At the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. we receive a lot of questions from people who want to know how to get their Illinois Driver's License reinstated. While this page covers a lot of questions we get, it is not exhaustive. If there is a specific question we have not covered here, give us a call at 815-740-4025 or reach out to us via our contact page Illinois Driver's License Reinstatement Lawyers
Driver's License Suspended or Revoked? Why does it matter?
A suspension of your license means that there is an automatic termination date. Normally, you will be required to pay some type of reinstatement fee, but you won't need a hearing in order to start driving again. A Revocation, on the other hand, has a termination date, but it does not end automatically with the payment of a reinstatement fee. Revocations of your license will require you to have a hearing with the secretary of state before you can begin driving again. These hearings can be difficult and complex and you should bring an attorney with you before attempting one of these hearings.
A common reason to have a suspension of your license is too many moving violations. If you are over the age of 21 and you receive 3 or more minor moving violations in a 12 month period, your license will be suspended. If you are under the age of 21, it will only take 2 minor moving violations in a 24 month period to suspend your license. There are of course more severe reasons that could result in a suspension of your license: Possession of a fake ID, fleeing and eluding or leaving the scene of an accident resulting in more than $1,000.00 in damage.
Revocations of your license can occur after receiving a conviction for a DUI, drag racing or a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle. There are many other offenses than can result in a revocation and you will be required to have a hearing before you can begin driving again.
Some common reasons for revocation of your Illinois Driver's License include, but not limited to:
- Felony with a motor vehicle
- Street Racing / Drag Racing
- Fleeing and Eluding the Police
- Aggravated Fleeing and Eluding
- Under that age of 21 Illegal Transportation of Alcohol (x2)
- Leaving the Scene of an accident with death or personal injury.
Get Your License Back after Suspension
A suspension of your license is only the temporary loss for a specific time period. At the end of the time period of suspension, you will be automatically reinstated with the payment of a reinstatement fee.
Common ways to receive an Illinois Suspension:
- Three (3) or more moving violations within a 12-month period
- Two or more moving violations within a 24-month period for drivers under the age of 21
- Possession of a driver’s license or ID card belonging to another
- Fleeing and eluding a police officer
- Leaving the scene of an accident where property damage exceeds $1,000.00
- Two convictions for illegal transportation of open liquor within a period of 1 year
- Violation of driver’s license classification
- Possession of a controlled substance, cannabis or methamphetamine while operating or in physical control of a motor vehicle
The seriousness of the offense can determine whether the Illinois of Secretary of State revokes or suspends the driver's license.
Can I Drive on a Suspended or Revoked License in Illinois
You may be tempted to drive on a suspended or revoked license. Don't do it. If you are caught driving on a suspended or revoked license, you will be charged with a misdemeanor at a minimum which could include mandatory penalties like community service work or jail, and in some situations, you may be charged with a Felony that could land you in prison. Some additional penalties could be an increased suspension period or revocation of your license and the possible seizure and loss of your car.
Steps You Need to Complete If DUI Revoked
- Keep your Driving Record clean
- Complete Drug and Alcohol Evaluation
- Participate and complete any remedial and or DUI and Drug treatment recommended
- Provide proof of economic responsibility
- Participate in a Formal or Informal Hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State
- Pay all fees along with the driver’s license reinstatement fees (typically $500)
- Pay a $50 filing fee if you are required to have a formal reinstatement hearing - No filing fee required for an Informal Hearing
- Appear before a hearing officer and obtain a granting of driving privileges and file proof of financial responsibility
- Pass a driving test, a written exam, and a vision test
- Persons with multiple DUI convictions must drive with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) for a period of 5 continuous years even if they are otherwise eligible for full reinstatement.
Do I need an Informal or Formal Hearing?
