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Myths About License Reinstatement Hearings

Will I Automatically Get My License Back on My “Reinstatement Eligibility” Date?

No. Unless subject to the five-year permit, the term, “Reinstatement Eligibility,” refers to the first date that a revoked driver is eligible to request full driving privileges at a hearing. Once a person has their Illinois driving privileges revoked by the Secretary of State, they are required to attend a hearing to obtain a driving permit or reinstatement.

For persons with two or three DUI convictions, they will be subject to a five-year BAIID permit, regardless of eligibility, before they are able to request full reinstatement. The five-year rule does not count DUIs that resulted in supervision or a reduced charge.

One notable exception to five-year permit is when a revoked driver resides out-of-state. A revoked driver that resides out-of-state, and is eligible for full reinstatement, may apply to reinstate their license without serving a five-year permit. However, the applicant must show proof of out-of-state residency to proceed with a hearing and they must license themselves in their home state if they are approved for full reinstatement.

If a revoked driver is not eligible for reinstatement, they may be able to request a hardship permit for specific driving needs if no reasonable alternative means are available. Hardship permits can be granted for a variety of reasons, such as work, school, community service, family education, daycare, and attendance at support group meetings

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Can My Treatment Provider Prepare Me for My Hearing?

Secretary of State hearings involve criminal, DUI and administrative law. We do not recommend enlisting your treatment provider to guide you through a legal process, just as lawyers don’t perform treatment for clients.

Hearings involve more than knowing the questions the Secretary of State will want answered during the proceedings. Your attorney guides you on legal decisions and helps verify that your answers are consistent with all other documents in the case.

Finally, the Secretary of State requires an active law license to file an appearance to represent a person at a hearing. As such, a treatment provider cannot question you at a hearing, which allows the State to directly question you throughout the hearing. To ensure you have a proper defense, we recommend enlisting a qualified attorney.

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Does the Secretary of State Automatically Deny Everyone at Their First Hearing?

Over 95 percent of our clients receive driving privileges at their first hearing with our office. This includes first-time hearings, as well as persons who were denied at a prior hearing before retaining our office.

When deciding to grant driving privileges, the Secretary of State looks to whether a Petitioner has met their burden to obtain driving relief. The State doesn’t randomly deny applicants to punish them. In our experience, the State is happy to grant driving relief if an applicant is prepared for the hearing and demonstrates that they would be a safe, alcohol/drug-free driver.

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If I Have a Pending Driving on a Suspended/Revoked Ticket, Can I Attend a Hearing to Clear It Before My Next Court Date?

No. The Secretary of State does not allow a revoked driver to attend a hearing, whether formal or informal, while they have a pending ticket. 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1001.420(g) and 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1001.430(h)

Under applicable law, the State will not grant driving relief while any moving traffic offense is pending against a petitioner in any court. The only exception to this law is where the pending citation or citations are also the only cause of the current loss of driving privileges. 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1001.420(g) and 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1001.430(h)

If a person has a pending Driving on Revoked charge, they cannot attend a hearing until the court closes the case through a finding of guilt or innocence. The Secretary of State also considers the length of time that has elapsed since the arrest for Driving on a Revoked as a factor in their decision making.

It is typically not recommended to attend a hearing unless at least six months have elapsed since a Driving on Revoked arrest. However, if sufficient time has elapsed, a revoked driver can still be in the process of completing their sentence at the time of a hearing since the case is no longer “pending” for Secretary of State purposes.

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If a Court Found Me Guilty of a DUI, Can the Secretary of State Overturn the Guilty Finding?

No. On occasion, prospective clients want to begin the hearing process through disputing their guilt on a DUI charge from their past. It is important for revoked drivers to recognize the difference between courtroom proceedings on their DUI case and Illinois Secretary of State hearings.

The DUI courtroom proceedings were the forum to determine guilt or innocence on a prior DUI charge(s). Once the court has found a person guilty, whether through a plea or trial, the Secretary of State accepts the conviction as guilt on the DUI offense(s).

This concept is codified in the Secretary of State code, where it is explicitly stated:

“In all cases, a conviction in a court of law in Illinois, or any other state, is dispositive of the guilt of a petitioner of the offense that caused his/her revocation.” 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1001.430(a)

Therefore, when a petitioner appears at a hearing for reinstatement, it is presumed that they are guilty of the DUI charges in which they were convicted. If a petitioner believes they were wrongfully convicted, the sole place to remedy the issue is with the court, rather than an Illinois Secretary of State hearing.

In cases where a petitioner was not convicted of a past DUI, the Code authorizes the Secretary of State to consider DUI charges as dispositions if they resulted in a statutory summary suspension, court supervision or where a DUI charge was reduced to Reckless Driving. The State may consider DUI dispositions even if they occurred in another state, as well as DUI dispositions that do not appear on the official driving record. 92 Ill. Adm. Code 1001.410.

As a result, it is important that a petitioner understand at the outset of the hearing process that it is not their goal to contest their guilt on DUI charges in which they received a statutory summary suspension, court supervision, conviction or where a DUI was reduced to Reckless Driving. Instead, a hearing is an opportunity to take responsibility for those arrests and demonstrate lifestyle changes since the most recent DUI arrest.

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