One of the many duties of a police officer is to respond to and to investigate auto accidents. It is unusual for the police officer to have witnessed the auto accident. Many auto accidents, especially at night involve one of the drivers being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including cannabis. The police officers will try to determine which people were the drivers involved in the accident, how the accident occurred, who was at fault for the accident, and whether any driver was under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or illegal drugs.
The police officer will likely speak with all people who may have witnessed the accident. The police officer may ask for identification and proof of insurance. The police officer may ask who was driving and how the accident occurred. The police officer will look for any indications that a driver may be under the influence or alcohol, cannabis, or illegal drugs.
If you are involved in an accident and have been drinking, using cannabis, or illegal drugs it is best to not answer questions. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a driving under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or illegal drugs (DUI) prosecution in Illinois.
The United States and Illinois constitutions afford you certain rights. Use them to your benefit. You are within your rights to decline to answer questions. You are also free to politely refuse to perform any tests of your dexterity including the three National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standard field sobriety tests. You may be arrested for DUI if you refuse to answer questions and perform standardized field sobriety tests. You will not give the police additional evidence of intoxication if you refuse questioning and testing.
My client was allegedly involved in an accident on Interstate 94, the Dan Ryan expressway in Chicago, Illinois. The interstate highways around Chicago are patrolled by Illinois State Police troopers. My client and drivers and passengers in other vehicles involved in the accident were relocated to a safe location off the expressway. My client was standing at the relocation scene when first approached by the Illinois State Trooper who eventually effectuated a DUI arrest.
My client made certain statements that were construed as admissions to driving. My client was quoted as saying, “I hit him,” when asked about the cause of the accident. This implied my client was the driver. Had my client responded, “I don’t know,” or not provided any response, the trooper could not have identified my client as the driver. A witness to the accident would have had to testify to prove driving.
My client also attempted to perform standardized field sobriety tests. The results of the standardized field sobriety tests arguably showed signs of consumption and impairment from alcohol. No additional signs of consumption and impairment would have been gleaned had my client refused standardized field sobriety tests.
My client’s case proceeded to trial. The only evidence that my client was driving was presented by the State’s sole witness, the Illinois State Trooper who arrested my client. No one who witnessed the accident was present to testify for the State. My client’s statement to the investigating Illinois State Trooper, “I hit him,” was sufficient to show my client was the driver involved in this accident. The results of the standardized field sobriety tests were enough to show impairment. My client was found guilty of DUI.
Don’t make the mistake my client made. Of course, do not drink, use cannabis, or illegal drugs and then drive. If you are being investigated after an accident or a traffic stop, do not provide evidence that can be used against you in court. If you are arrested for DUI in Cook and surrounding counties, call Steven Herzberg to represent you.