The Law Offices of William Margolin

How Suspensions and Revocations Differ?


Suspensions: The Secretary of State will suspend your license following a DUI arrest if you refused to take a chemical test, or registered .08 or higher after taking the test. The suspension that results from a failure or a refusal is known as a Statutory Summary Suspension (SSS).

The SSS will be in effect for 6, 12 or 36 months as discussed in the next topic (“Length of Chemical Test Suspension”). Provided that there are no other holds on your license, at the end of the suspension time, you are free to drive upon satisfying some minor requirements for the Secretary of State and upon payment of the reinstatement fee.

Revocations: For a first DUI conviction, the revocation period runs for a minimum of one year. If there is a second DUI conviction within 20 years of the first conviction, the second revocation will be for a minimum of 5 years. For a third conviction, the revocation is for a minimum of 10 years. If you have four or more DUI convictions, any one of which resulted from an arrest that was made after January 1, 1999, you can never drive again, even for work. Nor will Illinois clear you to obtain a license in another state. Out-of-state convictions are included in determining whether there is a lifetime ban.

The length of the revocation represents the minimum period of time you will be revoked. The end of the 1, 5 or 10 years means nothing more than that you are entitled to request reinstatement of your driver’s license if there is no SSS still in effect.

You should not interpret this right to request reinstatement as meaning you will automatically receive a permit or be reinstated. You must first undergo the hearing process with the Secretary of State that is described earlier in this article.

Therefore, do not act under the mistaken impression that if you are convicted of DUI, you will be revoked for a year and then automatically be able to obtain a license or permit from the Secretary of State. A permit, let alone driver’s license reinstatement after a DUI revocation, is anything but automatic.

Sometimes there is a confusing interplay between an SSS and a DUI revocation. You may be revoked for 12 months. At the same time, you may be suspended for 3 years. The Secretary of State cannot and will not give you a hearing to request a license or RDP until the 3-year suspension has ended.

Only once the suspension ends may you have a hearing with the Secretary of State. At that point, you are entitled to request reinstatement of your driving privileges or an RDP.

If the revocation is for 5 or 10 years and you are suspended for 3 years, you may request a permit from the Secretary of State at the end of the 3 years. However, you cannot request reinstatement while the revocation is still in effect. While the revocation is still in effect, in order to receive an RDP, you must prove “undue hardship”, discussed later in this article.

Length of Chemical Test Suspension: If you refused or failed the breath test offered to you at the jail or police station (the “chemical test”), your license will be suspended. The length of the suspension depends upon whether you took or refused the test and whether you are a “first offender”.

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First Offender: For purposes of determining the length of the suspension for the most recent DUI arrest, if you have not been arrested for DUI in the previous 5 years, you are considered a first offender, even if there are other DUIs that are older than 5 years. A first offender who takes and fails the chemical test will be suspended for 6 months. A first offender who refuses to take the chemical test will be suspended for 12 months.

Non-First Offender: If you had a DUI arrest within the previous 5 years, and if for the most recent DUI you failed the chemical test, your license will be suspended for 12 months. During that 12 months, you cannot drive for any reason whatsoever, even for work.

If you had a DUI arrest within the previous 5 years, and if for the most recent DUI you refused the chemical test, your license will be suspended for 3 years. During that 3 years, you cannot drive for any reason whatsoever, even for work.

In determining whether or not you are a first offender, a previous DUI arrest within the previous 5 years that resulted in dismissal of the DUI but entry of a breath test suspension on your record prevents you from being a first offender if you refused the test for the previous DUI. Only if you took the test for the previous DUI following a trial and were found not guilty of the previous DUI would you qualify as a first offender.

Why You Do Not Want to be Caught Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

If your license is suspended or revoked due to a previous DUI, and if you are caught driving, you have a number of problems with which to deal. In the first place, it is difficult to defend such a charge. All the State’s Attorney need prove is that the police officer observed you driving and at that time you were driving, you were suspended or revoked.

Upon being convicted for driving on a suspended or revoked license due to a previous DUI, you are in theory eligible for court supervision once every 10 years. However, most judges are extremely reluctant to grant court supervision for this offense.

You can expect to serve 10 days in jail, with no good time credit, upon being convicted. Sentencing alternatives such as work release or weekends are not available during these 10 days. It is all straight time.

A possible option is 240 hours of community service. The problem with this sentence is that it requires such a time commitment. In any event, many judges are opposed to community service of that length because the majority of individuals do not complete the community service within the time allowed.

In addition to jail, you will face a new suspension or revocation equal in length to the original suspension or revocation. For example, if you were originally suspended for a year, the driving while suspended conviction will result in a suspension for an additional year.

You do not have to be breaking the law in order to be caught driving on a suspended or revoked license. If you are hit from behind in an automobile accident, the police will be called to the scene and you will be arrested for driving while suspended or revoked.

If the police stop you because your license plate light is burned out, you will be ticketed for driving while suspended or revoked and be hauled off to jail. If you happen to encounter a police roadblock, you will be ticketed and jailed. If an officer recognizes you as being revoked, you will be ticketed and arrested.

With modern day communications and computers, it is easy for the police, when they have nothing else to do, to run your license plates. As you can see, in none of these scenarios have you engaged in any bad driving, but you would still find yourself in trouble.

The payoff for being legal is easy to see. The penalties for being caught are too severe for you to risk driving illegally.

Also keep in mind that even if you are only suspended, you are not legally entitled to drive until you pay the reinstatement fee to the Secretary of State. If you are caught driving before you have paid the reinstatement fee, even if your suspension has ended, you will be driving illegally and probably will be ticketed for driving on a suspended license.

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