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I have heard about formal and informal hearings – What is the difference?

Generally, if you have one DUI arrest, or your license has been revoked for certain other reasons, you can go to an informal hearing, although you can opt to go to a formal hearing, and there may be strategic reasons for doing so. Usually, if you have more than one arrest for DUI, you have to go to a formal hearing. What matters to the Secretary of State, and what they will ask about, is your arrests. In some circumstances an arrest won’t count against you, but those cases are rare. Expect to answer questions about your arrests, and have those arrests count, even if you received court supervision.

Informal hearings are held on a walk-in basis, and you do not have to pay a fee to have one. They are not recorded, and the hearing officer will ask you questions and write down the answers. There are also differences in how a decision is made (see the answer to the question about who makes the decision).

You request a formal hearing in writing, and pay a $50 fee to request the hearing. The Secretary of State will then send you a letter with the date and time of your hearing. The hearing is usually scheduled about two to two and a half months after you request it. Your lawyer will ask you questions. If you don’t have a lawyer, or your lawyer doesn’t know the questions or doesn’t want to do the questioning, the Secretary of State will almost always have a lawyer representing them, who will ask the questions. The hearing will be recorded.