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Refuse Breath Test? Cops May Take Your Blood in Chicago Area

Depending on where you're pulled over, there are a varying amount of consequences for refusing a field breathalyzer test. In just about every state, your driver's license may be immediately revoked upon refusal. In some jurisdictions, prosecutors might be able to point to that refusal as an implicit admission of guilt, while in others, prosecutors may not comment on the refusal at all.

And in some Chicago-area counties, police may start fast-tracking warrants for a blood draw.

Speedy Blood Trial

Warrants for drawing a DUI suspect's blood are generally available, if officers can demonstrate probable cause and have the warrant signed by a judge. Law enforcement in McHenry County is trying to expedite that process, allowing police to generate an "e-warrant" transmitted electronically to a judge for review directly from a traffic stop following refusal of a breath test.

The hope is that the e-warrant system will allow officers to communicate with a judge through teleconference, and a judge can provide an electronic signature if the probable cause is proved. This means police can obtain blood samples before the traces of drugs or alcohol have dissipated. Law enforcement officials claim these blood draw warrants will only be used in the most serious circumstances: with repeat DUI offenders or in the case of an accident or fatality.

Refusal Recourse

So, what happens if you refuse the blood test as well? It's generally accepted that neither police nor healthcare professionals can forcibly draw blood from a person without their consent. (A Utah nurse was given $500,000 and an officer fired after she was arrested for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious man who could not consent.)

But refusing to comply with a valid warrant for a blood test can have more serious consequences than declining to give a breath sample. Some states have made it an independent crime to refuse a blood test. In Lake County, Illinois, next door to McHenry County, the state's attorney said those who refuse to cooperate with blood test warrant would be charged with obstruction of justice.

If you want to know what your rights are when refusing a breath or blood test, contact an experienced DUI attorney in your area.

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