Written by attorney Ted Harvatin


The Illinois Secretary of State is required to revoke your driver’s license in Illinois if you are convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). The revocation period can be 1, 5 or 10 years, depending on your driving record.

Your first DUI conviction results in a one year revocation. If you are convicted of a second DUI within 20 years of a previous arrest, you will receive a 5 year revocation. A third conviction at any time will result in a 10 year revocation.

Under Illinois law, you must have a driver’s license hearing with the Secretary of State at the end of your revocation period in order to legally drive. During the 1, 5 or 10 year revocation period, you may be eligible for a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP) if you can prove undue hardship.

A revocation is not the same as a suspension. You will be given a statutory summary suspension if you failed to submit to a breath test or blood draw at the time of your DUI arrest, or you did submit and your test resulted in a finding that your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit of .08. A suspension ends automatically when the suspension period is over. If you have not been arrested for DUI within the previous 5 years and you agree to take the breath or alcohol tests, you will be suspended for a period of 6 months. If you refuse to take the tests, your suspension will be for 12 months. A Restricted Driving Permit (hardship license) is an option.

If you have had a DUI arrest within the previous 5 years and you refuse the breath test, you will not be able to drive for any reason for 3 years. If you submit to testing, you will receive a one-year suspension. You will not be eligible for a Restricted Driving Permit during your entire suspension period.

The Secretary of State can only revoke your license after you have been convicted of a DUI in Illinois. He does have very limited authority to revoke your license before your DUI conviction and before you have had a hearing. This is called an administrative revocation because the Secretary of State is an administrative agency (not a court) who can impose a revocation without court action.

Once the Secretary of State enters a revocation, you are entitled to request a hearing to contest the revocation. By that time you will have already been charged in criminal court with DUI or aggravated DUI (a felony). Anything you say at the Secretary of State hearing can be used against you in the felony case.

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