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How Do I Get My License Back After a DUI in Illinois?

Article written by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
May 7, 2020

We are all familiar with the expression that tells us we don’t know what we have until it’s gone. This is never more true than in the case of your driver’s license, especially when it has been revoked due to a DWI conviction, getting your driving privileges returned, and navigating the waters of the DMV, can seem daunting, to say the least. It is more common than not, for many folks to delay or even ignore this problem, until they are forced to act. The fact is, with the right help and a fair understanding of the process, it can be done painlessly.  

Regaining Your Driving Privileges

There are as many exceptions in law and procedure, as there are rules.  What follows is basic framework, applicable to most folks. As always, if you have more specific questions, or some facts have made your case an uncommon one, consult a qualified attorney, who handles these matters routinely, to help you navigate the finer points. And, most importantly, take the stress off, and carry it for you. 

The first thing you should do, if your license is suspended or revoked, and you want it restored, is get a copy of your driving record, or transcript.  These are available on a walk-in basis at most any  DMV office, for a small fee. The reason for this is that your record is where the DMV starts, and almost stops.  You and your attorney want to know what they think or know about your history, because that will prevail over your recollection, what you may believe did or should have happened.

For example, if you were arrested for a DWI, ultimately acquitted in court, and then later arrested again for the current DWI conviction you got, the DMV will see all of that. Your first arrest will be held against you, despite the acquittal. 

Your attorney will then find and assemble all the paperwork you received during the course of your arrest(s), conviction, disposition, treatment, or recommendations; Any piece of paper you have regarding your case could be important, or at least useful. The DMV will know what is in the police report, and so should you. If you had an attorney for your DWI, contact that firm and request a copy of your file, if you don’t have one already. 

Restricted Driving Permits

Third, AA, treatment, and family or friends; To get your privilege to drive restored, or allowed on a restricted basis (RDP: Restricted Driving Permit), there is going to be a hearing, held in a DMV office, by a representative of the state and a DMV official, or judge. At that hearing, your attorney and the hearing officers are going to need a few things:

  1. An updated substance abuse evaluation, conducted by a licensed agency;
  2. Three letters confirming your abstinence, or other demonstrated sober behavior, from three of your family members or friends, closely associated with you; 
  3. Three letters confirming your ongoing treatment or support assistance, typically from AA members that you may see regularly. 

DMV Fees

Once you have the required documents, your attorney will submit a request to the DMV for a hearing. There is a $50 fee for this application to the DMV, and they are VERY stringent about the granting of continuances once a hearing date has been set, so don’t apply until you are ready.

Once you apply, it usually takes a few weeks to get a hearing date, which will be set to occur two to three months after you get notified. They will typically not grant you a continuance, or new hearing date for things like missing required documents, an inability to take off work, or for generic “personal reasons.” But fear not. Worst case scenario, you lose your hearing date, re-apply, and pay the $50 fee again.

License Reinstatement Hearings

Before the actual, formal hearing, the DMV has a resource available (the best thing the DMV has ever done), called an informal hearing.  Consider this a pre-hearing conference. Many, but not all, DMV offices, have a representative standing by, called an Informal Hearing Officer, who will sit down with you, go over your documents with you, and tell you what is missing or still needs to be done, before your hearing should take place. These officers are typically available on a walk-in basis, but definitely call your local DMV ahead of time, before just showing-up.

License reinstatement hearings will occur in a small room, at a DMV office, where evidence will be presented by you, and the state, before a formal hearing officer. This is a perfunctory trial setting. Documents sent to you by the DMV, before your hearing, will give you a pretty good idea what to expect to be asked about. Mostly, the process is a review of your history, your behavior leading up to, and including your arrest and conviction, and what you have done since. You will have an opportunity to speak and be heard, as will your attorney, if you have one. 

After that, you wait. You will get the DMV’s decision within ninety days, but often sooner. With the decision, will come a list of things you must do, based on your case, before you can begin driving. Things like getting an SR22 (insurance binder for yourself), and probably a BAIID (Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device) installed on your car. 

This may seem like a lot. But with an experienced attorney, it becomes more than manageable.

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How Do I Get My License Back After a DUI in Illinois?

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