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License Reinstatement FAQs

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 even after the period of revocation ends. Instead, a person becomes 'eligible' for reinstatement and cannot drive until first appearing at a hearing before the Secretary of State and being granted driving privileges. The minimum period of revocation (before a person becomes eligible to be considered for reinstatement) can depend on such factors as the nature of the offense that caused the revocation and the person's driving record.

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:

  1. 3 or more minor moving violations within a 12 month period for drivers 21 years of age or older;
  2. 2 or more minor moving violations within a 24 month period for drivers under the age of 21;
  3. Possession of a driver’s license or ID card belonging to another;
  4. Fleeing and eluding a police officer;
  5. Leaving the scene of an accident where property damage exceeds $1,000.00;
  6. 2 convictions for illegal transportation of open liquor within a period of 1 year;
  7. Violation of driver’s license classification (e.g., operating a motor cycle without proper license classification);
  8. 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 a revocation:

  1. DUI conviction;
  2. Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death or personal injury;
  3. Drag racing/Street racing;
  4. Aggravated fleeing and eluding a police officer involving speeding 21 miles per hour or more over the limit, property damage of $300.00 or more; disobedience of 2 or more traffic control devices;
  5. Two (2) convictions for illegal transportation of open liquor where the person is under age 21;
  6. Any felony involving the use of a motor vehicle.

Note: This is only a partial list of offenses that may cause a suspension or revocation.

What type of hearing will I need to get driving privileges?

The Secretary of State conducts 2 types of hearings: formal and informal. Generally, formal hearings are required when:

  • The person has more than one suspension or revocation arising out of more than one DUI.
  • The basis for the revocation is an offense involving a death.
  • The person is seeking a modification or rescission of an order of revocation or suspension.
  • An out-of-state application for reinstatement.
  • The person has had a Monitored Device Driving Permit (MDDP) cancelled and now wishes to be considered for issuance of a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP).

What is the difference between a formal and informal hearing?

Formal and informal hearings differ in many ways. Formal hearings are only held at four Secretary of State locations across the state: Chicago, Joliet, Springfield and Mount Vernon. Informal hearings are held at many locations across the state, a majority of which are DMVs.

In order to schedule a formal hearing, a petitioner must submit a formal hearing request along with a $50.00 filing fee. The petitioner may choose the location of the hearing. The Secretary of State will then schedule a date and time for the hearing to take place. In contrast, informal hearings are held on a walk-in basis.

A formal hearing is similar to a trial. A hearing officer and prosecutor representing the Secretary of State are present in addition to the petitioner and the petitioner's attorney, if any. The hearing begins with the prosecutor and defense attorney each introducing their own exhibits and the petitioner being put under oath. The petitioner's attorney has an opportunity to present their case by asking questions relating to the petitioner's driving record, details of the arrests, alcohol/drug use history and all other relevant information. Both the prosecutor and hearing officer then have an opportunity to cross-examine the petitioner.

At an informal hearing, a prosecutor is not representing the Secretary of State. Instead, it is a hearing officer, petitioner and petitioner's attorney. At an informal hearing, the hearing officer asks all of the questions.

At both hearings, the hearing officer makes a recommendation, which is reviewed in Springfield before a final decision is rendered.

How difficult is it to get my license back after a DUI conviction?

The rules of the Secretary of State’s office are complicated and a high rate of applications are denied. It is strongly recommended that anyone seeking to obtain driving privileges after a revocation, particularly for DUI, seek experienced 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 and, in many cases, that an 'undue hardship' has resulted from the loss of license. The burden of demonstrating this is on you at the time of the hearing. In other words, the State does not have to prove that you are a risk; rather you must 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 offenses or more serious offenses.

If I am revoked for DUI, what is the minimum period of time that I will be revoked for and how long do I have to wait before I can apply for driving privileges?

The minimum length of revocation depends on the number of DUI convictions on your Illinois driving record:

  • One DUI conviction will result in a minimum 1-year revocation.
  • Two DUI convictions will result in a minimum 5-year revocation if the offenses occurred within a 20-year period. If the offenses occurred outside of a 20-year period, a minimum 1-year revocation will be imposed.
  • Three DUI convictions, regardless of when they occurred, will result in a minimum 10-year revocation.
  • Four or more DUI convictions will result in a lifetime revocation.

