How to Get Your License Back After a DUI

Updated on 09/09/2021 / Under

In Illinois, it's illegal for any person 21 years or older to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%. Driving while under the influence of alcohol can cause loss of driving privileges, auto insurance rates increase, and even jail time. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 20 people die every day because of car accidents-related caused by alcohol intoxication—which is nearly one person every 51 minutes. The NHTSA reported that 10,511 motorists were killed in alcohol-related accidents in the U.S., in 2018.  

The consequences of drunk driving charges vary based on age, state, and blood alcohol concentration. If a driver’s BAC is over the legal limit, they risk having their driver’s license suspended. Having limited driving privileges means you can't drive your vehicle to work, school, or even medical appointments.

If you're facing drunk driving charges in Illinois, the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Naperville DUI Lawyer can help you get your driver's license back after a DUI. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact experienced license reinstatement attorneys today at (630) 425-0250.

How Do I Get My Driver's License Reinstated After Suspension in Illinois?

To get your driver's license back after drunk driving charges you may need to:

  1. Attend the license reinstatement hearing and present your case.
  2. Pay required fees, including court fees, license reinstatement fees, reinstatement application fees, and bail fees.
  3. Complete the full license suspension period.
  4. Complete court requirements, which will probably include DUI traffic school.
  5. With driving under influence charge on your driving record, you’ll need to inform your insurance provider about it and get an SR-22 insurance form that proves you have this additional insurance.
  6. Maintain a clean driving record.
  7. Attend an alcohol or drug evaluation program.
  8. Undergo an alcohol or drug treatment or substance abuse education program.
  9. Meet with the Illinois secretary of state hearing officer.
  10. Provide proof of insurance
  11. Prove financial responsibility.
  12. Pass a driving, written, and vision exam.
  13. After completing each of the above steps, you can go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles office and apply for driver’s license reinstatement.

A driver’s license reinstatement is valid after it is entered on your record in the Illinois Secretary of State office.

How to Get Your License Back After a DUI

Typically, for the first DUI, the arresting police officer will take the driver's original driving license and replace it with a provisional license. Refusing to take blood or urine tests, or refusal to take a breathalyzer test at the actual scene of the arrest, can cause automatic suspension. However, this depends on whether the state allows the refusal of these tests. The temporary license usually expires on the court date for your impaired driving case.

Typically, not requesting an administrative hearing results in permanent license suspension, attending the hearing and pleading your case may result in successful license reinstatement. License suspension periods range between three months to one year, depending on how impaired the driver was, whether they had previous DUI convictions and if there was a serious motor vehicle accident.

Further, the required alcohol treatment program varies significantly based on the state and severity of intoxication at DUI arrest. You may need to attend a few hours of substance abuse evaluation. Also, you may be forced to enroll in an alcohol detox and rehabilitation program. While this may seem strict, it’s the nudge people with multiple DUIs to seek treatment for alcohol abuse or addiction.

What’s the Difference Between License Suspension Vs. License Revocation in an Illinois DUI Arrest?

If you’re arrested for drunk driving in Illinois, your driver’s license may either be suspended or revoked depending on the circumstances of your DUI arrest. The circumstances that lead to these consequences include:

  • Refusing to take a chemical test. If you’re pulled over at a traffic stop under suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and refuse to submit to the police officer’s request to take a blood alcohol content (BAC) or THC test, you may be subject to a statutory summary suspension of your driving privileges for up to 12 months. This license suspension is enforceable even if you’re not eventually convicted.
  • Testing above the legal limit. If you don’t have a previous DUI conviction and you consent to the officer’s chemical test and are found to have a blood-alcohol level above 0.08 or a tetrahydrocannabinol blood level of over 5 nanograms per milliliter, you may face a statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license for up to six months. Subsequent offenses may cause a longer period of license suspension.
  • Being convicted of DUI. If after a plea bargain or trial verdict you’re found guilty of drunk driving and convicted, your driver’s license may be revoked for at least one year. The license revocation period is longer for repeat offenses or DUI offenses with aggravating circumstances.

What Is a Statutory Summary Suspension?

This is an administrative procedure that results in civil consequences of license suspension if a DUI offender fails or refuses a breathalyzer test. If you failed a blood alcohol content test, you’ll be subject to automatic license suspension under the Illinois statutory summary suspension law. Also, your license can be suspended if you don't submit to a breath test. Although the U.S. Supreme Court states you don’t have to consent to a blood test without a valid warrant, you have to submit to a breath test under Illinois's implied consent laws.

Whether you refused to submit to the breath test or blew over the legal alcohol limit, your driving privileges will automatically be suspended on the 46th day following the notice of driver’s license suspension, which may be the day of your DUI arrest. This means that you can drive your vehicle until day 45, but then you’re prohibited behind the wheel until the license suspension is lifted or completed.

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

  • A first offense failure of test results in a license suspension for 6 months
  • A first offense of refusing to submit to a chemical test results in a license suspension for 1 year.
  • A second or subsequent failure of chemical test results in license suspension for 1 year
  • A second or subsequent refusal of chemical test results in license suspension for 3 years

Further, it’s essential to note that an automatic suspension differs from criminal punishment. The license suspension may begin before you step foot in court to fight your drunk driving charges. You and your license reinstatement attorney must handle the statutory summary suspension separately from your drunk driving charges. You can fight to have the suspension removed entirely or to be granted limited driving privileges by installing a Monitoring Device Driving Permit in your, which allows you to continue driving with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device.

How Long Do You Lose Your Driver's License After a DUI in Illinois?

If you plead guilty to your drunk driving charges or are found guilty in criminal court, you will also be subject to criminal penalties. Criminal penalties vary depending on the actual DUI charge, whether there were aggravating factors and any previous DUIs. Your sentence could include a prison sentence, a fine, community service, probation, enrollment in a program, and other criminal penalties.

Can you get your license back after a DUI in Illinois?

Criminal penalties for a drunk driving conviction often include license suspension for a period of time.

  • A first DUI offense carries a minimum license suspension period of 1 year.
  • A second DUI offense carries a minimum license suspension period of 5 years.
  • A Third DUI offense carries a minimum license suspension period of 10 years.
  • Fourth and subsequent DUI offenses. Up to lifetime license suspension.
  • Offense an underage driver results in license suspension for 2 years

If you’re a first-time DUI offender, you may have the chance to continue to drive instead of having your license suspended. You and your DUI criminal defense attorney can apply for a hardship license or restricted driving permit from the Illinois Secretary of State. If your application is granted, you’ll need to install a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device installed in your car. The ignition interlock device allows you to drive while regularly checking your breath for alcohol.

To qualify for a temporary driving permit you and your attorney must prove that being unable to drive is a burden and creates an undue hardship, such as not being able to get your job despite needing to support your family or not being able to go to school. The Secretary of State will review your driving record and a current alcohol and drug evaluation to gauge if you would be a danger to public safety. With a restricted license, you will only have limited driving privilege.

Despite what looks like an automatic process, you can challenge the statutory summary. If you were charged with a drunk driving charge and received notification of your license suspension, you may request a DUI hearing. During this hearing, your criminal defense lawyer can make the relevant legal arguments that might help you avoid the license suspension.

There are many ways to fight against license suspension, which can punish you before you even go to court regarding your criminal charges. Also, there are many ways to get back your license even after a DUI conviction. There are ways to make sure you can support yourself and your family during this tough time.

If you’re facing a license suspension because of drunk driving charges and you don’t know what to do, call a Naperville DUI lawyer today at (630) 425-0250 to schedule a free initial consultation.