Who makes the decision about whether I lose, or whether I get my license or a permit?

Technically, the Secretary of State makes the decision. The reality is that it depends on whether you go to a formal hearing or an informal hearing. After an informal hearing, the Hearing Officer makes a recommendation that is closely reviewed by Secretary of State staff in Springfield, and may or may not be followed. After a formal hearing, the Hearing Officer makes a recommendation that is rarely overruled.