What is the Illinois Summary Suspension Law?

The DUI defense attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C., often find that many of our clients are both concerned and confused when confronted with the complex landscape of Illinois DUI law, which includes the statutory summary suspension law. As attorneys who have represented thousands of individuals charged with DUI and who are involved in the writing of DUI laws, we strive to make this complex area of the law more understandable.

In the vast majority of cases, a DUI can be broken down into two parts: the Statutory Summary Suspension of one’s driving privileges, which is a civil proceeding, and the criminal charge for Driving Under the Influence. In this post we address the first part of DUI: the Illinois Summary Suspension law.

The summary suspension law differs for those who are considered a “first-offender” and those who are not considered to be a “first offender.” Someone is considered to be a “first-offender” when he or she has not had a disposition for DUI, or a statutory summary suspension, in the five years preceding his or her current arrest. In other words, so long as one has not had a statutory summary suspension, pled guilty or been found guilty of a DUI in the five years preceding their current arrest, he or she is considered a “first-offender” for purposes of the statutory summary suspension—regardless of the number of DUIs and/or statutory summary suspensions they have had in their lifetime. If a “first-offender” submits to, and fails, chemical testing—i.e. testing of breath, blood, or urine—they face a 6-month driver’s license suspension. If a “first-offender” refuses testing, he or she faces a 12-month license suspension.

A person who has had a prior DUI disposition or a prior statutory summary suspension, within the 5-year period preceding the current arrest, is not considered a “first-offender” for purposes of the statutory summary suspension. If someone who is not a “first-offender” fails testing, he or she faces a 12-month suspension. If someone who is not a “first-offender” refuses to submit to the chemical testing, he or she faces a 3-year suspension.

Generally, the summary suspension becomes effective on the 46th day following service of a document entitled “notice of statutory summary suspension” (also known as the “law enforcement sworn report”), indicating either, the test result, or a refusal to submit to testing. This document is typically given to someone arrested for DUI at the police station after the arrest.

A DUI defense attorney may challenge the suspension in the court by filing a ‘petition to rescind’ the suspension. The limited grounds available to challenge the suspension include: showing that the driver was not properly placed under arrest for driving under the influence; a lack of reasonable grounds—also known as probable cause—for the arrest; the driver was not warned by the police officer of the potential consequences to one’s driving privileges prior to the police officer offering a chemical test; or that the driver did not fail the test or refuse the test. The burden of proof in the civil summary suspension hearing rests with the driver (unlike the criminal case where the burden rests with the State or local prosecutor) to demonstrate one of these grounds by a preponderance of the evidence.

Hearings to challenge a statutory summary suspensions and/or statutory summary revocations in DUI cases involving death or serious personal injury, or zero tolerance suspensions for those persons under 21 years old, are heard before the Secretary of State rather than in the court.

Persons who are considered to be a “first-offender” for purposes of the statutory summary suspension, and whose suspensions do not involve death, serious personal injury or zero tolerance may, with certain exceptions, seek a monitored device driving permit (‘MDDP’) by submitting an application to the Secretary of State. These permits allow the person to drive 24/7 as long as they have a BAIID device installed in their vehicle. Individuals who have a prior DUI disposition within the 5-year period or whose suspensions involve death, serious personal injury or zero tolerance can only obtain driving privileges through an administrative hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State.

Our next blog post will further explain the second part of an Illinois DUI – the criminal charge. If you are facing DUI charges in the Chicagoland area, contact our DUI defense attorneys today.