Under changes in the law effective 1/1/16, a person can apply for driving relief immediately following the entry of an order of revocation. Attorney Larry Davis of The Davis Law Group, P.C. was a co-drafter of this legislation. Furthermore, persons with lifetime revocations who are Illinois residents can apply for driving privileges beginning 5-years from the date of the last order of revocation or release from incarceration, whichever occurred later. Persons with a lifetime revocation who are out-of-state residents can apply for reinstatement of their driving privileges 10-years from the date of the last order of revocation (regardless of any period of incarceration).

(Note: Out-of-state DUIs will not count towards the minimum period of revocation, unless they are also on your Illinois driving record. However, out-of-state DUIs will count towards a lifetime revocation even if they do not appear on your driving record.)

Also, please remember that these are minimum periods and that a revocation continues indefinitely even after you become eligible for reinstatement until you obtain a favorable decision following a Secretary of State administrative hearing.

How difficult is it to get driving privileges after a suspension or revocation for multiple moving violations or other non-DUI offenses?

Just as in the case of a revocation for a DUI, the procedures followed by the Secretary of State are extremely technical and complicated for suspensions and revocations based on other offenses. The first step is to determine whether there is another solution short of having an administrative hearing. Typically, this will involve your attorney looking at each moving violation conviction that is the basis for the suspension or revocation and determining whether it is possible to reopen the case and have the offense(s) removed from your driving record, which would in turn result in the removal of the suspension or revocation.

In the event that this is not feasible, a hearing will be required. The issue in determining whether relief should be granted is the same as in any other case, that is whether you are a risk to the public safety. The Davis Law Group, P.C. is experienced in what is necessary to obtain a favorable decision and will guide you through the exact steps that must be followed.

How do I prove that I am not a risk to the public safety?

During a driver's license hearing, the Secretary of State’s office considers several factors in the case of a DUI offender in determining if he or she is a risk. For example, the State will consider an alcohol/drug evaluation and any treatment documentation completed by a State-licensed program, character reference letters, in some circumstances support group letters, 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, whether your treatment adequately addressed any underlying reasons for alcohol and/or drug abuse, the lifestyle changes you have made, any support group involvement such as AA, NA or non-traditional support group, and other prior driving or alcohol/drug-related offenses.

Other factors may also be considered in both alcohol/drug and non-substance abuse cases such as criminal history, overall driving record including previous moving violations, accidents, etc.

What are the different risk classifications?

Individuals must be placed within one of the five risk classifications that the Division Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) has created before applying for a driving permit or license reinstatement through the Illinois Secretary of State. The different classifications generally defined are as follows:

Minimal Risk

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 submitted to testing and had a BAC of less than .15 as a result of the arrest for DUI. Additionally, the individual must have an insufficient number of other symptoms of substance abuse or dependence which would require a higher classification. 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 [10] hours of SUPR defined DUI Risk Education are required. These ten hours must be divided between at least four sessions with each session consisting of two and one-half hours each.

Moderate Risk

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 an insufficient number of symptoms of substance abuse or dependence which would require a higher classification. A minimum of ten hours of SUPR 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 [12] hours of early intervention.

Significant Risk

Individuals with only one DUI but who have a BAC of .20 or higher as a result of the most current DUI arrest and/or other sufficient symptoms of substance abuse must be classified at minimum as Significant Risk. Significant Risk individuals must have twenty [20] hours of alcohol and/or drug treatment in addition to any recommended continuing care services. They must also complete risk education.

High Risk (Dependent or Non-Dependent)

High Risk Dependent

Individuals classified as High Risk Dependent must have sufficient symptoms to indicate substance dependence regardless of their driving record.

High Risk Dependent individuals must successfully complete a minimum of seventy-five [75] hours of dependency treatment and upon completion of any and all necessary treatment and after discharge, have active ongoing participation in all activities specified in the continuing care plan.

High Risk Non-dependent

High Risk Non-dependent individuals are those whose last three DUI dispositions resulting from separate incidents (i.e. any combination of DUI convictions or court-ordered supervisions, prior statutory summary suspensions, or prior reckless driving convictions reduced from DUI) occurred within a ten [10] year period prior to the date of the most current arrest but are not otherwise dependent on alcohol and/or drugs.

