Being involved in a car accident is a very stressful experience. But being involved in a car accident when you have been drinking can also turn into a criminal case. Although your first instinct may be to panic or even run away, there are steps that you should take in order to protect yourself in the event you will be arrested and charged with DUI.
In Illinois, if you have been involved in an accident where someone has been injured and/or there has been property damage, you are required by law to exchange information with the other driver and report the accident to the police. Once the officer arrives on the scene and they suspect you have been drinking, it is crucial not to make any oral or written statements to the officer. You will want to consult with a defense attorney before making any statements.
If the officer suspects you are under the influence, they have the legal right to request you take a breathalyzer test and submit to a field sobriety test (walk and turn, horizontal gaze, standing on one leg). In Illinois, if you refuse to submit to the breathalyzer, you will likely face an automatic suspension of your driver’s license under the state’s implied consent laws. There could be other administrative penalties, as well as criminal penalties for refusing to submit to the test. You are not required by law to submit to field sobriety tests and, given how subjective these tests are, it is recommended you politely refuse the officer’s request.
You should also avoid making any statements to victims or witnesses to the crash. These can also be used against you. For example, if you say something like, “I only had a couple of beers and thought I was fine to drive,” because you are upset about the accident, that statement can be used against you in both the criminal case if you are charged with DUI and also used against you in any car accident injury claim or lawsuit filed by victims.
Obtain the names and contact information of all potential witnesses to the crash. This can be especially helpful if the crash is not your fault. If you have a smartphone with a camera, take photos of the accident scene. Make sure to capture all the damage done to any vehicles, landmarks, traffic signs and/or signals, weather conditions, road conditions, and any other items you think could be helpful. Your attorney can use these photos as evidence in your defense. Write down all the details of the crash, including the date and time and anything that the other driver, victims, or witnesses said or did.
If you have been arrested for DUI, you need a dedicated Naperville, IL DUI attorney defending you against these charges. Call J. Aldrich Law, P.C. at 630-953-3000 to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can help.