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Formal Hearings: Illinois Driver's License Law

The driver’s license reinstatement attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. represent suspended and revoked drivers at formal hearings before the Illinois Secretary of State. Our attorneys are at the forefront of Illinois driver's license law and have successfully obtained driving privileges for thousands of clients.

What is a Formal Hearing?

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office conducts formal hearings for revoked and suspended drivers seeking to reinstate their drivers' license or driving privileges. Revocations and suspensions are often based on DUI as well as a variety of non-alcohol/drug related offenses.

A formal hearing is a contested proceeding before a hearing officer. During a formal hearing, the Secretary of State is represented by an attorney known as a hearing representative. Of course, the driver has the right to be represented by an attorney as well. The driver is subject to both direct examination and cross-examination. Failure to have experienced legal representation to assist in the proper preparation and presentation of your case often will result in a denial of relief.

What Evidence Will be Presented by the Secretary of State?

At the start of the hearing, the driver is sworn in and the hearing representative will introduce the driver's file into evidence. This consists of the Illinois driving abstract containing the entire driving history of the driver, all out-of-state arrests for DUI, arrest reports, accident reports and prior hearing records (if the driver has appeared at previous hearings).

What Questions are Asked at a Formal Hearing?

The first thing to remember is that for a driver who is revoked for DUI, the main purpose of the hearing is to determine whether he or she is a risk to the public safety. Typically, a review of the offense(s) resulting in the revocation or suspension will take place at the hearing. For example, the driver will be asked about the time period over which the alcohol or drug use occurred, the amount consumed, the reason the driver was stopped, and the results of any chemical tests (blood, breath or urine). Other relevant topics include: the person’s full driving record, criminal record, and lifestyle changes. In some cases, any hardship resulting from their loss of driving privileges must also be addressed. If relevant, the hearing will also focus on the facts and circumstances of the person’s alcohol/drug use history prior to since the last DUI arrest, including a review of any symptoms of alcohol/drug abuse, mental health issues, and any treatment history.

Providing proper documentation is a vital part of many formal hearings. This may include an alcohol/drug evaluation, treatment documentation, risk education verification, and letters from family, friends and acquaintances documenting current alcohol/drug use, abstinence or support group participation. Certain documentation is required to be in its original format.

At the close of the hearing, the driver will be given an opportunity to make a final statement.

Do I Receive a Decision Immediately After my Formal Hearing?

After the formal hearing has been concluded and all necessary documentation has been received in evidence, the formal hearing officer will take the matter under advisement and prepare a proposed order containing a written recommendation as to whether driving relief should be granted or denied. It is then forwarded to a review officer for review or rejection. A final order will be entered on behalf of the Secretary of State and the decision is sent to the driver and his/her attorney. If relief is granted, it will either be in the form of a restricted driving permit or full reinstatement.

While the Secretary of State technically has up to 90 days to render a decision after the hearing, the decision usually takes 8-12 weeks to arrive. If denied driving relief, the driver may appeal the decision to the circuit court within 35 days. However, the driver is eligible for a new hearing 90 days after the prior hearing. A future hearing must address any issues raised at the prior hearing. As a result, a denial may create substantial complications at any future hearing.

Where are Formal Hearings Conducted?

Formal hearings are heard at four facilities throughout Illinois: Chicago, Joliet, Springfield and Mount Vernon. Among these facilities is the Secretary of State’s formal hearing facilities located 54 N. Ottawa Street in Joliet and 17 N. State Street in Chicago. The hearing request is made in writing and must be accompanied by a $50.00 hearing request fee. A notice is then sent by the Secretary of State to the driver notifying him or her of the place and time of the hearing.

We are Here to Help

Secretary of State driver's license hearings can be intimidating and are governed by a complex set of laws and administrative rules. If you are revoked or suspended and wish to obtain driving privileges, contact the driver’s license reinstatement attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. to discuss your case. We can review your record and determine the best course of action. Our attorneys have helped thousands of individuals throughout Illinois and across the country reinstate their driving privileges.

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