Your Driver’s License After a DUI

Having one or two drinks with friends may seem harmless, but if you decide to drive and are pulled over by police, you could be facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges that carry serious penalties in Illinois. One such penalty includes the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.

Anyone facing a DUI is concerned about their driver’s license. Being able to drive means being able to gain an education and support your family. The loss of your right to drive is a direct loss of freedom, which for many people seems unbearable.

If you have been arrested for a DUI and are wondering what could happen to your license in the coming days or months, contact a Chicago DUI defense lawyer with O’Meara Law. These experienced attorneys can explain your rights, options, and how to best defend against losing your license.

When Might Your License Be Suspended?

There are two kinds of license suspensions that you may face if you drive under the influence. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is .08 percent or higher upon chemical testing or you show impairment while driving, you may face criminal charges that result in license suspension. If you fail or refuse a breathalyzer test, regardless of the status of criminal charges, you may face a civil statutory summary suspension of your license.

What Is a Statutory Summary Suspension?

A statutory summary suspension is an administrative process that results in civil consequences of license suspension if you fail or refuse a breathalyzer test. If you failed a BAC test, you will automatically have your license suspended under the Illinois statutory summary suspension law. You can also have your license suspended if you didn’t submit to a breath test. While the U.S. Supreme Court has stated you don’t have to take a blood test without a valid warrant, you do still have to take a breath test under the state’s implied consent laws.

Whether you refused to take the breath test or blew over the legal limit, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended on the 46th day following the notice of suspension, which may be the day of your arrest. You can drive until day 45, but then you are not allowed behind the wheel until the suspension is lifted or completed.

Depending on whether this is your first or subsequent offense, the length of suspension may vary.

  • First Offense Failure of Test – License suspension for 6 months
  • First Offense Refusal of Test – License suspension for 1 year
  • Second or Subsequent Failure of Test – License suspension for 1 year
  • Second or Subsequent Refusal of Test – License suspension for 3 years

An automatic license suspension is not the same as a criminal punishment. The suspension of your license can begin before you step foot in court to fight your DUI. You and your attorney must handle the summary suspension separately from your DUI charges. You may fight to have the suspension removed entirely or to be granted a Monitoring Device Driving Permit in order to continue driving with an ignition interlock device.

What Happens to Your License After an Illinois DUI Conviction?

If you plead guilty to your DUI charges or are found guilty in a court, you will also face criminal penalties. These penalties will vary depending on the actual charge, whether there were aggravating factors, and any prior DUIs. Your sentence could include time behind bars, a fine, community service, enrollment in a program, and other possible penalties.

Penalties for a DUI conviction often include the loss of driving privileges for a period of time.

  • First Offense – License suspension for a minimum of 1 year
  • Second Offense – License suspension for a minimum of 5 years
  • Third Offense – License suspension for a minimum of 10 years
  • Fourth and Subsequent Offenses – Up to permanent license suspension
  • Offense by Someone Under Age 21 – License suspension for 2 years

Possible Driving Permits

If you are a first-time offender, you have the chance to continue to drive instead of having all of your driving privileges suspended. You and your attorney can seek a Monitoring Device Driving Permit from the Illinois Secretary of State. If it’s granted, you will have to pay to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device installed in your car. This device allows you to drive while periodically checking your breath for alcohol.

You can also seek a Restricted Driving Permit through the Secretary of State. You and your attorney will need to prove that not being able to drive is a burden and creates a hardship, such as not being able to get to work despite needing to support a family or not being able to attend school. The Secretary of State will look at your record and a current alcohol and drug evaluation to determine if you would be a danger to public safety. Under a Restricted Driving Permit you will be allowed to drive to certain places only.

Getting Your License Back: Reinstatement

Once you have completed your statutory summary suspension or your criminal penalty license suspension, you can seek to have your driver’s license reinstated by the Secretary of State. To have your license reinstated after an automatic suspension you must pay a fee. To reinstate your license after a criminal DUI conviction, there are numerous hoops you have to jump through.

After a DUI-related suspension, you have to:

  • Go through an alcohol and drug evaluation
  • Complete an alcohol and drug education program
  • Show proof of alcohol and drug abuse treatment, if necessary
  • Show proof of financial responsibility for driving
  • Attend a hearing to speak with a hearing officer at a driver services facility
  • Demonstrate that you are not a threat to public safety at the hearing
  • Pass all portions of the driver’s license exam
  • Pay a reinstatement fee
  • Pay an application fee

This may sound like a lot to get your license back, but your attorney will help you gather all of the information you need, fill out any necessary paperwork, and lead you through the process. It may take some time, but your lawyer will help you get your license back as quickly and painlessly as possible.

How Can a Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer Help?

Despite what seems like an automatic process, the statutory summary suspension can be challenged. If you were charged with a DUI and received notification of your driver’s license suspension, you may request a hearing. At this hearing, your lawyer can make the relevant legal arguments that may allow you to avoid the suspension.

There are many ways to fight against the suspension of your license, which can punish you before you even head to court regarding your DUI charge. There are also ways to get you back on the road even after a DUI conviction. Don’t lose hope. There are ways to ensure you are able to support yourself and your family during this time.

If you are facing a license suspension because of a DUI and you don’t know what to do, call a Chicago DUI defense attorney at O’Meara Law right away at 312-909-0706.