Many people do not know what their first steps should be following a DUI arrest, or even how their case will take shape. It is a stressful and often confusing time that can have a significant and lasting impact on your future. In this article, we will help clarify the situation surrounding your license status after a DUI arrest in Illinois.
DUI cases are typically built in two parts: criminal charges and administrative penalties. These take two drastically different paths; you are innocent until proven guilty when facing your criminal charges, while the administrative penalties (specifically your driver's license suspension) will apply automatically 46 days after the police officer hands you the ticket. You will have an opportunity to fight your loss of driving privileges by requesting a hearing through the Secretary of State's office, but you have a limited window of time in which to do so.
If your breath sample returns a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit, or you fail another sobriety test that leads to a DUI arrest, you will have to deal with an automatic license suspension following your arrest. Contact an experienced DUI attorney at Tommalieh Law today for help maintaining or restoring your driving privileges.
Can I Drive After my DUI Arrest?
You will be permitted to drive for a limited time after your DUI arrest, allowing you to get your affairs in order for when your license is suspended and affording you an opportunity to fight the suspension. This window closes 46 days after your arrest, at which point you will automatically have your driving privileges suspended unless you have successfully appealed the suspension.
If you are an Illinois driver your license was likely confiscated by your arresting police officer, but they will issue a Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension to you. This will be a piece of paper with your driver's license information entered on it, which will allow you to drive until your suspension becomes active.
If you fail to request a hearing or your suspension is upheld you may still be eligible for a hardship license or restricted driving permit that will grant you limited permission to drive to necessary locations such as school, work, or doctor's appointments. Consult with your attorney on this, they will know whether you qualify for one and can lay out the path you will need to take in order to obtain this permit.
How Long Will my License be Suspended?
The length of your license suspension will depend on several factors, most importantly your DUI history.
- If this is your first DUI conviction you will face a driver's license suspension of 1 year, while drivers under the age of 21 will receive 2 years.
- If this is your second DUI conviction within 20 years you will face a driver's license suspension of 5 years, while drivers under the age of 21 will receive either a 5-year suspension or a suspension until their 21st birthday, whichever option is longer.
- If this is your third DUI conviction within 20 years you will face a minimum 10-year suspension regardless of your age.
- If this is your 4th DUI conviction within 20 years you will have your license revoked rather than suspended. This means that your driving privileges are ended indefinitely rather than merely put on hold for a specified time. That being said, there is a chance you could qualify for a restricted driving permit after 5 years if you can provide proof of 3 years of sobriety from both drugs and alcohol. This will likely require the installation of a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) in your vehicle.
While your driving history is one of the most important factors determining the length of your license suspension, it is certainly not the only one. Another important point is the result of your DUI. Meaning that if your actions resulted in the death or injury of another person you can expect harsher consequences. This may come in the form of a lengthened summary suspension, a longer suspension following a conviction (in addition to other elevated criminal penalties), or both. You likely will also be deemed ineligible for a restricted driving permit or BAIID.
The Difference between a Suspension and a Revocation
It is important to note that there is a clear distinction between suspension and revocation of your driver's license.
- Suspension: If you receive a license suspension you are given a specified length of time in which you are not permitted to drive. This is a minimum period of time in which you're license will be suspended. When it comes to an end you will be required to pay a reinstatement fee, after which your driving privileges are restored and you may receive a new license.
- Revocation: If you receive a license revocation your driving privileges will be held indefinitely, with no guarantee that they will be restored. Rather than having your ability to drive automatically restored, you will be required to attend a hearing with the Secretary of State's office, where you will have to demonstrate that you will not pose a threat to public safety if you are allowed to return to driving. This may be done by offering proof of your continued sobriety, staying clear of legal trouble, completing of drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs, etc. Your driving history, the specific offense leading to your license revocation, and the details surrounding your case will all factor into the decision to restore your license or not.
Can Your License Be Revoked For DUI?
Yes, your driver's license can certainly be revoked for driving under the influence of alcohol. As we discussed above, if you are a repeat offender and this makes your 4th conviction you will lose your license indefinitely rather than receiving another suspension. Additionally, if there are circumstances that increase the severity of your DUI charge there is a chance you could face revocation of your license rather than suspension.
Challenging a Suspension or Revocation
You are entitled to a hearing in which you may challenge your license suspension or revocation, but you must request it as it will not be automatically assigned. This is not a court of law and there is no requirement that you bring legal representation to this hearing, but it is a good idea to do so. The success rate of individuals who bring an attorney to these hearings is considerably higher than those who do not.
In general, the process for a licensed hearing will entail the following steps:
- Speak with a Hearing Officer - You will first meet with a hearing officer from the Illinois Secretary of State's office who will determine your eligibility.
- Request Your Hearing - There are two distinct types of hearings, and your particular circumstances will determine which you need. You may request an informal hearing for a license suspension stemming from a first-time DUI charge, minor traffic violation, unpaid tickets, or a crash that did not result in fatalities. You will require a formal hearing if you have a previous DUI history or are responsible for a crash that resulted in a fatality.
- Attend Your Hearing - After receiving the date and time of your hearing you will want to prepare. Either you or, ideally, your lawyer will present your case to the hearing officer arguing for the restoration of your license.
- Wait for Your Results - You will have the final judgment mailed out to you within 90 days of your hearing. This will tell you whether your license has been reinstated, you have been granted a restricted driving permit, or your request has been denied.
How Do I Get Back My Suspended License in Illinois?
While Illinois does not have set requirements for the reinstatement of a suspended or revoked driver's license there are two things you can usually expect. At the end of your period of license suspension, you will need to pay a reinstatement fee and offer proof that you have fulfilled any requirements set for you by a criminal court following a conviction.
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These court requirements will depend on the factors surrounding your particular case and can vary from one DUI charge to another, but often include:
- Avoidance of further traffic violations
- Offer proof that you were able to successfully complete an alcohol counseling program
- Offer proof of your continued sobriety from alcohol and/or drugs
- Meet with a hearing officer from the office of the Illinois Secretary of State
- Successfully complete a written road test, practical driving test, and vision test
- Pay any fines and court fees in full
Note that your license will not be reinstated immediately after fulfilling any requirements set for you. You will only be permitted to drive after the Secretary of State's office has entered the information onto your driving record.
Work With an Experienced Illinois DUI Lawyer
DUI charges can be difficult to handle on your own. An experienced attorney will know how to approach your drunk driving charges, work with you to avoid jail time, appeal your license suspension through an administrative hearing, and help you obtain a temporary driving permit if necessary. Facing a license suspension or revocation only makes the situation more stressful, and a knowledgeable DUI lawyer will give you the best chance of getting a favorable decision in a licensed hearing to get your suspension overturned. Contact our dedicated legal team at Tommalieh Law today to schedule a free confidential consultation to see what we can bring to your case.