Driving is privilege, and not an absolute right.  And because driving is a privilege, the ability to have a valid driver’s license in Illinois can be taken away by the Illinois Secretary of State for a number of reasons, often times through a statutory summary suspension or an administrative license revocation.

Drivers who are convicted of, or sometimes simply charged with, Driving Under the Influence in Illinois have two distinct issues to resolve:  first, the criminal DUI matter in front of the court (judicial) system; and second, the possible suspension or revocation of their driving privileges by the Illinois Secretary of State through an administrative process.  Although a statutory summary suspension or administrative license revocation of one’s driving privileges depends partly on the outcome of the criminal DUI matter, the judicial and administrative matters are also very much independent of each other. 


A statutory summary suspension will automatically suspend one’s driving privileges after being arrested for Driving Under the Influence who: 1.) fails, 2.) refuses to submit to, or 3.) fails to complete chemical testing.  Under state law, a driver will fail chemical testing if they have a BAC of .08 or higher.  Once a driver fails, refuses to submit to, or does not complete chemical testing at the time of arrest they will receive a notice of a statutory summary suspension that will automatically suspend their driving privileges on the 46th day from which they received the notice.

Suspensions, by their nature, are temporary and a driver can have their license reinstated without a formal hearing once the suspension period is over.  A driver can also appear in front of an informal hearing officer at a Secretary of State office to request a permit for limited driving privileges during the suspension period.  Such hearings are held on a walk-in basis without an attorney present at Secretary of State Formal hearing offices and select Department of Motor Vehicle locations.


The Illinois Secretary of State will revoke one’s driving privileges based upon convictions for Driving Under the Influence.  The duration of the revocation will vary based upon prior convictions and the time frame in which those convictions were received. 

Once a driver’s license revocation is in effect, the Secretary of State will provide notice of a projected eligibility date.  That date is usually the date for which the driver will then be able to request full driving privileges be reinstated.  However, unlike a suspension, a revocation will require a the driver be present for a formal hearing in front of the Secretary of State’s Department of Administrative Hearings before privileges will be reinstated, regardless of the date of projected eligibility.

Having an attorney present for a formal hearing is not required, but due to the complexity of the issues which must be addressed, it is highly recommended that someone seeking reinstatement of their driving privileges after a revocation is represented by counsel.  Most importantly, it is crucial that anyone seeking reinstatement after a revocation be made aware of all the Secretary of State’s requirements, and having an attorney who can navigate those requirements will greatly affect the chances of regaining one’s driving privileges much sooner than later.

The Revocation Process and Restricted Driving Permits

If you have received notice of a revocation, regardless of the duration of the revocation, you will not be eligible for full reinstatement of your driving privileges until after your eligibility date.  However, during that time, not all hope is lost.  You can also request restricted driving relief based upon a hardship during that time and you may be able to receive a restricted driving permit (RDP).  An RDP functions to provide a revoked driver the ability to drive to and from a distinct destination for a very distinct reason.

Whether you are requesting a formal hearing for a hardship license or to gain full driving privileges, you will first need to submit a written application to the Secretary of State for a hearing and pay a $50 fee.

You will also need to have a recent drug or alcohol evaluation before you can proceed to a formal hearing.  Is it very important that you report facts truthfully and accurately to your evaluator.  And having the assistance of a skilled attorney with you from this step forward is invaluable.

Receiving a hearing date can take anywhere from one to two months from the time you submit a written request for a formal hearing.  And it is during this time that you must prepare for a very specific line of questioning from the Secretary of State’s hearing officer and hearing attorney during the formal hearing. 

We are here to help guide you through the entire process

Preparation for a formal hearing is absolutely essential.  All too often, drivers with revoked licenses attempt to approach a formal hearing without the assistance of an attorney and they are completely overwhelmed by the questions asked of them. 

Do not leave an appearance before the Secretary of State to chance.  As it stands, the time it takes to request and receive a hearing can be up to two months, and the time the Secretary of State takes to decide a hearing can take up to 3 months.  When your ability to drive has been revoked, the last thing you need to do is get denied the driving relief you are seeking after 4 or 5 total months of work on a single hearing date.

Truly, as the old saying goes, the best offense is a good defense.  The reinstatement process can be daunting and intimidating, but don’t let it be that way.  Let the attorneys at Nemeth & Oedzes, LLC, guide you through the process from start to finish.