Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in the United States, and the state of Illinois is no exception when it comes to enforcing strict laws against it. Even a first-time DUI offense can result in significant legal consequences. Among these consequences are administrative penalties that can include the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, effectively keeping you off the road for an extended period. The loss of driving privileges can disrupt your daily life, but with the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, there are procedures in place that can help you regain your license under certain circumstances. This article delves into two potential procedures for reinstating your driving privileges in Illinois.
Rescinding a Summary Suspension
In many legal contexts, individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, the Statutory Summary Suspension associated with DUI charges in Illinois operates differently. Following a DUI arrest, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for 46 days if you either refused chemical testing or if the test results indicated a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit. After a designated period (typically six months, one year, or three years), the suspension ends, and your license becomes eligible for reinstatement upon payment of a reinstatement fee.
Illinois Statutes 5/6-208.1 specify that individuals with previous DUI-related offenses within the last five years face longer summary suspension periods than first-time offenders. Additionally, refusing chemical testing results in a longer suspension than if you consent to the test. Depending on these factors, your license suspension can last anywhere from six months to three years.
However, individuals subjected to a statutory summary suspension have the opportunity to challenge and potentially rescind the suspension to restore their driving privileges. According to Illinois Statutes 5/2-118.1, an attorney can assist by promptly requesting a hearing to challenge the suspension and regain your right to drive. It’s crucial to file this request within 90 days of the arrest, necessitating swift action from your legal defense team.
Getting a Revoked License Reinstated
The information above pertains to the consequences related to DUI chemical testing, but the aftermath of a DUI conviction presents a distinct set of challenges. As outlined in Illinois Statutes 5/6-205, if a court finds a defendant guilty of DUI, the Secretary of State will immediately revoke their “license, permit, or driving privileges.”
For individuals whose driving privileges have not been revoked for life, which can occur after multiple DUI convictions, there may be a possibility of reinstatement. However, the waiting period before applying for reinstatement varies based on numerous factors and can significantly differ from person to person.
Unlike license suspension, the restoration process after a revocation is typically neither quick nor straightforward. Anyone seeking license reinstatement must apply for a hearing through the Department of Administrative Hearings, where two types of hearings exist:
Informal hearings: These are available for most first-time offenders, where certain Driver Services facilities allow individuals to walk in without requiring an application or appointment to meet with a hearing officer.
Formal hearings: These are mandatory for those with multiple DUI-related loss of driving privileges on their record. To obtain a formal hearing, one must submit a formal request and pay a fee to schedule the hearing.
During the hearing, the defendant may choose to represent themselves, but it is highly advisable to have an attorney by their side. The prosecutor or hearing officer representing the Secretary of State will typically ask numerous personal questions regarding the petitioner’s alcohol/drug history and the circumstances surrounding the arrest(s). The petitioner’s ability to regain driving privileges often hinges on their responses to these questions, making the guidance of an experienced SOS Hearing attorney invaluable. This is why individuals are entitled to have legal representation during both informal and formal hearings. If the Secretary of State denies driving relief, the attorney can also assist the petitioner in appealing the decision.