How to Get Your License Back After a DUI in Illinois

Individuals convicted of DUI often have two questions for our license reinstatement attorneys:

  1. When am I eligible to obtain driving privileges and
  2. How can I obtain driving privileges?

This question has become more and more complicated due to changes that have occurred in Illinois law over the last several years.

When Am I Eligible to Obtain Driving Privileges?

Generally, in order to determine an accurate eligibility date, the driver must take two factors into account: the length of the statutory summary suspension (“SSS”) and the length of the DUI revocation. The length of the SSS can be anywhere from 6-months to 3-years depending on whether the person is a first offender or second (or subsequent) offender and whether they refused chemical testing or submitted to (and failed) testing. For purposes of the SSS, a first offender is a person who has not had a prior DUI disposition within 5-years of the current arrest:

Length of SSS

  • First Offenders
    • Refused Testing: 12-month suspension
    • Failed Testing: 6-month suspension
  • Second or Subsequent Offenders:
    • Refused Testing: 36-month suspension
    • Failed Testing: 12-month suspension

Suspensions begin the 46th day from the date the notice of suspension is served by the police officer on the driver. This typically happens at the time of arrest, but may occur later (i.e. when a blood draw or urine test is performed). In certain situations, the suspension may be extended due to a conviction for driving while suspended or due to a violation of the Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (“BAIID”) while on a Monitored Device Driving Permit (“MDDP”) during the suspension period.

Length of License Revocation

Before a driver can determine his or her eligibility date, the length of revocation must also be taken into account. In Illinois, a conviction for DUI results in a driver’s license revocation. Court supervision for DUI is not a conviction and, therefore, does not result in a driver’s license revocation. The minimum length of revocation depends on the number of DUI convictions the person has had:

  • First Conviction: 1-year
  • Second Conviction (arrest dates occurring within 20-years of each other): 5-years
  • Third Conviction (regardless of arrest dates): 10-years
  • Fourth or Subsequent Conviction (if last arrest occurred on or after 1/1/99): Lifetime

The driver must separately determine the termination date of both the SSS and the revocation. The later of the dates is the driver’s projected eligibility date.

Drivers should remember that regardless of the calculated date, the SSS does not terminate until the required reinstatement fee is paid. Further, the revocation does not terminate, regardless of the eligibility date, until the person has received a favorable decision for reinstatement after an administrative hearing before the Office of the Secretary of State.

If the driver has 2 or 3 DUI convictions and is an Illinois resident, reinstatement will not be granted until he or she has successfully driven on a restricted driving permit (RDP) with a BAIID for a period of 5-years.

Finally, if the driver has 4 or more DUI convictions and is an Illinois resident, he or she is never eligible for full reinstatement. This is known as a lifetime revocation. The driver would be eligible to apply for a RDP 5 years from the date of his or her last revocation, or release from incarceration, whichever is later.

After your eligibility is determined these are the steps you can take to get your license back. 

How do I get my driver’s license back after a DUI conviction?

  1. See an informal hearing officer at your local Secretary of State office or a driver’s license reinstatement attorney for a consultation.
  2. Obtain a ‘court purposes driving abstract’ from the Office of the Secretary of State or have your attorney obtain one on your behalf.
  3. If you have completed alcohol/drug treatment and/or risk education obtain your documents from the service provider.
  4. Go to a licensed alcohol/drug evaluation agency and complete a new original evaluation with that agency or an updated evaluation with your previous evaluator (original and updated evaluations are only valid for a period of 6-months).
  5. Once the evaluation has been completed and you have been advised of your classification level, you will need to complete the required treatment and/or risk education or obtain a waiver of treatment requirements. Make the evaluator aware if you have already completed treatment and/or risk education
  6. Take all of your documents to your attorney or the informal hearing officer at your local Secretary of State’s office to be reviewed and determine whether there are any outstanding issues.
  7. If you are eligible for an informal hearing take all of your documents to the local informal hearing officer and complete the hearing process. If you have an attorney representing you, they will schedule the hearing and appear with you at the hearing. The informal hearing officer will make a recommendation and a final decision from the Secretary of State’s office will be forwarded to you.
  8. If you are required to have a formal hearing (as in the case of most multiple DUI offenders) you must forward an application for a hearing date together with payment in the amount of $50.00 to one of the four (4) Secretary of State’s offices where these types of hearings are conducted. If you have an attorney, they will handle this process for you. You will be sent a hearing notice with the date, time and location of the hearing. Bring all of your documents to the hearing.
  9. After the formal hearing, you will receive a written decision. If you are denied relief, you can appeal the decision to the Circuit Court within 35 days OR you may request a new hearing date to be held no earlier than 90 days from your last hearing. If you are granted relief, you will be sent instructions as to the requirements to be completed before a permit or license can be issued including, but not limited to, payment of fees, completion and submission of a medical report, completion of a road, written and vision test, breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) requirement and employment verification. Note: some or all of these requirements may apply depending on your driving record.
  10. If granted relief, you must drive on the permit for 75% of the time it is issued for or until you have reached your eligibility date for full reinstatement – whichever is later. The only exception to this requirement is if you are required to have a BAIID device installed for 5-years based on more than one DUI conviction or if you are required to have a BAIID device installed for life based on 4 or more DUI convictions. If you are required to have a BAIID device for 5 years, you will be required to drive on a permit for the full 5-years before being eligible to apply for a regular driver’s license. If you are required to have a BAIID device for life, you will be required to drive on a permit for life.

Contact Our Illinois Driver’s License Attorneys

We recognize that this is a complicated area of the law. The license reinstatement attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. have a substantial concentration in the area of driver’s license law and have successfully represented thousands of drivers before the Illinois Secretary of State.

Feel free to give us a call or submit your information via our contact form to request a consultation. Let us put our experience and knowledge to work for you.