How do Illinois Drivers Get Back on the Road After DUI License Revocation?

In the wake of a DUI arrest, the state almost always suspends the defendant’s drivers’ license. After the suspension period elapses, the defendant’s drivers’ license automatically becomes valid again, assuming the defendant pays a reinstatement fee, presents proof of insurance, and clears another hurdle or two.

In the wake of a DUI conviction, the state revokes the defendant’s drivers’ license. After the period expires, the defendant may apply for license reinstatement. At such hearings, drivers have the burden of proof to show that reinstating their licenses would not pose a hazard to the public. Such a showing requires more than completing the minimum requirements and acting remorseful.

DUI License Revocation Periods in Illinois

In this context, there is a 20-year lookback period in the Prairie State, so once a person is convicted of DUI (or almost any other alcohol-related offense), the mark remains on the person’s record for that period of time, at least for penalty purposes. The periods of post-conviction revocation are:

  • One year for a first conviction (two years if the defendant is under 21),
  • Five years for a second conviction,
  • 10 years for a third conviction, and
  • Lifetime revocation for a fourth or subsequent conviction.

In lifetime revocation situations, drivers may follow the process outlined below and obtain Restricted Driving Permits that allow them to drive to and from certain locations and/or at certain hours. Usually, the driver must wait four years before applying for an RDP.

The DL Reinstatement Hearing in Illinois

Drivers’ license reinstatement is a long and complex process in Illinois which begins with a drug and alcohol evaluation. This evaluation places defendants into different risk categories which determine the minimum necessary for reinstatement. The categories are:

  • Minimal: Most reinstatement proceedings involve minimal risk drivers. These individuals are first-time offenders who had a BAC under .15 and have no dependency symptoms. These defendants must complete a 10-hour DUI education program.
  • Moderate: In addition to the education program, first-time offenders who had a BAC between .15 and .19 (or who refused a chemical test) and no dependency symptoms must also complete twelve hours of alcohol counseling.
  • Significant: The stakes are higher if the person had one prior alcohol conviction, a BAC above .20, or any other dependency symptom. The additional requirements are a risk education course, 20 hours of counseling, and aftercare completion.
  • High: At this point, there is essentially a presumption that license reinstatement would be a danger to society. So, if the defendant has at least two priors and/or multiple dependency symptoms, the defendant must complete, at a minimum, 75 hours of alcohol treatment. Some defendants must also provide proof of either responsible alcohol use or complete abstinence.

The hearing is either formal or informal. Informal hearings are generally only available for minimal risk cases. These hearings are easier to prepare for, but if the officer denies reinstatement, there is no record for a defense attorney to use for the next hearing.

To overcome the aforementioned burden of proof, we sometimes advise the defendant to complete the next-highest category requirements. That step, along with some others, often tips the scales of justice in the defendant’s favor.

Contact Experienced Lawyers

Post-conviction drivers’ license reinstatement is not a gimme. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal law attorney in Schaumburg, contact Glasgow & Olsson.

(image courtesy of Brandon Wong)

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