High Risk Non-dependent individuals must successfully complete a minimum of seventy-five [75] hours of substance abuse treatment and upon completion of any and all necessary treatment and after discharge, have active ongoing participation in all activities specified in the continuing care plan.

* Note that a person who has sufficient symptoms indicating alcohol and/or drug dependency will be placed at a High Risk Dependent classification even if they would otherwise be eligible for a lower classification based on their arrest history or BAC levels.

What do I do if I was never required by the court to complete treatment for my DUI or I was unable to complete treatment?

Under the rules of the Secretary of State’s office anyone classified as Significant Risk or High Risk is required to complete certain treatment requirements in order to obtain driving relief. Moderate Risk classified persons are required to complete what is known as an Early Intervention Program.

Many people fail to complete treatment (or early intervention) for a variety of reasons (i.e. the court never required it, financial hardship, or transportation issues). Some individuals completed treatment but no longer have the required treatment documentation and the program they went to no longer has copies or has since closed.

The question then arises, do I have to go to treatment even though it has been years since my DUI arrest? The answer may be no.

Under the Secretary of State rules, a person may be eligible to obtain a treatment waiver (also known as a treatment needs assessment), which will avoid the need to go to treatment (or early intervention). Usually, these are situations where a number of years has passed since the DUI arrest, the person has maintained a non-problematic substance use pattern or abstinence and has made accompanying substantial lifestyle changes. In those cases, the treatment provider may consider a treatment waiver.

Please note that for minimal, moderate and significant risk persons, the 10-hour risk education requirement cannot be waived.

Why could the Secretary of State deny me driving relief?

The Secretary of State has adopted technical and complex rules which they use in granting or denying 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. At a formal hearing, 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 and/or with 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.

Finally, you be denied if the hearing officer believes that the information provided at the time of the hearing indicates an ongoing alcohol or drug problem or that you do not demonstrate a sufficient hardship.

How long does it take to get a hearing and a decision on my application?

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. 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 rescission 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. There is no time limitation as to when the Secretary of State must issue a decision, however, a decision will generally be issued within 90 days of the hearing.

I had my formal hearing and I am waiting for a decision. I need to be able to drive now. Can I get temporary driving privileges?

No. Driving privileges can only be obtained after a successful hearing. Under the law, the Secretary of State has 90 days to issue a decision following a formal hearing. There is no way to expedite the Secretary of State’s decision time based on your particular circumstances, hardships or to apply for an interim driving permit while you are waiting for an answer.

After I am granted driving privileges, how long will it take to receive my permit?

If the Secretary of State grants you a Restricted Driving Permit, they will provide you with a list of requirements that you must complete and submit prior to the issuance of your permit. You should complete all requirements and submit them as quickly as possible. Once all requirements have been submitted to the Secretary of State, it typically takes 3-5 weeks to receive the actual Restricted Driving Permit in the mail. If you are granted full reinstatement, the requirements are not as extensive. For example, you will need to obtain SR-22 insurance and pay your reinstatement fees. In most cases, once these requirements are completed, you can obtain your driver’s license in 2-3 business days.

Under the law, if granted a Restricted Driving Permit, you must complete the requirements within 90-days of the issuance of the hearing order. The requirements to obtain full reinstatement must be completed within 1-year of the hearing order.

Will I need to take all of the tests before my driver’s license or driving permit will be issued?

Yes. Anytime a person’s license has been revoked, the Secretary of State requires that you pass the written, vision and road tests before you can obtain either your Restricted Driving Permit or full driver’s license. Usually, if you have already obtained your Restricted Driving Permit and are then granted reinstatement, you will still need to take all tests over again.

Do I need to purchase SR-22 insurance?

If your license has been revoked, you will need to obtain SR-22 insurance. The Secretary of State requires that you maintain this insurance for a 36-month period. This requirement can be met at any time. You do not need to wait to be granted privileges to obtain SR-22 insurance. You will receive credit towards the 36-month requirement as soon as you begin carrying SR-22.

Will I get my full license back or do I have to drive on a restricted driving permit (RDP) first?

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 may first be granted a restricted driving permit (‘RDP’), commonly known as a ‘hardship license’. There are generally seven (7) types of RDPs: work, medical, support group, child care, elder care, educational and BAIID required. 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 or further driving privileges. Since, in most cases, the permit is issued for 12 months, you must drive on it for 9 months before you are eligible for another hearing.

