The state legislature has amended the DUI statutes in 2011 and established additional civil penalties for people accused of driving under the influence. The law in Illinois up to 2010 provided that if a person was involved in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in personal injury or death, the police were allowed to draw blood for evidence of intoxication.
Under these circumstances, the chemical test was not voluntary. If the person refused, then the police were authorized to take the blood sample by force.
Under the old law, procedure required the police to first ask the driver to submit to testing by breathalyzer, urine sample, or blood test. If the driver refused, he would receive a statutory summary suspension and the police would be authorized to take blood by force.
But starting July 1, 2011, the law will change. The recent amendment was passed under Public Act 96-1344. The original bill was sponsored by Senate Democrat M. Maggie Crotty from the 19th District (Oak Forest). It was Senate Bill 3732.
The new law says that any person who is involved in a motor vehicle accident in which personal injury or death occurred must consent to chemical testing. Refusing a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer, urine test, or blood draw, will result in a revoked driver’s license, not a summary suspension. After the refusal, the police are still authorized to draw blood by force.
The difference between this new law and the previous statute is that a revocation is a more serious penalty than a statutory summary suspension.
By law, both a suspension and a revocation have a termination date. Generally, a suspension imposed by the Secretary of State will last for a period of one year. See 625 ILCS 5/6-208(a). A revocation that results from a conviction for the offense of DUI also generally lasts for one year. See 625 ILCS 5/6-208(b)(1).
Nonetheless, after a statutory summary suspension, the driver is entitled to reinstatement automatically upon payment of the reinstatement fee. See 625 ILCS 6-208.1(c). The driver does not have to meet any other qualifications.
But in cases of a revoked driver’s license, a person is not entitled to reinstatement at the conclusion of the revocation. Rather, when this occurs, he is only eligible for reinstatement.
The law on reinstatement after revocation requires that the driver must complete a formal hearing with the Secretary of State Department of Administrative Hearings:
In no event shall the Secretary issue such license unless and until such person has had a hearing pursuant to this Code and the appropriate administrative rules and the Secretary is satisfied, after a review or investigation of such person, that to grant the privilege of driving a motor vehicle on the highways will not endanger the public safety or welfare.
See 625 ILCS 5/6-208(b).
And so, the new law revokes a person’s driver’s license for refusing a chemical test. That person basically suffers the same penalty as a conviction for DUI.
The problem with this new law is that it penalizes people for a legal nullity. If a person was in an accident resulting in injury or a fatality, the police have the right to draw blood by force. The person legally has no right to refuse, because the police can take blood regardless. The notion that the driver can refuse is a legal fiction.
But the new law imposes the most serious penalty, a revoked driver’s license, on a person for refusing when he has no right to refuse anyway.
Pursuant to the new statute, a person whose license is revoked for refusing testing is entitled to a hearing much like a summary suspension hearing. The same rules concerning a right to hearing within 30 days of written request, and the right to present a case still apply.