What Is The Purpose Of The Secretary Of State DMV Hearing?
First, in the state of Illinois, when granted a valid driving permit, or driving privileges of a driver’s license, it is a privilege, not a right. If we look at Illinois law, there is about twenty plus reasons why your license can be suspended, or revoked. The difference between a suspended license and a revoked license is that a suspended license is a specific definite period. During that period, you are not allowed to drive, but at the conclusion of a three, or six, or one-year suspension, you automatically get your license back. You must pay a reinstatement fee. This is in contrast to a revoked license. A revoked license means that your license has been taken away permanently.
You will no longer have the ability to legally drive in the state of Illinois, except with one exception, and that one exception is if you do a hearing in front of the Illinois Secretary of State, or the DMV board. You can try to get back some sort of driving privileges, whether it be a permit for work, education, or medical reasons. When dealing with the secretary of state hearings, you are dealing with people whose licenses have been revoked in the state of Illinois. There are several ways your license can be revoked. The two major reasons why your license would be revoked is multiple DUIs, or reckless homicide, which is usually a DUI followed by a fatality.
The majority of those two major reasons why a hearing is needed, is because of multiple DUIs, not the type that involve reckless homicides, I have handled quite a few of those as well. Those are the two major reasons why you need to appear in front of the secretary of state hearing board. Let us talk about how we go about scheduling a hearing. When your license is revoked, it has been taken away forever. The only way you can get it back is by doing one of these hearings. The question would be how you go about scheduling a hearing. I would send out a written request for a hearing along with a $50 fee, it is sent to the 17 North State Street Location in Downtown, Chicago. To give you an idea of the timeframe, if I send down the paperwork asking for a hearing, it would be roughly two months before they schedule the hearing for my client.
The secretary of state would send my client, who is called the petitioner, and my office a letter. This will tell us when our hearing date is scheduled roughly two months from the date that I sent the original request for the hearing. After the hearings, then it takes roughly two to three months to get the written response back by mail. So, even when clients come into my office and say, “Hey, my license has been taken away, because of DUIs, I’d like to get this fixed as quickly as possible”, I tell them you are roughly looking at a four to five months’ timeframe.
There is no other game in town, no other options. When I send the paperwork, I am asking for a hearing. Essentially, I am asking the secretary of state for some driving privileges, or driving relief. Now, most people fall in the category where they are eligible for one of two different types of driving privileges. They would be eligible for what is called a restricted driving permit, (RDP), which is good for six days a week, twelve hours per day. It is only used for work, education, medical reasons, or eligible for license for reinstatement of their original driving privileges.
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The secretary of state on most cases will grant some privileges. They are going to give you the more limited license to restrict driving. You need to prove to them that you are not going to drive drunk, and you are not going to drive when you are not supposed to. Once again, it is for work, education, or medical reasons, and then usually after that one year restricted driving permit expires, you then attend another hearing. You are going to get your full license back, because you passed their probationary period, but that is a general rule. There are exceptions to the rule. Many times, people get back their full licenses right off the bat, but when we do a hearing, we are saying, “Hey, give us two bites of the apple. If you’re not going to give us the full license, at least give us the restricted driving permit, so I can get my guy back on the road in some sort of limited capacity”.
I need to prepare my clients for the state hearing. The best way I can describe one of these hearings is almost like a two-headed monster. There are two distinct parts of a state’s hearing. The first part is that there are certain documents, which the law requires you to bring. If you do not have those documents, they will not let you proceed with the hearing. The second part of the case is that you to have to testify in front of the secretary of state board, as to all the reasons why they should believe that you have changed, in terms of your relationship with drinking versus the person who last picked up several DUIs.
Let us talk about documents. There are various documents, which are going to be needed to do this hearing, such as an evaluation, which is no older than six months. This drug and alcohol evaluation talks about where you are currently concerning your drug or alcohol addictions. Your evaluator will need to say that after receiving treatment, he or she feels that you are in a good position to not re-offend, or abuse alcohol. This would minimize the risk to the people of the state of Illinois if you were given some sort of a license. We are going to need a copy of the original evaluation.
It would have been the evaluation completed prior to any type of treatment. This talks about where you were in terms of your relationship with drugs and or alcohol. Because of that, the original evaluation determines how much treatment you should have received. In Illinois, there are four different levels of treatment, a ten-hour, twenty-hour, thirty-hour, or a seventy-five-hour program. This is considered a high-risk program, and that is for chemically dependent people. You could be chemically dependent if you are a drinker, which is classified as an alcoholic. If you were a drug user, essentially they would be calling you an addict, although they do not use that word much anymore.
