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Constitutionality of No-Refusal Weekend Challenged in Court

A Libertyville woman is challenging the constitutionality of the DUI enforcement tactic known as "no-refusal weekend." The police practice tramples on the civil rights of defendants, critics say.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Libertyville resident Cheryl Yachnin was held for 13 hours after being charged with DUI and then refusing to take a breathalyzer test or give a blood sample to police officers.

Refusing to Take a Refusal

A "no-refusal weekend" is when police officers refuse to accept "no" as an answer from DUI suspects. Officers on these weekends can request search warrants from prosecutors and judges to compel DUI suspects to give a blood sample if they refuse a breath test. If the drivers refuse to comply with the request for blood, as Yachnin did, the driver is charged with contempt of court.

According to Yachnin's lawsuit, in August of 2008, she was pulled over and arrested for drunken driving. After a field sobriety test was administered, a Lake County prosecutor was contacted. The prosecutor got a county judge to issue a search warrant demanding Yachnin submit to a breath test or blood test. She refused both.

Yachnin was later found not guilty of DUI; contempt of court charges against her were dismissed.

Does Illinois Law Allow "No Refusal" Weekends?

Yachnin's lawyer says there is no state law allowing prosecutors or police officers to declare no-refusal weekends. The attorney argues that state's attorneys and police departments have decided on their own to create law enforced only on special weekends.

The no-refusal weekends have taken place irregularly in Lake County as well as in Kane County since 2008. The weekends are typically at holidays when impaired driving violations are often higher than normal.

Fighting Unconstitutional Tactics

With the approach of the holidays, drivers everywhere are encouraged to avoid drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel. DuPage, Kane and Lake County drivers are advised to take extra precautions to avoid these new law enforcement tactics.

If you face a charge of drunk driving related to a no-refusal weekend, contact an Illinois DUI attorney familiar with the law, proper police procedures and effective DUI defense.