License Reinstatement FAQs
- What is the difference between a suspension and revocation?
- How difficult is it to get my license back after a DUI conviction?
- How do I prove that I am not a risk to the public safety?
- What are the different risk classifications?
- Why could the Secretary of State deny me driving relief?
- How long does it take to get a hearing and a decision on my application?
- Will I get my full license back or do I have to drive on a hardship license first?
- Will I have to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (‘BAIID’) installed on my vehicle?
- Do I need to have a lawyer represent me?
- If I have already had a hearing and have been denied, can a lawyer still help me?
- Where will my hearing be held?
What is the difference between a suspension and revocation?
A suspension is the temporary loss of driving privileges for a specified period of time. At the end of the period of suspension a person is automatically reinstated upon payment of the required reinstatement fee. A revocation is the indefinite loss of driving privileges. There is no ‘automatic’ reinstatement after revocation and a person cannot drive again until first appearing at a hearing before the Secretary of State and being granted driving privileges.
Certain offenses may result in a suspension while more serious offenses may result in a revocation. Examples of offenses which will result in a suspension:
- 3 or more minor moving violations within a 12 month period for drivers 21 years of age or older;
- 2 or more minor moving violations within a 24 month period for drivers under the age of 21;
- Possession of a driver’s license or ID card belonging to another;
- Fleeing and eluding a police officer;
- Leaving the scene of an accident where property damage exceeds $1,000.00;
- 2 convictions for illegal transportation of open liquor within a period of 1 year;
- Violation of driver’s license classification (e.g., operating a motor cycle without proper license classification);
- Possession of a controlled substance, cannabis or methamphetamine while operating or in physical control of a motor vehicle.
Examples of offenses which will result in revocation:
- Conviction of DUI;
- Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death or personal injury;
- Drag racing;
- Aggravated fleeing an eluding a police officer involving speeding 21 miles per hour or over the limit, property damage of $300.00 or more; disobedience of 2 or more traffic control devices;
- 2 convictions for illegal transportation of open liquor where the person is under age 21;
- Any felony involving the use of a motor vehicle.
Note: These are only examples and not complete lists of offenses which may cause a suspension or revocation.
The rules of the Secretary of State’s office are complicated and high rates of applications are denied. It is highly recommended that anyone seeking to obtain driving privileges after a revocation, particularly for DUI seek professional legal help. The Secretary of State will not grant any driving privileges unless and until it is satisfied that you are not a risk to the public safety. The burden of proving this is on you by means of a hearing. In other words, the State does not have to prove that you are a risk; rather you have to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the State that you are not a risk. This is an extremely difficult burden for most people to meet, particularly those who have been arrested for multiple DUIs.
During a driver's license hearing, the Secretary of State’s office considers several factors in the case of a DUI offender in determining he or she is a risk. For example, the State considers the alcohol/drug evaluation and treatment documentation completed by a State-licensed program as well as your testimony before a Secretary of State hearing officer.
The evaluation and your testimony will address issues such as the facts and circumstances of your DUI arrest(s) including why you were stopped, how much you drank, your perception as to whether you were intoxicated, the results of any alcohol/drug breath, blood or urine test(s), your alcohol/drug use history, the reasons why you would typically drink or use drugs in the past and whether your treatment adequately addressed any underlying reasons for alcohol and/or drug abuse.
Individuals must be placed within one of the five risk classifications that the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA) has created before applying for license reinstatement through the Illinois Secretary of State. The different classifications generally defined are as follows:
The only individuals who can be classified as Minimal Risk are those who have no prior conviction or court-ordered supervision for DUI, no prior statutory summary suspension, and no prior reckless driving conviction reduced from DUI. Also, the individual must have had a BAC of less than .15 as a result of the arrest for DUI. Also, the individual must have no other symptoms of substance abuse or dependence. Individuals classified as Minimal Risk are usually eligible for an informal hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State (with certain exceptions). A minimum of ten  hours of DASA defined DUI Risk Education are required. These ten hours must be divided between at least four sessions with each session consisted of two and one-half hours each.
Individuals classified as Moderate Risk must have no prior conviction or court-ordered supervision for DUI, no prior statutory summary suspension, and no prior reckless driving conviction reduced from DUI. The BAC of this individual must be between .15 and .19, inclusive, or a refusal of chemical testing as a result of the arrest for DUI. Also, the individual must have no other symptoms of substance abuse. A minimum of ten hours of DASA defined DUI Risk Education is required. These ten hours must be divided between at least four sessions with each session consisting of two and one-half hours each. In addition, the individual must complete twelve  hours of early intervention.
Individuals classified as Significant Risk must have no more than one prior conviction or court-ordered supervision for DUI, one prior statutory summary suspension, or one prior reckless driving conviction reduced from DUI. The individual must also have had a BAC of .20 or higher as a result of the most current DUI arrest and/or other symptoms of substance abuse. Significant Risk individuals must have twenty  hours of alcohol and/or drug treatment in addition to any recommended continuing care services. They must also complete risk education.