As a general rule, less severe offenses can be dealt with in an informal hearing. In other situations, like multiple suspensions or revocations for a DUI, it will generally require a formal hearing. For example, an out of state resident trying to remove the hold in Illinois to obtain a license out of state, will be required to have a formal hearing or fill out the out-of-state packet. Also, individuals that had their MDDP cancelled and are now seeking a restricted driving permit (RDP) or persons that caused a death of another will be required to have a formal hearing.
All informal hearings are held via a walk in basis, and there is no need to make an appointment. Only you, your lawyer, and the hearing officer need to be present. At the hearing, the informal hearing officer asks all the questions. You and your attorney will have prepared and gone through the questions in advance of this hearing.
After your hearing, the State of Illinois has up to 90 days to give you a response. Although, the actually response time is typically much quicker. Once your receive the letter granting driving privileges, there will be steps to follow prior to actually driving again. If your are denied at the hearing, the letter you receive will explain the reasons why. Further, If you are denied at an informal hearing, you can’t appeal it but you can have another hearing 30 days later or you can request a formal hearing instead.
A $50 fee is required to set the hearing. Upon receipt of the request for hearing and payment of the filing fee, the Secretary of State will provide written notice of the date and time of the hearing either by regular mail or email. A Formal Hearing is recorded and very detailed. In many ways it is similar to a criminal trial. At this hearing you are present, your attorney, the attorney for the Secretary of State and an administrative law judge. Your attorney presents your case to the judge including the exhibits and evidence for the hearing. In turn, the Secretary of State attorney has the ability and will cross examine you as well. You and your attorney will have prepared in advance for this interrogation.
Decisions of the hearing are mailed or emailed to you within 90 days of the hearing in the form of a detailed order. You have the right to appeal the decision to the circuit court or seek another formal hearing once every three months from the date of hearing, if you are denied.
The rules and procedures of the Illinois Secretary of State are vey complex and can result in a denial without the skill and expertise of an Illinois Reinstatement Lawyer by your side. It is strongly recommended that you obtain a license reinstatement attorney to help.
Do I need an Attorney to Reinstate my License?
Unfortunately, you don't just walk into a hearing and get your license back. The Illinois secretary of state hearing process is complicated and yields high denials of the applications that are heard. Having an experienced license reinstatement lawyer with you can make the difference between a denial and an approval. It is important to know that unlike a criminal case, the hearing to get your license back places the burden of proof squarely on you. You must demonstrate to the State of Illinois that you are not a risk to public safety. That, is not an easy task when you attempt these hearings on your own. Our office has the experience to present your case.
How Much Does an Attorney Cost?
Our office is very aware of the impact of the cost of legal services on clients. We believe we offer reasonable fees as compared to other attorneys. Our office has found that clients often come to us after they have been denied with other attorneys that offered cheap rates. In the end, hiring an experienced and qualified attorney to help in this process will save you time and money in the long run.
What is the Process for Driver License Reinstatement?
A revocation of your driver's licenser actually continues indefinitely until you have a hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State. Even after the term ends of your license revocation, you will continue to be revoked. In fact, there is not automatic reinstatement of your license after a revocation. Rather, a person becomes 'eligible' for reinstatement and cannot drive until they appear at a hearing before the Secretary of State and are granted driving privileges. The Illinois Secretary of State conducts two types of license reinstatement hearings: Formal and Informal. You may have an informal or formal hearing if you have only been arrested for DUI once. Generally, formal hearings are required when:
- Two DUI dispositions including a prior supervision, suspension, revocation or reckless driving reduced from DUI.
- Revocation based on a Death.
- Contesting or seeking a modification of a suspension or revocation order
- Cancellation of a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) now seeking a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP) from the State of Illinois
The Illinois Secretary of State will not grant you reinstatement or give you an RDP for that matter, unless you convince them that you are not a risk to public safety. In some cases, clients must also show that an undue hardship exists prior to granting you driving privileges. This means that it is your burden to prove to the State of Illinois that you are safe to be let back on the road. This is an extremely difficult and high burden for you to meet. The worst your driving record is, the harder a task this will be. Moreover, the type of offense or offenses you are revoked for will heighten the scrutiny of the State. For example, causing a death of another while driving is one of the most difficult burdens to overcome.
