Myths About Secretary Of State Hearings
If your Illinois driver’s license has been revoked, you will need to attend a Secretary of State hearing to get your license reinstated or a restricted driving permit.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 clear up some of the most common misconceptions about the process.
Common Myths About 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. However, competent legal representation at a hearing gives you the best chance of getting a permit or your driver’s license quickly. 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 competent legal 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 license 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- Being a “recidivist” (which means your license was revoked before, you went through the Secretary of State process and got a permit or your license back, then got revoked again for another DUI).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 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.
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 he or she cannot testify on your behalf. Only you can answer questions about your DUI arrest, drinking history, etc.
4. “I don’t need a lawyer at an 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. 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.” This is only true if you are an alcoholic.
6. “If you drink at all, you can’t get a permit or your license.” 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.” A common reason for having a request for a permit or license denied is “minimization.” That means the hearing officer believes you have under-reported your drinking or symptoms, either to your evaluator or during your hearing. The hearing officers know that, if you have been arrested three times for drunk driving, it is unlikely that you are the kind of person who drinks only a couple beers on a Saturday night.
Meet With An Experienced 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 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!