Zero Tolerance Law
In Illinois, if a driver under the age of 21 is found to have consumed any amount of alcohol he or she may be cited for violation of the Illinois Zero Tolerance Law. The attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. frequently represent clients facing a license suspension under the Illinois Zero Tolerance law.
Violation of the Zero Tolerance Law does not constitute a criminal violation unless the person is also charged with, for example, possession of alcohol by a minor or illegal transportation of alcohol. Instead, the Zero Tolerance Law only provides for a license suspension, similar to a DUI statutory summary suspension, but with important differences.
The law provides that if a person under the age of 21 has been cited for any violation of the vehicle code, state or local, and the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person has consumed any amount of alcohol, the officer may request that the driver submit to a blood, breath or urine test. If the person submits to a test which results in a blood alcohol concentration in excess of .00 or if the person refuses testing, a license suspension will result.
Under the law, if the person has not been previously suspended under the Zero Tolerance Law:
- The suspension will be for a period of 3-months if the person submitted to and failed testing;
- The suspension will be for a period of 6-months if the person refuses testing.
If the person has a previous suspension under the Zero Tolerance Law:
- The suspension will be for a period of 1-year if the person submitted to and failed testing;
- The suspension will be for a period of 2-years if the person refuses testing.
Typically, notice of suspension will be given to the driver by the police officer at the time of testing. However, if testing is done by blood or urine, notice will be sent to the driver by mail after testing results are received by the officer from the State laboratory.
The officer will also file a notice of the suspension with the Secretary of State, who will then send confirmation of the suspension to the driver. The suspension will then take effect 46 days from the date of notice as indicated in the confirmation sent to the driver by the Secretary of State.
Under Illinois law, the driver may file a petition to rescind the driver’s license suspension with the Office of the Secretary of State (Note this is unlike summary suspensions involving a DUI charge, which are heard in the circuit court). The issues are limited to:
- Whether the police officer had probable cause to believe that the person had been driving on the public highway and whether the person had committed any traffic violation;
- Whether the person was issued a citation for the traffic violation;
- Whether the police officer had probable cause to believe that the driver had consumed any amount of alcohol;
- Whether the driver had been warned by the police officer of the license consequences of taking and failing testing or refusing testing;
- Whether the driver submitted to and failed testing;
- Whether the driver had consumed alcohol as part of a religious service or ceremony or whether the consumption was part of a prescribed dosage of medicine.
Note that the law provides that if the consumption of alcohol was part of a religious service or ceremony or the result of prescribed medication, the Secretary of State will rescind the suspension.
The burden of proof on all issues in a zero tolerance proceeding rests with the driver, not with the Secretary of State.
If the suspension is upheld, the driver may seek a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP). In order to seek an RDP during the period of the suspension, the driver must complete an Alcohol/Drug Education Awareness Program and questionnaire prepared by the Secretary of State.
If the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was less than .08, the driver must then complete an Investigative Alcohol/Drug Evaluation and complete any requirements required by the evaluator. If the BAC was .08 or more, the driver must complete a regular Alcohol/Drug Evaluation Uniform Report and complete any requirements recommended by the evaluator.
Only after completing all of these requirements may the person proceed with an administrative hearing before the Secretary of State to request an RDP, provided that he or she can demonstrate a sufficient hardship due to the loss of driving privileges. It is highly advisable that the driver seek the representation of an attorney concentrating in the area of Secretary of State administrative hearings for assistance.
The attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. represent clients charged with alcohol-related offenses including those clients facing a license suspension under the Illinois Zero Tolerance law. Feel free to contact our office to discuss your case.