Written by attorney Victor Churma



It goes without saying that a driver's license in today's world is vital to carrying out your day to day activities as well as meeting the needs of those you care about. While the loss or revocation of your driving privileges is a truly difficult situation for both you and your family, you CAN get your license back (there are a few exceptions) but the process is best handled with the assistance of an experienced attorney.


1.First and foremost, a person whose driver's license/driving privileges is revoked in Illinois needs to understand that regaining a driver's license is not automatic nor does the mere passage of time since the revocation affect the Secretary of State's decision as to whether or not driving privileges will be reinstated. The Secretary of State will not ever notify you that you can or should try and regain your license once it has been revoked. Because “driving" is considered a privilege and not a right, that privilege must be applied for, a hearing held and then a decision to either grant or deny is made by the Secretary of State. It is the hearing process itself that determines whether or not you may drive in Illinois. Of course, the Secretary does not make these decisions himself; he delegates that duty to professional hearing officers, all of whom are experts in this area. Shouldn't you have experienced and skilled counsel on your side in preparing for and proceeding with a hearing where the stakes are as important as a driver's license?

The Secretary of State, by statute, is charged with the duty of protecting the public safety when deciding the issue of who may regain driving privileges : “...….In no event shall the Secretary issue such license unless and until such person has had a hearing pursuant to this Code and the appropriate administrative rules and the Secretary is satisfied, after a review or investigation of such person, that to grant the privilege of driving a motor vehicle on the highways will not endanger the public safety or welfare." (See 625 ILCS 5/6-208//The Illinois Vehicle Code)

Further, the Secretary of State's Administrative Rules governing such a hearing require 1) the driver to prove that he deserves reinstatement and 2) the proof required is by clear and convincing evidence :......"Burden of Proof. Before any driving relief will be granted, the petitioner must prove by clear and convincing evidence: that he/she does not have a current problem with alcohol or other drugs; that he/she is a low or minimal risk to repeat his/her past abusive behaviors and operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs; and that he/she has complied with all other standards in these rules....If the evidence establishes that the petitioner has had an alcohol /drug problem , the petitioner must prove also the problem has been resolved." (See 92 ILL Adm Code, Section1001.40(b).)

Simply put, the revoked driver must prove his case applying the above standards while the Secretary of State does not have to prove anything at a formal hearing for a driver's license or restricted driving permit.

2.The driver's live testimony and required documentation are the key parts to a successful hearing before the Secretary of State. The focus is always on the alcohol/drug aspects of a person's DUI history since that is what the Secretary must determine : will the petitioning driver,who has 2 or more previous DUI arrests, be arrested again for DUI? While the Secretary may consider other factors in making his decision such as total driving record, criminal history, any medical condition etc.,the bottom line is and has always been the requirement that the revoked driver prove he no longer is a threat to the public safety and the chances he will be arrested again for DUI are minimal. It is important to state the obvious here: DUI convicted drivers are revoked because they are presumed to be a threat to the public (and not, as some believe, for punitive or punishment reasons); proving they no longer are a threat to the public is the only way to turn that revoked status into a valid driver's license.

3.The procedures and documentation required to obtain driving privileges are complex, technical in nature, and often confusing. The petitioner also has to appear and testify/answer numerous questions that are directly related to his overall burden of proving that he deserves driving privileges.

The services of an experienced and skilled attorney during this entire process is highly recommended. The Secretary has an attorney present at every formal hearing; for that reason alone the revoked driver should too. Second, meeting the necessary requirements and then proving a case that satisfies the Secretary of State and results in a favorable outcome is usually beyond the ability of the average person---just as performing appendix surgery on yourself would be.

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