In Illinois, the Secretary of State suspends driver's licenses for a variety of reasons. Your license can be suspended because of too many unpaid parking tickets, or because you got arrested for a DUI. If you make the decision to drive while your license is suspended, there may be serious penalties. It's important to know that your Illinois suspension applies to driving out of state as well. If your license is suspended in Illinois, you are prohibited from driving everywhere.
"I didn't know my license was suspended!"
Maybe you didn't even know that your license was suspended, and you found out the hard way. If you got pulled over for speeding and the officer told you that you were in trouble for driving with a suspended license, you may be confused. The first thing you should do is contact the Secretary of State's office and find out why your license was suspended. Although you should have received a notice in the mail (even if you have physical possession of your license it can still be suspended), people move and things get lost in the mail.
How can I fix this?
For many suspensions, you just need to fix the problem and pay a reinstatement fee. For example, if your license is suspended because of unpaid parking tickets, you need to pay the tickets, plus a fee to the Secretary of State, and your license suspension should end. If your license was suspended for more serious violations, such as a DUI, you may be able to get temporary driving privileges. However, to end suspension, you generally have to wait out the statutory suspension period (three months for a first offense) and then request a hearing from the Secretary of State. (Note however that if you are convicted of a DUI your license can be revoked for a year or more.)
How do I know if my license has been reinstated?
If you have followed the steps for reinstatement that are relevant to your situation (toll violations, DUI, unpaid debt, etc.), and paid the required reinstatement fee, then you you're almost done. Make sure you notify the Secretary of State as well. Do not drive until you are certain that your license is no longer suspended. The consequences of driving with a suspended license can be serious, and you shouldn't take any chances.
Do I need an attorney?
Maybe. If your suspension was for failing to get emissions testing, you can probably get your license reinstated on your own (get the test and notify the Secretary of State). However, if your license was suspended because of a DUI, you should talk to an attorney. And anytime you are worried about how a driver's license suspension or any other traffic violation will affect your record, an experienced attorney is in the best position to explain your rights and options.
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If your license has been suspended and you need help with reinstatement, or if you've been caught driving with a suspended license, give us a call. We can recommend an experienced defense attorney who will protect your rights.
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