Notice of the Illinois Driver's License Suspension - When and How?
When an Illinois driver is arrested for DUI, the arresting officer takes the physical license as full or partial bond in the criminal case. This is only a piece of plastic, and later return of an Illinois Driver's License does not necessarily signify the right to drive. The officer prepares a "Law Enforcement Sworn Report", and presents the motorist with a copy entitled "Notice of Summary Suspension". This notice is meant to serve notice that 46 days later, the Illinois Secretary of State will enter a suspension. It also explains which type of suspension will ensue. As of the date of this writing, the possibilities range from as little as 3 months up to 3 years. The reverse side of the notice specifically states that during the 45 day interim, the motorist, if bearing otherwise valid driving privileges, may drive using the notice as a "Receipt to Drive". As of January 2009, the law will require a suspension ranging from 6 month up to 3 years.
Limitations on a Challenge to the Suspension
A motorist may file a petition to challenge the validity of the suspension. This is called a "Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension". This must be filed formally with the Clerk of the Circuit Court where the DUI case will be heard. The notice itself correctly states that any such petition must be filed within 90 days. Failure to do so will prevent any challenge. The grounds for contention are limited to a handful of factors by Illinois Statue (law). In fact, it is in the motorists best interest to file this petition as soon as possible. Within 30 days of filing or the first court date, the prosecution must provide a hearing or lose the petition to do a failure to provide Due Process. Illinois DUI law does not permit the office of the Public Defender to pursue a Petition to Rescind on behalf of a defendant.
How does a DUI suspension get started?
A Statutory Summary Suspension occurs when a motorist either submits to chemical testing that produces a result prohibited under Illinois law, or refuses to do so following a DUI arrest. For instance, a breath or blood sample demonstrating a 0.08% or higher blood-alcohol concentration, or a blood or urine sample revealing the presence of any known illegal narcotic substance. An important note is that a suspension does not ensue if the motorist was not observed to have been upon a public highway. In other words, sitting in the car with the keys in a closed garage may be a DUI under Illinois law, but it will not engender a suspension.
Is a permit to drive available?
In Illinois, a motorist who has not been arrested or suspended for a DUI arrest within the last 5 years is eligible to obtain a Judicial Driving Permit. This permit can be sought only for work, higher education or medical needs purposes, or any combination of those three. The permit may not be used until after the first 30 days of the suspension lapses. In January 2009 JDPs will be replace by a different system called a "monitoring device driving permit" or MDDP which will require installation of a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device. These permits also require the 30 day "hardship" period, but motorists may drive for any legal reason they choose, including grocery shopping and getting to and from court (such was not the case with JDPs).
Special considerations regarding motorists with a non-Illinois Driver's License.
If a motorist's license is issued by another state at the time of the DUI arrest within Illinois, the officer will not take the license as bond, or for any other reason. Illinois will create a Driver's License number and generate a file to trigger the suspension process. The Secretary of State will also notify the driver's home state. In most cases, the home state will not suspend on this basis alone, but in some states they will do so, and the motorist's lawyer should investigate this question carefully. Unless the home state takes action, the motorist will be able to drive in 49 states -- just not in Illinois. It is important to note that a conviction or a supervision order (non-conviction) in Illinois will often trigger some restrictive action in the home state. Again , the attorney should carefully investigate.