Starting July 1, 2011, Illinois has a new law allowing the Secretary of State to automatically revoke your license after a traffic accident.
The new law is geared to stiffen penalties against drunk drivers, but may impact even those who had not been drinking. Under the new law, if you are in an accident that causes injury or death to another, the Secretary of State can automatically revoke your license for at least one year if you refuse or fail to complete chemical testing following an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI). (See http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=062500050HCh%2E+1&ActID=1815&ChapterID=49&SeqStart=100000&SeqEnd=30200000.)
This revocation remains in effect even if you are later found not guilty of the offense. And, you can no longer obtain a special driving permit, such as a breath activated ignition device, even if this is your first offense. (625 ILCS 5/6-208.1)
Under the prior law if you were charged with DUI, your license could be suspended for a set period of time, after which you could send in a fee and get your license back. The difference now is that a revocation does not end quite so simply. You must apply for reinstatement with the Secretary of State. If you are fortunate, the Secretary will grant you a restricted driving license on your first attempt. The process to regain your license can be a long, complex and expensive one requiring one or more hearings and is best conducted with the help of an experienced attorney.
To trigger the revocation under the new law, there must be a Type A injury, which is defined as any injury that "requires immediate professional attention in either a doctor's office or a medical facility. A Type A injury includes severely bleeding wounds, distorted extremities, and injuries that require the injured party to be carried from the scene." (625 ILCS 5/11-501.1). This language can be subject to some interpretation. A cautious victim may request an ambulance ride to the emergency room even if they are relatively unhurt, yet this may be sufficient to trigger the revocation.
Because of the new changes, you can be revoked without a DUI charge or even drinking, for example, if you left the scene of an accident involving injury or death and then failed to complete chemical tests. (625 ILCS 401). A first offense for driving under a revoked license is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. A subsequent offense is a Class 4 Felony, punishable 1 to 3 years in prison along with a fine. The car you drive may also be seized.
If you are charged because of an accident involving injury or death, it has become even more critical that you speedily retain an experienced attorney in order to challenge the revocation of your license. A quickly filed motion might prevent a revocation altogether. If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email [email protected].
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)