Note that after driving successfully on a permit, reinstatement is still not automatic. You must still first have another hearing before the Secretary of State.

Will I have to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (‘BAIID’) installed on my vehicle?

You must have a BAIID installed on your vehicle as a condition of having a restricted driving permit if any of the following are true:

  • You have received any combination of 2 or more suspensions or revocations which arise out of separate DUI arrests.
  • Your revocation is based on Aggravated DUI that resulted in death or serious personal injury.
  • You were issued a Monitoring Device Driving Permit and that permit was cancelled for any reason, including a cancellation based on a conviction for the underlying DUI.
If you have more than one conviction for DUI, you will neeed to have a BAIID device installed in every vehicle that is registered in your name.

There are certain limited exemptions to the BAIID requirement which are generally related to persons who drive employer owned or leased vehicles. If you have 2 or more DUI convictions in Illinois or any other state, you may be required on a BAIID device for 5-years before being considered for full reinstatement.

The Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device is used to prevent drivers 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.

More information on BAIID requirements for RDPs can be found here.

How long will I need to have a BAIID in my car?

The amount of time you will need to have the BAIID device installed in your vehicle varies. If you have one DUI conviction and a statutory summary suspension arising out of different arrests, you will be required to have the BAIID device installed in your vehicle for 1-year. If you have two or more convictions for DUI, you will be required to have the BAIID installed in every vehicle that is registered in your name for a period of 5-years. If you have four or more convictions for DUI (and any arrest occurred after January 1, 1999), you will need to have the BAIID device installed in all vehicles under your name for the rest of your life.

If I drive a vehicle owned or leased by my employer, do I still have to have a BAIID device installed?

You can obtain an employment exemption for a vehicle owned or leased by your employer, which will exempt you from the BAIID requirement if the vehicle is not assigned exclusively to you and you do not use the vehicle to commute between home and work or use it for personal purposes.

However, if you have been convicted of two or more DUI’s within a 5-year period, you cannot apply for the employment exemption until either your driving privileges have been revoked for at least one year or you have been on a Restricted Driving Permit with a BAIID device for at least 1-year.

Can I put my BAIID in someone else’s car?

Yes. However, if you have more than 1 DUI conviction and are therefore are subject to the 5-year BAIID requirement, you must still have the device installed in any vehicles registered in your name.

Can other people drive the car with my BAIID?

Yes, but keep in mind that those people will need to use the BAIID in order to start and operate the car. If a violation was detected while someone else was driving your car, you will be required to submit an explanation to the Secretary of State. If you are claiming that it was someone else who committed the violation, the Secretary of State will have the ability to verify who was using the BAIID by checking the camera that is installed with the device.

Do I need to have a lawyer represent me?

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.

The attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. 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, 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 before the Secretary of State, 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.

How much will it cost to have an attorney represent me?

At The Davis Law Group, P.C. we are well-aware that the cost of legal services are of paramount concern to our clients and we do our best to maintain fees that are fair and reasonable. Generally, and most importantly, the attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. will not accept representation unless we believe there is a strong likelihood of obtaining a favorable decision in a case. While we cannot guarantee a result in any case, we can guarantee you that we will not take any matter before the Secretary of State unless, in our experience, the chances of a favorable outcome justify our involvement.

In those rare cases, where we cannot be of assistance we will provide you with an explanation as to why and what steps, if any, you should take prior to proceeding in order to enhance your ultimate chances of success.

If we believe we can be of assistance to you then fees are based upon the complexity of the case including such factors as the number of DUIs or other alcohol-related offenses; seriousness of non-alcohol-related offenses; other criminal history, prior denials of requests for relief, etc. After a full consultation, we will be able to quote you a fee for our legal services prior to proceeding with our representation.

If I have already had a hearing and have been denied, can a lawyer still help me?

Absolutely. As your attorneys, The Davis Law Group, P.C. will obtain all of your prior hearing records and determine what specific issues need to be addressed. We will then ensure these issues are addressed by your evaluator and treatment provider. Then, as in all other cases, we will prepare you for and represent you at your hearing.

Where will my hearing be held?

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 facilities are located at:

5401 N. Elston Avenue
Chicago, IL 60630

AND

17 N. State Street
12th Floor
Chicago, IL 60602

The Joliet facility is located at:

54 N. Ottawa Street
4th Floor
Joliet, IL 60436

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