Illinois law enforcement agencies aggressively enforce laws that prohibit driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). If a police officer suspects that a driver is drunk, he or she has a variety of ways to gather evidence that supports that assertion. These techniques range from simple observation regarding an individual’s appearance and behavior to a chemical analysis of a person’s blood, breath, or urine. Under the Illinois implied consent law1, every licensed driver has impliedly consented to this type of testing, which is why the Department of Revenue has the ability to suspend your license in the event that you refuse.
In some cases, law enforcement will attempt to compel a person suspected of DUI to submit to such a test against their will, which would be considered a “search” of a person. The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits state actors (such as the police) from engaging in unreasonable searches and seizures, and warrantless searches are presumed to be unreasonable. There are myriad exceptions to this rule, however, including one known as the “exigent circumstance” exception, which allows warrantless search and seizures if there is an imminent risk of the loss or destruction of evidence.
Exigent circumstances and the human metabolism
Recently, the state of Missouri tried to argue that the natural dissipation of alcohol in a person’s blood stream constituted the loss of evidence to the extent that it justified a law enforcement officer to direct a medical professional to conduct a blood draw against a suspect’s will. After winding its way through the judicial system, the Supreme Court of the United States disagreed. In its opinion in Missouri v. McNeely2, the Court held that while there are some cases in which a warrantless blood draw may be justified, the natural dissipation of alcohol from the bloodstream is not itself an exigent circumstance.
4th Amendment violations may exclude evidence
In cases where law enforcement officers violate the law in gathering evidence, the evidence may be excluded from any legal proceeding against you. The exclusion of evidence is not automatic, however, and the assistance of an attorney can be invaluable in determining whether a 4th Amendment violation occurred and in alerting the court or prosecutor to that fact.
To schedule a free consultation with Chicago DUI attorney Nenye Uche, call our office today at (888) 251-4428.