Individuals classified as High Risk must have symptoms of substance dependence regardless of their driving record and/or, within the ten-year period prior to the date of the most current arrest, any combination of two prior convictions or court-ordered supervisions for DUI, prior statutory summary suspensions, or prior reckless driving convictions reduced from DUI, resulting from separate incidents. High Risk individuals must successfully complete a minimum of seventy-five  hours of substance abuse treatment and upon completion of any and all necessary treatment and after discharge, active ongoing participation in all activities specified in the continuing care plan.
High Risk Nondependent
High Risk Nondependent individuals are those whose last three DUI dispositions occurred within a ten  year period but are not otherwise dependent on alcohol and/or drugs.
High Risk Dependent
High Risk Dependent individuals are those with symptoms indicating alcohol and/or drug dependence.
* Note that a person who has symptoms of alcohol and/or drug dependency will be placed at a Significant Risk or High Risk Dependent classification even if they would otherwise be eligible for a lower classification based on their arrest history or BAC level.
The Secretary of State has adopted technical and complex rules in order to apply for driving privileges. The failure to comply with any of these rules may result in a denial of your application. Many of these hearings are adversarial, in other words, contested. You are placed under oath and subject to cross-examination by an attorney representative of the Secretary of State’s office and further subject to questioning by a hearing officer. You may be denied if your testimony does not satisfy the hearing officer or is inconsistent with the information contained in your alcohol/drug evaluation, for example with respect to the facts and circumstances of your DUI arrest or your alcohol/drug use history.
You may also be denied even if your testimony is consistent with the alcohol/drug evaluation and other documentation you present to the hearing officer, but the hearing officer believes that the information is not consistent with your arrest history, results of any chemical tests (i.e., breath test, etc.) or other information.
This depends, in part, on what type of hearing you are required to have. The Secretary of State’s rules provide for 2 types of hearings: formal and informal. Generally, if you have more than one statutory summary suspension (for failing or refusing a breath, blood or urine test) or DUI conviction arising out separate DUI offenses you must have a formal hearing. You must also have a formal hearing if the offense involved a death or if you seek a modification or recission of your suspension or revocation.
The law provides that the Secretary of State must schedule a formal hearing to be held within 90 days of the request for hearing and the decision must be issued within 90 days of the hearing date. If you are eligible for an informal hearing, you do not need to request a hearing and can simply go to a local Secretary of State facility and have a hearing, without an appointment. A response will be received from the Secretary of State, generally within 4-6 weeks.
If you are successful at your hearing, and even if you are eligible to be considered for full reinstatement, under Secretary of State rules, you will first be granted a restricted driving permit (‘RDP’), commonly known as a ‘hardship license’. There are generally 3 types of hardship permits: work, medical and educational. The Secretary of State utilizes hardship relief as a type of probationary permit. Under the rules, you are required to drive on the permit for at least 75% of the time for which it is issued before you can be considered for full reinstatement. Since, in most cases, the permit is issued for 12 months, you must drive on it for 9 months before you can request reinstatement.
Note that if revoked and after driving successfully on a permit, reinstatement is still not automatic. You must still first have another hearing before the Secretary of State.
Generally, there are 2 groups of revoked drivers who are required to have a BAIID device installed on their vehicle while driving on a RDP. If you have received any combination of 2 or more suspensions or revocations within a 10 year period which arise separately out of multiple DUIs; or if you have at least 2 convictions for DUI any time in your life you must have a BAIID device installed on your vehicle. There are certain limited exemptions to the BAIID requirement which are generally related to persons who drive employer owned or leased vehicles.
Note that, with certain short-term exceptions for drivers with multiple DUI convictions, once you are reinstated, you are not required to have a BAIID device.
The Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device is used to prevent driver's from driving while intoxicated. This device requires that the driver blow into the device before the vehicle can be started. The BAIID also randomly asks for breath samples while the vehicle is in use.
You have the right to an attorney but are not required to have a lawyer represent you as you go through the hearing process. However, it is highly recommended that you have legal counsel who is experienced and concentrates in this area of the law.
Our office will not only represent you at the actual hearing but, even more importantly, we will guide you through this entire process from the first time we meet with you.
We will obtain and review your driving record, review your arrest history, your complete alcohol/drug use history, and (if applicable) obtain and review all of your prior hearing records. We will only agree to represent you if, in our professional opinion, we believe that we can obtain a successful result in your case. If we believe that you will not be successful, we will provide you with specific steps to take first.
If we agree to proceed, we will provide you with detailed written instructions as to the specific steps to follow in order to prepare for your hearing. Any questions you have will be answered promptly and accurately. We will review all of your documents prior to your hearing and make certain that they meet Secretary of State requirements. We will directly address any issues or potential problems with your evaluator or treatment provider and make sure they are resolved prior to your hearing.
We will meet with you again, prior to your hearing date to prepare you for your hearing and, of course, be with you at the hearing to guide you through your testimony.
Absolutely. As your attorneys, we will obtain all of your prior hearing records and determine what specific issues need to be addressed. We will then prepare written instructions to address these issues with you, the evaluator and the treatment provider. Then, as in all other cases, we will prepare you for and represent you at your hearing.
Where your hearing is held will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Typically, our office conducts Secretary of State hearings at the Chicago and Joliet facilities.
The Chicago (Elston) facility is located at:
5401 N. Elston Avenue
Chicago, IL 60630-1479
The Joliet facility is located at:
54 N. Ottawa Street
Joliet, IL 60436-1080