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How To Get Your License Back After a DUI in Illinois

In order to protect public safety, the state of Illinois has strict penalties regarding driving under the influence of alcohol or the influence of drugs. If you have been arrested and/or convicted of driving over the legal limit, your driving privileges will automatically be removed and you may be subject to additional penalties.

The process of reinstating your license depends largely upon the circumstances of your individual case. For assistance navigating the legal proceedings to get your license back after a DUI, contact one of our experienced attorneys at DUI Lawyers 24/7. Here we will address the most commonly asked questions to help you get back on the road safely and quickly. 

How Long Will You Lose Your License After a DUI?

The short answer to how long you lose your license for a DUI is: it depends. The minimum period of time you may be without a license in the state of Illinois following a DUI depends on whether you received a statutory summary suspension or a statutory summary revocation. Many factors determine the type of penalty you may incur including:

  • The type of offense
  • The number of offenses
  • Driving record
  • Conviction status

Learn More: What to Do After a DUI

What's The Difference Between A License Suspension And A License Revocation?

It is important to understand the difference between a license suspension and a license revocation when trying to get your license back.

A statutory summary suspension is the temporary loss of driving privileges for a predetermined period of time. At the end of the period, your license is automatically reinstated if you have paid the required reinstatement fee.

Here are some common DUI arrest offenses and their automatic license suspension times:

  • Failed Chemical Testing
    • First offense - 6-month suspension 
    • Second offense - 1-year suspension 
  • Chemical Test Refusal 
    • First offense - 12-month suspension
    • Second offense - 3-year suspension
  • Failed Field Sobriety Test 
    • 6-month suspension
  • Refusal to Submit to Field Sobriety Test
    • 12-month suspension
DUI license suspension time - image

A statutory summary revocation is the loss of driving privileges for an undetermined period of time. License revocation is typically enforced in DUI cases that involve serious/fatal injuries, cases with criminal offenses in addition to the DUI charges, and for repeat offenders. After the minimum revocation period has ended, you may become eligible for license reinstatement and must fulfill the court requirements to get back behind the wheel.

Your license may be subject to multiple suspensions or revocations at the same time.

An experienced defense attorney can help you determine the exact length of your individual suspension or revocation.

Related Content: Do You Have to Take a Breathalyzer in Illinois?

Can I Get a Temporary License During the Suspension Period?

Drivers dealing with their first DUI offense are eligible for a Monitor Device Driving Permit (MDDP) which allows you to operate a vehicle equipped with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID). A BAIID verifies your blood alcohol content before allowing you to operate your vehicle, ensuring that you are not putting yourself or others at risk. This process is subject to additional fees and court rules.

What Steps Do I Need to Take to Reinstate My Driver's License

For a license suspension, the process is quite easy. You must pay the $250 reinstatement fee to the Secretary of State and maintain a clean driving record. Your license will automatically be reinstated after your minimum suspension time has ended.

Unfortunately, the process to reinstate a license revocation is much more complicated. As revocation is given to those of a higher risk level or with other criminal penalties, the following list of requirements must be met to become eligible for license reinstatement:

  • Undergo illegal drug evaluation and/or alcohol evaluation
  • A clean driving record 
  • Proof of drug treatment or alcohol treatment if drug or alcohol dependence is detected (this could include inpatient alcohol treatment) 
  • Complete alcohol and/or drug education program 
  • Attend your license reinstatement hearings
  • Demonstrate respect for public safety and follow the rules
  • Pay the $500 reinstatement fee
  • Pass the license exam
  • Pay the application fee

Enlisting the help of legal counsel can greatly reduce the headache of attacking this list on your own.

Will I Need to Attend a Court Hearing to Get My License Back?

The state of Illinois has two types of hearings, informal and formal. The type of hearing a person is required to attend may depend on the type of offenses they are facing.

Informal Hearing

First-time offenders without any fatalities or other criminal charges may attend an informal hearing.

Informal hearings are available by walk-in at designated Driver Services facilities. During the informal hearing process, you will meet with a hearing officer who will gather all relevant documents pertaining to your drunk driving charges and submit them to the court. You will be mailed a decision within 90 days. The verdict may: deny your reinstatement, grant you a Restricted Driving Permit, or fully reinstate your license.

It is important to know, there is no record of an informal hearing, so the court decision cannot be appealed.

A man attending a license reinstatement hearing

Formal Hearing

If you have multiple offenses or are dealing with an offense that involves a fatality, you must submit a formal request for a hearing. It is advised to have a license reinstatement attorney speak on your behalf for the legal proceedings.

A formal hearing can be obtained through a written request sent to the Secretary of State along with a filing fee within 90 days of the notice of your suspension or revocation. The court will send you a notice with the date and time of your hearing. 

Formal hearings are conducted by an Administrative Judge. A Secretary of State prosecutor and a formal hearing officer will be present to review the evidence, hear your testimony and submit the court's recommendation. The court will contact you with a decision in 3-5 weeks. The decision may deny your reinstatement, grant you a Restricted Driving Permit, or fully reinstate your license.

If you choose to represent yourself and are not fully prepared for the reinstatement hearing process, it is best to notify the court to request a new hearing. 

Learn More: Do You Need a Lawyer For a DUI?

Can a Lawyer Help You Reinstate Your License?

The license reinstatement process can be complicated and confusing for a variety of reasons. Do you fully understand your charges? Are you struggling with addiction to alcohol or drug use history? Do you know how to complete each step of the requirements? There is no need to risk the journey alone. Contact an Illinois DUI attorney today to support and guide you.

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