Am I a Risk To Public Safety?
This is the main question that the Illinois of Secretary of State is seeking to answer at your reinstatement hearing. The state will consider several factors and or evidence in making this determination. For example, the State will review and analyze your alcohol and drug evaluation and all other treatment documentation presented at trial. The state may also consider character reference letters of abstinence, support documents and oral testimony. .
The evaluation and testimony will address issues of the DUI arrests including the reason why the driver was stopped, how much alcohol or drugs were consumed, the driver’s perception of intoxication, the results of any alcohol/drug breath, blood or urine test(s), prior alcohol/drug use history, the reasons for alcohol or drug use in the past, whether treatment adequately addressed any underlying reasons for alcohol and/or drug abuse, the lifestyle changes that have been made (if any), any support group involvement such as AA, NA or non-traditional support group, and other prior driving or alcohol/drug-related offenses. The State will review you overall driving record and other criminal offenses as well.
Multiple Moving Violation Revocations / Other Non-DUI Offenses Reinstatement
In some cases not involving Drugs and or Alcohol, you may be able to reinstate your driving privileges without having a hearing. For example, if you are over the age of 21 and received three (3) moving violation convictions in a 12 month period, you may be able to motion the old ticket back to court and remove a conviction, thereby reinstating your license and avoiding a hearing with the Secretary of State. Our office will review your record and advise whether this or another solution might be available to avoid having the hearing. Our office is experienced in avoiding the Secretary of State where appropriate.
Driver License Suspension and Revocation Length
The minimum length of revocation always depends on your background and the type of offense you are facing.
As a general rule:
- One DUI conviction will result in a 1 year revocation
- Two DUI convictions will give you a 5 year revocation if they occurred within a 20 year period; if outside the 20 year period, a minimum of 1 year revocation will be imposed
- Three (3) DUI Convictions will result in a 10 year revocation
- Lifetime revocations can occur with 4 or more DUI convictions.
When Can I Apply for Driving Relief at a Hearing?
As a general rule, you can apply right away for driving relief after the entry of your revocation. There are exceptions to this rule, however. For example, Illinois residents with 4 or more DUI revocations must wait 5 years before applying for driving relief. Out of State Residents with 4 or more DUI convictions will be required to wait 10 years before applying.
Out-of-State DUI's that don't appear on your Illinois driving record won't count towards the minimum wait time prior to applying for driving relief, unless you have 4 or more DUI convictions. Give us a call at 815-740-4025 to review your record and properly advise of when you can have the hearing.
What's Required for a Hearing?
In addition to the other requirements for getting your driver’s license reinstated, cases involving DUI also require that you obtain a drug/alcohol evaluation. Depending on the results of the evaluation, you will have certain steps to comply with that include taking a substance abuse class and/or enrolling in treatment. The secretary of state has specific rules that you must comply with before you even sit down to have your hearing. An experienced attorney can help you get through this process and ensure that all documentation is in order prior to your hearing.
I Don't Have My Treatment Documents Anymore?
In some situations, clients no longer have proof of the treatment they completed after their last DUI. It is important to know that the Illinois of Secretary of State rules provide for a Treatment Waiver. That is, in some situations, it is possible to avoid re-doing all of your treatment by having a Treatment Waiver document prepared by the evaluator. This can save time and money when preparing for the hearing. A review of your history and a new DUI evaluation would be required prior to making this determination.
What are the Different DUI Risk Classifications?
The only individuals who can be classified as Minimal Risk are those who have no prior conviction or court-ordered supervision for DUI, no prior statutory summary suspension, and no prior reckless driving conviction reduced from DUI. Also, the individual must have had a BAC of less than .15 as a result of the arrest for DUI. Also, the individual must have no other symptoms of substance abuse or dependence which would require a higher classification. Individuals classified as Minimal Risk are usually eligible for an informal hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State (with certain exceptions). A minimum of ten  hours of DASA defined DUI Risk Education are required. These ten hours must be divided between at least four sessions with each session consisting of two and one-half hours each.
