Although a driver’s license is technically a “privilege” and not a “right,” driver's licenses are infinitely more important than fishing licenses or licenses to carry concealed weapons. Many people assume that the Secretary of State feels the same way at DUI license reinstatement hearings, and that they will get their licenses back after submitting some basic paperwork, detailing their hardships, and promising not to drink and drive again.
In a few low-risk situations, such as a first-time offense with a very low BAC, such an approach may be sufficient, but in nearly all other cases, the process is much more complex.
Before reinstatement proceedings formally begin, all drivers must submit to an alcohol evaluation, where a counselor performs a risk evaluation. The categories are quite complicated and often overlap because they often take into account both the number of offenses and BAC level.
- Level I: Only first-time offenders with a BAC under .14 can be in the lowest risk category. The minimum reinstatement requirement is a 10-hour DRE (driving risk evaluation) class.
- Level II(a): First-time offenders with a BAC between .15 and .19 are in the next category up, and must complete twelve hours of alcohol counselling in addition to the DRE class.
- Level II(b): This is the lowest possible classification for repeat offenders; additionally, anyone with a BAC of .20 or higher is a minimum Level II(b), regardless of prior criminal history. For license reinstatement purposes, prior reckless driving convictions, and in some cases even prior DUI acquittals, count as prior DUI convictions. The Level II(b) requirements are a DRE class, 20 hours of alcohol counselling, and completed aftercare.
- Level III(a): Persons who exhibit fewer than three of the five dependency symptoms, which are available here, and/or have three or more DUI arrests within the past 10 years, must complete 75 hours of alcohol counselling and document 12 months of problem-free alcohol use.
- Level III(b): These persons have three or more dependency symptoms and are therefore presumed to be problem alcohol abusers; this determination is based solely on the symptoms because even first-time offenders can be Level III(b). The good news is that these drivers do not have to complete the DRE. However, there are significant hurdles to license reinstatement at this level: 75 hours of alcohol counseling, 12 months of complete abstinence (the driver’s testimony alone is probably insufficient), and three letters demonstrating participation in Alcoholics Anonymous or another approved support program (meeting sign-in sheets are normally not enough).
Note that there is nothing in the minimum requirements about a hardship. Although drivers need to demonstrate their hardships, these things alone are not conclusive because the hearing officer has heard all the stories before.
Types of Hearings
First-time offenders are entitled to informal hearings. There is no record and no right of appeal, and denied drivers can have a rehearing in thirty days. As a general rule, informal hearings are a good idea only in Level I cases. In formal hearings, records are made and the hearing officers release detailed opinions, so denied drivers know exactly what they need to do next. Furthermore, formal hearings are appealable.
Rely on Experienced Attorneys
To help you get your license back after a DUI conviction, contact an assertive criminal defense attorney in Schaumburg from Glasgow & Olsson. Convenient payment plans are available.
(image courtesy of Gregory F. Maxwell)