When a driver’s license is “suspended” following a DUI arrest, it is automatically valid again after the suspension period expires, provided that the driver pays a reinstatement fee, provides proof of insurance, and complies with a few other formalities. However, when the license is “revoked” following a DUI conviction, it remains invalid forever unless and until the Secretary of State rescinds the revocation.
At the conclusion of the minimum revocation period, eligible convicted motorists can request hearings to have their driving privileges restored. License reinstatement is largely a mechanical process of submitting the proper paperwork at the proper time. license restoration, however, involves the driver showing that he or she does not pose a safety hazard if allowed back on the road. This burden requires planning and strategy, and benefits greatly from the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney.
Some time ago, Illinois lawmakers changed the license revocation statute, so most drivers can request license restoration. The minimum revocation periods are:
- One year (first conviction),
- Five years (second conviction),
- Ten years (third conviction), and
- Fifteen years (fourth or subsequent conviction).
After a fourth DUI, drivers are only eligible for restricted driving permits; they must also demonstrate three years of not drinking any alcohol.
Before requesting a formal or informal hearing, drivers must complete a Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse screening. The results of this screening basically establish a prima facie risk factor and give drivers the blueprints for getting their licenses back.
- Minimal Risk: Only drivers with no prior DUI arrests and BACs under .15 qualify for this level; that includes court supervision and reckless driving. They must complete at least 10 hours of alcohol education in no more than four sessions.
- Moderate Risk: First-time offenders with a BAC between .15 and .19 and/or a chemical test refusal must complete the 10-hour DUI school as well as twelve hours of more intensive alcohol counseling.
- Significant Risk: One prior alcohol-related enforcement contact, or a BAC above .20, requires a minimum 20 hours of alcohol counseling, plus aftercare completion, on top of the DUI school.
- High Risk: After two or more DUI convictions, there is an unwritten presumption that the person is too dangerous to drive; in the first three categories, that same presumption is there but it is not as strong. To overcome this hurdle, they must complete 75 hours of intensive alcohol counseling, all required aftercare, and probably demonstrate at least a year of abstinence and active membership in a twelve-step program (meeting logs alone are not sufficient proof).
Timing is often critical. If the driver completes the requirements too quickly, that may create the impression that they are rushing through it; too slowly, and that may demonstrate a lack of commitment.
These are only minimum requirements, and the minimum is normally not enough. To demonstrate safety, many hearing officers respond to a before-and-after argument. For example, drivers often drank because they associated with certain people or in response to certain stimuli, and if they establish that those factors are no longer present, restoration is much more likely.
Contact Aggressive Attorneys
Driver’s license restoration is not automatic in Illinois. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal law attorney in Schaumburg, contact Glasgow & Olsson. We routinely and successfully handle these matters throughout Chicagoland.
(image courtesy of Ezra Jeffrey)