Individuals classified as Moderate Risk must have no prior conviction or court-ordered supervision for DUI, no prior statutory summary suspension, and no prior reckless driving conviction reduced from DUI. The BAC of this individual must be between .15 and .19, inclusive, or a refusal of chemical testing as a result of the arrest for DUI. Also, the individual must have no other symptoms of substance abuse or dependence which would require a higher classification. A minimum of ten hours of DASA defined DUI Risk Education is required. These ten hours must be divided between at least four sessions with each session consisting of two and one-half hours each. In addition, the individual must complete twelve  hours of early intervention.
Individuals classified as Significant Risk must have no more than one prior conviction or court-ordered supervision for DUI, one prior statutory summary suspension, or one prior reckless driving conviction reduced from DUI. Individuals with only one DUI but who have a BAC of .20 or higher as a result of the most current DUI arrest and/or other sufficient symptoms of substance abuse must be classified at minimum as Significant Risk. Significant Risk individuals must have twenty  hours of alcohol and/or drug treatment in addition to any recommended continuing care services. They must also complete risk education.
High Risk (Dependent or Non-Dependent)
High Risk Dependent
Individuals classified as High Risk Dependent must have symptoms of substance dependence regardless of their driving record and/or those whose last three DUI dispositions resulting from separate incidents occurred within a ten  year period prior to the date of the most current arrest but are not otherwise dependent on alcohol and/or drugs.
High Risk Dependent individuals must successfully complete a minimum of seventy-five  hours of dependency treatment and upon completion of any and all necessary treatment and after discharge, have active ongoing participation in all activities specified in the continuing care plan.
High Risk Non-Dependent
High Risk Non-dependent individuals are those whose last three DUI dispositions resulting from separate incidents (i.e. any combination of DUI convictions or court-ordered supervisions, prior statutory summary suspensions, or prior reckless driving convictions reduced from DUI) occurred within a ten  year period prior to the date of the most current arrest but are not otherwise dependent on alcohol and/or drugs.
High Risk Non-dependent individuals must successfully complete a minimum of seventy-five  hours of substance abuse treatment and upon completion of any and all necessary treatment and after discharge, have active ongoing participation in all activities specified in the continuing care plan.
The Court Never Required I Complete Treatment
The Illinois Secretary of State will require that you show proof of treatment or obtain a waiver of treatment from an evaluator. Risk Education (10 hours) can only be waived in Level III clients and will always be required in Minimal Risk, Moderate Risk and Significant Risk clients. Please know that even in cases where the criminal judge that handled your case waived your treatment, you will still be required to complete treatment prior to your hearing with the Secretary of State or obtain a waiver.
Some clients completed treatment but no longer have the required treatment documentation and the program they went to no longer has copies or has since closed. The question then arises, do I have to go to treatment even though it has been years since my DUI arrest? The answer is that it depends. Under the Secretary of State rules, a person may be eligible to obtain a treatment waiver which will avoid the need to go to treatment. This can typically happen when many years has passed since the underlying offense. In these cases, the client will have typically had to had no alcohol abuse issues and made substantial lifestyle changes.
Proving You are Not a Risk to Public Safety
As we indicated previously, the burden is on you to prove to the State of Illinois that you are not a risk to have your license privileges restored. The State will put great weight not only on the documents that you present, analyzing the information that you have provided, but the State will also weigh heavily your testimony at the hearing. Not knowing what the Secretary of State looks for in the documents and not knowing the questions that will be asked in the hearing, puts you at a significant disadvantage in your petition to get your license back. Having an experienced license reinstatement attorney with you will make the difference.