Not only do we need the two evaluations, but also we need to show you completed the appropriate treatment recommended from the old evaluation. There is multitude of different treatment documents, which would verify that you completed the recommended treatment from the original evaluation. Then some additional documents needed depending on what classification you are labeled. The higher classification you are, which would be the thirty or seventy-five-hour program, and that is called a level II significant risk program, or level III, which is the high-risk program. Your additional documents are needed above the three documents I have discussed previously.
If you were a level three alcoholic, we need to provide proof you were involved in some sort of support program, and that can be a traditional support program, known as AA. It could be what they call non-traditional support programs, which friends, and family help you remain sober, or abstinent from any type of drugs, or alcohol abuse. We need three letters showing that you are either involved in AA, and if you are going to AA, one of the three letters have to be from your sponsor. If you are doing non-traditional, you need three letters from friends, and family. You are required to give an additional letter showing how this non-traditional support program helps you remain sober. We are then going to need a high risk, or level III individual an additional three letters showing you have a period of sobriety in excess of one year. I know this would have to be from three different people, than the three people who filled out your paperwork for support.
Under some circumstances, if you are only going for a permit, a restrict driving permit, not a full license, the secretary of state can issue a waiver which you only have to be sober for six months, but that is only if you are going for a permit. If you are going for your full license back, you have to have one year of documented sobriety, or abstinent from drugs or alcohol. The last thing needed is a letter of employment, or a letter showing you are going to school, or documentation showing that you are having medical issues, because in a hearing, we are asking for the return of your full license, with some sort of permit, a work, education, or medical permit. We need documentation to backup. If you are requesting that type of permit, you need to show a letter from work; if you are looking for an employment RDP, restricted driving permit, you need a letter from school, the medical facility, or from a doctor, if you are going for an education, or medical permit.
Those are the documents, which are required to do this hearing. The other part of the case is testimony, and you are going to have to testify in front of a secretary of state hearing board. As a result, you are going to be in my office a number of times before we do the l hearing. I have questions and answers that we will go over, which are going to demonstrate to the secretary of state, that you have made “Significant Lifestyle Changes”. This would minimize the possibility of you re-offending. That is essentially taking right out of the secretary of state administrative code that is the law of the secretary of state when dealing with these hearings that is what we need to show. Ultimately, we need to show you have made strides in your life, which would minimize the possibility of you re-offending again. I am a different person today than last year.
I will have questions and answers to go over with you, and we are going to talk about various parts of your life, whether it is personal background information, details of each of your DUI arrests, talk about the treatment that you received, and talk about your drinking or drug use patterns. We will talk about your employment, medical issues, and schooling, and then ultimately, we are going to talk about what has changed for you today versus the person who last offended. There have to be significant changes. It could be something like “Back then I drank, of course I don’t drink now”, “Back then I hung out with certain friends, I don’t see them now”, “Back then I didn’t have the benefit of treatment, now I have the benefit of treatment”, “Back then I wasn’t involved in any support program, now I am”.
We are going to go over this in a very detailed manner, so at the hearing in Chicago, you have your oral testimony down pat. The way I prepare is the same way I am going to conduct the hearing, because ultimately when we go to the hearing, I will present the evidence in front of the board. I am the one who runs the show the same way that I prepared you in my office. When I say, “Run the show”, that is, I am the one who asks you questions, so there will not be any shocking questions. After that, then the prosecuting attorney will have his turn to ask you questions.
After the prosecuting attorney is done, the hearing officer, we call them judges, but they call them hearing officers, will also ask you questions. Ultimately, what they are trying to find out is number one, were you truthful, credible, and whether you really made significant strides in your life. This would put them at ease if they make any recommendations. What happens is that after we are done with the hearing, and submitting all the documents and the testimony is taken, the case will be over.
The secretary of state hearing officer will then put together his or her recommendations along with your testimony. Everything you testify to is on tape, along with the documents, or treatment documents that we submitted at the hearing. All of that stuff is going to be sent to Springfield, Illinois. Then somebody will look at all of this, and make a decision of whether or not to go along with the hearing officer’s recommendations, which means issue a permit, or do not give out a permit. Maybe issue a full license, or for that matter, just reject an outright, no driving privileges demand. The office in Springfield ultimately makes the decisions, and then three months after the hearing, we will receive the results, by mail.
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