If your Illinois driver's license has been revoked, you will need to attend a Secretary of State hearing to get your license reinstated or a restricted driving permit. It is extremely important to have an experienced attorney representing you during this process. Unfortunately, many people receive false information about the hearings, the role of an attorney and their chances for success. There are myths that can cause people to make poor decisions, and ultimately they pay the price when their claim for driving privileges is denied. Below, I highlight some of the most common misconceptions about the process and explain the realities of the Secretary of State hearings.
Common Myths About the Secretary of State Hearings in Illinois
- 1. "It's a waste of time and money to hire a lawyer for a Secretary of State hearing."
You may have heard this from well-meaning friends, or even your treatment provider.
The truth about hiring an attorney to help with your Secretary of State hearing: Competent legal representation gives you the best chance of achieving your goal of getting a permit or your license quickly, in turn, having you "get back on the road." Many people find the Secretary of State process confusing and intimidating. Even many attorneys find the process confusing, which is why most of my telephone calls are from people referred to me by other attorneys.
- 2. "Everybody gets denied at their first hearing."
With a few exceptions, with competent representation your chances of getting either a permit or your license at a first hearing are excellent. However, there are some things that will cause trouble:
- A recent arrest for driving while revoked,
- Having a large number of DUI arrests.
- Being a "recidivist" (which means your license was revoked before, you went through the Secretary of State process and got a permit or your license back, then got revoked again for another DUI).
The truth about your first hearing: There is no reason why most people going through this process should lose their first hearing, but even if you have recent driving while revoked arrests or you are a recidivist, the sooner you get started on the hearing process, the sooner you can get back on the road.
- 3. "A lawyer can't even go into the hearing with you."
In a formal hearing:
- Your lawyer can ask you the questions instead of the Secretary of State's lawyer.
- Although the Secretary of State's lawyer and Hearing Officer can ask follow-up questions, these will be minimal if your lawyer has been thorough.
In an informal hearing:
•· The Hearing Officer will ask the questions and write down your responses, but your lawyer should talk to you beforehand and make sure you understand all the questions you will be asked during the hearing.
The truth about hiring an attorney to assist you at your hearing: Before your formal or informal hearing, your lawyer should make sure you understand all the questions you will be asked. Your lawyer will be in the hearing with you, but your lawyer cannot testify for you. Only you can answer questions about your DUI arrests, drinking history, etc.
- 4. "I don't need a lawyer at an informal hearing."
The truth about hiring a lawyer for your first informal hearing: If you want to get your license back (instead of a permit), and want to do it quickly, you should do everything you can to make sure you succeed at your first informal hearing. This includes hiring a lawyer. This is because, if you are eligible to get your license back, your chances of getting your full driver's license are best at your first informal hearing. If you are denied relief at an informal hearing, it is very likely that the Secretary of State will only want to give you a restricted driving permit at your second or third hearing.
- 5. "You have to say you're an alcoholic, otherwise the Secretary of State won't give you a permit or license."
The truth about this very common myth: This is only true if you are an alcoholic.
- 6. "If you drink at all, you can't get a permit or your license."
The truth about "current drinking": If you are an alcoholic/chemically dependent, you must not drink. Otherwise, you can get a permit or license if you drink, as long as you do so responsibly.
- 7. "If I tell them how bad my drinking really was, or what really happened when I got arrested, I'll never get my license back."
The truth about telling the whole, embarrassing truth: A very common reason for getting your request for a permit or license denied is "minimization." That means that the Hearing Officer believes that you have under-reported your drinking or symptoms, either to your evaluator or during your hearing. No matter how bad your story is, they have heard worse. The Hearing Officers know that, if you got three DUIs, it is really unlikely that you were the kind of person who normally drank three beers on a Saturday night.
Illinois Revoked Driver's License Attorney
I represent clients who need to get their Illinois driver's license back, a restricted driving permit or clearance from Illinois to get their driver's license in another state. I represent clients at formal and informal hearings in southern Illinois, where I was a Secretary of State Hearing Officer. Contact me at 800-584-0812 for a free consultation. If meeting me at my office is inconvenient, I will meet you at a location that is easier for you to get to. I offer flexible payment plans, and accept all major credit cards.
I help clients "get back on the road!"