Will I be Denied For Driving Relief
Reinstatement Hearings are complex and difficult. We stress to our clients that preparation is the key to these hearings. It takes great effort on your part to convey to the State, both in the documents that you present and with your in person testimony that you have accepted the problem you had with alcohol and that you are no longer a risk to the public. The hearing officer will scrutinize your background, driving history and DUI arrest record. Any inconsistencies will result in your denial.
It is important to remember that these hearings are adversarial. The Illinois Secretary of State's rules are complex and difficult to comply with. Failure to comply with the technical rules will result in an automatic denial.
At these hearings your are placed under oath and the hearing is treated like a trial. If your testimony is inconsistent and differs from what you have submitted in your treatment documentation, you will be automatically denied. Moreover, if your testimony does not satisfy the hearing officer that you are not threat to public safety, you will be automatically denied.
Failing to prove that you no longer have an on-going drug or alcohol problem will result in the denial of your petition.
When can I Have My Hearing
If you are eligible for an Informal Hearing, no application is required. Its as simple as walking into the Informal Hearing Officer and sitting for a hearing. Formal Hearings, however, will require an application and a $50 filing fee. Hearings will typically be set 6-8 weeks after the filing of the request, but must be set within 90 days of your application.
When Will I Get the Answer on my Hearing?
The law provides that the Secretary of State must schedule a formal hearing to be held within 90 days of the request for hearing and the decision must also be issued within 90 days of the hearing date. In cases of an informal hearing, you do not need to request a hearing and can simply go to a local Secretary of State facility and have a hearing, without an appointment. There is not time limit for an answer on an informal hearing with the Secretary of State, however a decision will generally be issued within 90 days of the hearing.
As a general rule though, the answer from the State will come in about 6-8 weeks. However, understand that this is just an average and that the State of Illinois has up to 90 days to get you the answer on your formal and informal hearing.
I had my Hearing and am Waiting. I need to Drive Now
Unfortunately, you must wait to receive the answer from the Secretary of State regarding your hearing. There are no other options available to you. Once you receive the approval, it will list several steps you must take before you can start driving.
How Long will it Take to Get My Driving Permit?
Great news. You have now received the paperwork showing you were granted driving relief. You would have received a list or requirements and steps you must take prior to actually driving. You should work to complete these steps as quickly as possible. You will have a maximum of 120 days though to jump through the hoops if you were granted a permit. If granted full reinstatement, you will have 18 months to complete everything.
Once all requirements are met and been processed, it usually takes about three (3) to five (5) weeks to receive the actual permit or approval to get your license. Those granted full reinstatement will have less requirements, typically paying a reinstatement fee and to show proof of SR-22 insurance. Out of State clients will be able to obtain a waiver for the SR-22 requirement.
Do I need SR-22 Insurance?
If your license has been revoked, you will need to obtain SR-22 insurance. The Secretary of State requires that you maintain this insurance for a 36-month period. This requirement can be met at any time. You do not need to wait to be granted privileges to obtain SR-22 insurance. You will receive credit towards the 36-month requirement as soon as you begin carrying SR-22. If you are an out-of-state resident and have been granted reinstatement, you can file a waiver of the SR-22 and avoid this requirement.
Full Reinstatement vs Hardship License (RDP) Restricted Driving Permit
If you are successful at your hearing, as a general rule, Illinois residents will be granted a hardship license or what's known as a restricted driving permit (RDP) and in some cases a probationary permit. If you have not yet passed your eligibility date for reinstatement, you can only be placed on an RDP. These permits can cover work, medical, support groups, education and child care. These permits must be driven on for 75% before application for full reinstatement can be made. Also, these hardship licenses typically require a BAIID device (breath alcohol ignition interlock device). If you have received any combination of 2 or more suspensions or revocations which arise out of separate DUI arrests, you must have a BAIID device installed on your vehicle. There are certain limited exemptions to the BAIID requirement.
Please know that even after driving on a permit, reinstatement is not automatic. You will still be required to have another hearing to petition for full license reinstatement.
