DUIs, License Suspension and Revocation: Knowing When It Makes Sense To Fight

Getting a traffic ticket can ruin an otherwise fine day, but when a single offense or a series of offenses could lead to suspension or revocation of your driver's license, it's more than a day that will be tossed into tumult. Understanding the difference between license suspension and revocation is important.

Simply stated, suspension of a license is the temporary withdrawal of your driving privileges for a specified period of time. Suspended licenses typically are automatically reinstated at the end of the suspension period assuming all fines and reinstatement fees have been paid. If your license is revoked, however, your driving privileges have been terminated and there is no guarantee they will be reinstated, and they will never be reinstated without you taking further action.

When A Lawyer Can Help With a Suspension

Clearly, revocation is a more serious matter that results from more serious offenses, although both the suspension and revocation of a driver's license can turn your life upside down.

If you face suspension or revocation of your driver's license, it is a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable Illinois criminal defense attorney who understands the rules of the Secretary of State's office, and who can help you determine if requesting relief makes sense.

Suspensions last anywhere between three months and three years. Given the time and cost involved in petitioning the Secretary of State for a restricted driving permit (RDP) or modification of the suspension, it often makes more sense, when your license is suspended for six months or less, to let the suspension run its course. Getting relief from longer revocations may well be worth the effort.

Special rules apply to first-time DUI offenders (essentially no DUIs in the last five years) who are suspended for failing or refusing a breathalyzer or other chemical test. They ca n get a permit to drive whenever and wherever they want, as long as they are driving a car equipped with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID).

DUI and License Revocation

A conviction of drunk driving in Illinois triggers a mandatory one-year driver's license revocation. First-time DUI offenders most often are able to avoid having their license revoked because they reach agreement for court supervision, which avoids putting a conviction on your record. By law, you are only allowed to receive court supervision for DUI once in your lifetime. If you have already received court supervision for DUI, an experienced DUI attorney can be helpful in helping you get an agreement with the prosecutor to plead guilty to a lesser charge or taking the case to trial.

A second conviction for DUI leads to a five-year revocation A third conviction results in a 10-year revocation. People with two or three convictions for DUI will also will have to drive on an RDP with a BAIID on their car for five years before being reinstated, no matter how long they wait to go through the reinstatement process. Four or more convictions, if any of them came out of an arrest after January 1, 1999, results in a lifetime revocation, although you may be able to obtain an RDP for limited purposes and drive with a BAIID. This is a big reason why it is important to keep DUI convictions off your record.

Because the process of getting an RDP or reinstating a revoked license is complex, it is wise to enlist the services of an experienced attorney who understands the steps involved. Again, license revocations never go away on their own. There must be a hearing process in order to get a revoked license back.

About "Hardship"

Often, people contact a lawyer asking for a "hardship license" to get them by until they get something else. This is based on a misunderstanding of the process - there is no fast track process for getting driving relief. Hardship is something some people have to prove, along with everything else necessary to get an RDP. In other words, you cannot receive an RDP just because you have a hardship. Proving hardship is actually an added burden that applies to people who are trying to get an RDP before they are eligible to get their full driver's license back.

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