Should I Take A Breathalyzer Test In Illinois?

October 15, 2022
Anna Jankowska, LCPC

By Anna Jankowska, MA, CEAP, SAP, LCPC

Anna Jankowska, MA, CEAP, SAP, LCPC is a mental health counselor, addiction, and substance abuse counselor with over 17 years of experience and has specialized training and skill in working with individuals, groups and communities to improve mental health outcomes.
NPI number: 1598843526

If you are operating a vehicle after drinking alcohol, it is important to know your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the possible consequences of driving under the influence. If you are pulled over or arrested for suspicion of drunk driving, law enforcement may ask you to take a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer test measures your blood alcohol concentration through the analysis of exhaled air. If your BAC is above the legal limit in Illinois, you may be required to complete an ignition interlock device program, an alcohol education program or face more serious consequences such as jail time, fines, probation and a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. Read on to learn more about whether you should take a breathalyzer test in Illinois.

Why Should I Take A Breathalyzer Test?

There are a few reasons why you might be legally required to take a breathalyzer test when driving under the influence. First, if you are operating a vehicle and a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that you are intoxicated and operating the vehicle, you are required by law to submit to a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, your driving privileges will be revoked for one year under Illinois’ implied consent law. If you are involved in an accident while driving under the influence, you are required to take a breathalyzer test. You may also be tested if you are stopped for another traffic violation that leads the officer to believe that you have been drinking.

How Is A Breathalyzer Test Done?

What Is the Procedure for a Breathalyzer Test?

A breathalyzer test is a type of chemical test that measures the amount of alcohol in your blood by analyzing the amount of a breath sample containing excess alcohol. Most breathalyzer tests use an infrared absorption process to determine the amount of alcohol in your exhaled breath. The breathalyzer test is typically done by blowing into a machine, and the device will immediately give you a reading.

Are There Consequences To Failing A Breathalyzer Test?

The possible consequences of failing a breathalyzer test will vary based on your BAC and the jurisdiction where you are stopped and tested. If you fail a breathalyzer test and have a BAC above 0.08 in Illinois, you will receive an Illinois DUI. If you have a BAC above 0.08, you may face additional penalties that include:

Should I Take A PBT Instead Of A Breathalyzer Test?

No. PBTs are field sobriety tests and should not be confused with breathalyzer tests. PBTs are designed to test your balance, coordination, and other physical skills. Breathalyzer tests are designed to determine the amount of alcohol in your blood. Breathalyzer tests are more accurate than PBTs because they are done in a controlled, indoor environment and are not influenced by temperature, wind, or other outdoor factors. PBTs are not regulated in the same way as breathalyzers because they are not used as evidence in court.

Should I Take An Alcohol Assessment Instead Of A Breathalyzer Test?

An alcohol assessment is an alternative to a blood alcohol test that can be used at the scene of an accident, or when a law enforcement officer has probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving. If you have been driving and have been involved in an accident or have been stopped for a traffic violation, you may be asked to complete an alcohol assessment. An alcohol assessment is not the same thing as a BAC test, so it is important to know that completing an alcohol assessment is not the same as taking a breathalyzer test. An alcohol assessment is a questionnaire that asks you questions about your drinking history and your current level of intoxication.

Should I Fight To Avoid Taking A Breathalyzer Or PBT?

If you have been found to be intoxicated and law enforcement requests that you take a breathalyzer test or PBT, you are obligated to comply. If you refuse to take the breathalyzer or PBT, your driving privileges will be revoked for one year under Illinois’ implied consent law. If you have been drinking, it is best to comply with the request to take a breathalyzer or PBT. This will help you avoid harsher penalties such as longer driver’s license suspensions.

Deciding on Taking the Breathalyzer Tester

Breathalyzer tests are required in Illinois if you are driving under the influence and are stopped by law enforcement or involved in an accident. If you have been drinking, it is important to know that refusing a breathalyzer test or PBT will lead to a one-year revocation of your driving privileges and increase in car insurance rates. If you have been drinking, it is best to comply with the request to take a breathalyzer or PBT. This will help you avoid harsher penalties such as longer driver’s license suspensions.

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