Some clients are eligible for a probationary permit. Probationary permits allow you to drive 6 days a week, up to 12 hours per day and within a 200 mile radius. If you are eligible for reinstatement, the Secretary of State my choose to place you on this broader permit in lieu of full reinstatement. These types of permits are not restricted in location, mileage etc. As long as you are driving on one of the 6 days you chose, within the 200 mile radius of your home and within the 12 hour window, you can travel freely. Most client will still require the BAIID device with this type of permit.
Am I required to have a Breath Device BAIID in my Car?
You will be required to have a BAIID installed on your vehicle if any of the following are true:
- You have received any combination of two or more suspensions or revocations which arise out of separate DUI arrests.
- Your revocation is based on Aggravated DUI that resulted in death or serious personal injury.
- You were issued a Monitoring Device Driving Permit and that permit was canceled for any reason, including a cancellation based on a conviction for the underlying DUI.
If you have more than one conviction for DUI, you will need to have a BAIID device installed in every vehicle that is registered in your name and you will be required to drive with a BAIID device for a continuous period of five years.
There are certain limited exemptions to the BAIID requirement which are generally related to persons who drive employer-owned or leased vehicles. The Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device is used to prevent drivers from driving while intoxicated. This device requires that the driver blow into the device before the vehicle can be started. The BAIID also randomly asks for breath samples while the vehicle is in use.
How Long Will I Need to Have the BAIID in My Car?
The amount of time you will need to have the BAIID device installed in your vehicle varies. If you have one DUI conviction and a statutory summary suspension arising out of different arrests, you will be required to have the BAIID device installed in your vehicle for one year. If you have two or more convictions for DUI, you will be required to have the BAIID installed in every vehicle that is registered in your name for a continuous period of five years. If you have four or more convictions for DUI (and any arrest that occurred after January 1, 1999), you will need to have the BAIID device installed in all vehicles under your name for the rest of your life provided that you are an Illinois resident.
I need to drive an Employer Vehicle. Do I need a BAIID?
You can obtain an employment exemption for a vehicle owned or leased by your employer, which will exempt you from the BAIID requirement if the vehicle is not assigned exclusively to you and you do not use the vehicle to commute between home and work or use it for personal purposes. However, if you have been convicted of two or more DUIs within a five-year period, you cannot apply for the employment exemption until either your driving privileges have been revoked for at least one year or you have been on a Restricted Driving Permit with a BAIID device for at least one year.
Can I Put My BAIID in a Friend's Car?
Yes. However, if you have more than one DUI conviction and are therefore subject to the five-year BAIID requirement, you must still have the device installed in any vehicles registered in your name.
Can Someone Else Drive My Car?
Yes, but keep in mind that those people will need to use the BAIID in order to start and operate the car. If a violation was detected while someone else was driving your car, you will be required to submit an explanation to the Secretary of State. If you are claiming that it was someone else who committed the violation, the Secretary of State will have the ability to verify who was using the BAIID by checking the camera that is installed with the device.
I've Already Been Denied, Now What?
Contact our office. Our office has helped people with 1, 2 and even 3 straight denials to start driving again. We will review your denial letter and advise as to the issues that the Secretary of State has and make sure that they are addressed with the evaluator and addressed in your testimony at your next hearing. Preparation is the key.
Where will my In Person Hearing be held?
Our office has been located in Joliet for about 15 years and are familiar with the Joliet Hearing Office. All hearings will be held at the Joliet facility:
54 N. Ottawa Street
Joliet, IL 60436-1080
Your Illinois Driver's License Reinstatement Attorney
Jack L. Zaremba is an experienced Illinois License Reinstatement Lawyer. Jack has handled hundreds and hundreds of license reinstatement hearings and he has the experience to get you back on the road. Jack is a local lawyer to the Joliet area and handles all of the firm's reinstatement hearings in Joliet. If you are an out-of-state resident, our firm is authorized to complete your reinstatement hearing online. You need to drive. Give Jack a call today 815-740-4025