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What happens to my license if it is suspended or revoked?

After being charged with a DUI, there is some uncertainty about what your driving capabilities will be. Depending on the level of the offense, your license may be suspended or revoked.

If you’ve never been arrested for a DUI before, the difference between a license suspension or revocation may be completely foreign to you. It’s important to understand how both work and when they can affect you.


A suspension is a loss of driving privileges for a set amount of time, and when it ends you pay a fee and get the license back. Typical lengths for a suspension are three months, six months, one year or three years.

An officer will immediately suspend your license if they test your blood alcohol content (BAC) level and it is 0.08 percent or more, or if you refuse testing. Typically you are given a receipt that allows you to continue driving for 45 days while you fight the arrest and suspension, and the suspension goes into effect after those 45 days are over if your attempts are unsuccessful.


A revocation also takes away your driving privileges for a set amount of time, but they typically last one, five or 10 years. If you are charged with a DUI, the state attorney will send information to the Illinois Secretary of State, who will determine whether or not to revoke your license.

Unlike with a suspension, your license is not automatically returned to you once that time is over. With a revocation, you must appear at a hearing before the Secretary of State to prove you can be a safe and responsible driver. The reinstatement fee after a revocation is $500.

When is having an attorney useful?


A criminal defense attorney can help fight against a license suspension and keep it from going into effect, but it is more likely to be successful if the suspension is for less than three years. In the case of a license revocation of any length, having an attorney at your side can be an important resource, particularly during the reinstatement hearing. 




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