The State of Illinois requires every operator of an automobile to be licensed by the Secretary of State so that they can control who is qualified to drive and who is not. The licensure requirements allow the state to exclude bad drivers and unsafe drivers who cannot operate a vehicle properly. Unfortunately, as a result of our mobile society, it has become more and more difficult to earn a living, get food or provide for oneself without the assistance of a car. So those without a license often find themselves in a position where they feel that they "must" drive.
Both citizens and certain non-citizens are eligible for a license. In the case of U.S. citizens age 21 or over, such people can obtain an Illinois driver’s license by visiting a Secretary of State facility, providing sufficient identification to prove citizenship and Illinois residency, taking a road test, a written test, an eye test and paying a modest fee if they pass the tests. For citizens who are younger than 21 years old, the rules however require the following:
Yes! Fortunately for undocumented immigrants, the State of Illinois passed legislation in 2013 that allows the issuance of a driver's license under certain strictly controlled circumstances. This type of driver’s license for undocumented non-citizens and non-visa status individuals is called a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL).
Having trouble getting your driving privileges reinstated? Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC can help. Call us at (312) 644-0444 to learn more.
Driving without a valid license includes not only those circumstances where a person has never had a license, but also includes those people such as those who did have a license but allowed it to expire. The vast majority of people charged with this ticket however have historically been those without social security numbers and consequently had been unable to secure a license from the Secretary of State. Since 2013, many undocumented immigrants have been able to secure TVDLs (as detailed above) and thereby avoid such violations.
The laws about this that govern Chicago, Arlington Heights and all of Illinois are contained in our statute at 625 ILCS 5/6-101. This law says that everyone (except certain people listed below) need to have a driver’s license, learner’s permit or restricted driving permit in order to drive a motor vehicle on any “highway” in Illinois (which doesn’t really mean only highways – it really means any public maintained street or road, no matter how small and whether it’s paved or just gravel). The only persons who are exempt from this law are:
Drivers are not allowed to hold two valid licenses from two different states or countries at the same time. Except for drivers who hold an out-of-state permit or Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), all others must surrender their out-of-state licenses if they are eligible for an Illinois license and wish to obtain one. A failure to inform the Secretary of State (SOS) of the existence of another license may be grounds to revoke or cancel that person’s license in Illinois.
Although all Illinois residents who are US citizens or undocumented immigrants (who qualify for a TVDL) are typically eligible for an Illinois license, there are some exceptions. Some of these people who may be ineligible including:
Regarding those charged with the crime of not having a valid regular license or a TVDL, although this violation is typically charged as a Petty Offense, the consequences can also be severe as this offense may be treated as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2500 in fines, for instance if the driver is a Registered Sex Offender and has failed to register. Representation by a knowledgeable attorney is therefore very important in this situation because even if the defendant is not sentenced to jail, a conviction on this offense may suspend that person's privileges to drive in the future.
The most common concern that most people have about getting ticketed for this violation is the effect on their driving record. If a driver receives a Court Supervision on this charge, then there is typically no effect at all on their record (other than the obvious notation on the record once the court reports its findings to the SOS). Of greatest importance is that if Supervision is received, it doesn’t affect the driver’s ability to get right to work to fix whatever is holding back their driving privileges.
On the other hand, if a conviction is received on the charge (also known as Conditional Discharge or Probation), once this is reported to the Secretary of State (SOS), the SOS will swiftly suspend that person’s right to drive for a period of three months or longer, and in the case of certain drivers under 21, may delay their ability to obtain a full license for an even greater period.
Some common questions from clients are how it’s even possible to suspend my license if I never even had one in the first place and possibly may not even be eligible to receive one? And even if it’s possible, what difference does it make? First of all, yes, the Secretary of State can do that, and it does it probably hundreds of times a day. That’s because they’re not really suspending your “license” (which you don’t have), but they’re suspending your “ability to obtain a license”. Getting your license suspended (even if you don’t have one or can’t get one) is still very problematic for two main reasons:
So basically, it’s not good to drive if your license isn’t valid, but it’s really not good to drive if your license is suspended or revoked. That’s why if there’s any way to avoid a suspension, an experienced legal team such as the attorneys at Sexner & Associates LLC will always try their best to avoid such suspensions and revocations. You can reach our offices 24/7 at (312) 644-0444.
In Illinois, a suspended license generally means that the person’s driver's license has been taken away for a particular period of time or that the suspension can be terminated upon completion or satisfaction of a particular requirement. So, whereas the path to fixing a revoked license or an invalid license may sometimes be very long and uncertain, a driver with a suspended license usually has a clear path to reinstatement if the proper steps are taken.
Some of the most common examples of suspensions and some of the solutions that an experienced traffic attorney will employ include:
A suspension for too many movers (also known as a 03 suspension) happens when an adult or minor gets too many moving violation convictions with a certain time period. In the case of an adult age 21 or over, it takes 3 convictions on moving violations within a 12-month period (not a calendar year, but a rolling 12-month period) in order for a suspension to occur. In the case of a licensed driver under the age of 21, the general rule is that the license would become suspended if the driver received 2 or more moving violation convictions over the course of a 24-month rolling period before they reach the age of 21. Our legal team will typically explore whether one or more of the convictions can be overturned (known as a Motion to Vacate) in order to rescind (which means to undo) the suspension. If vacating one or more of the convictions can be accomplished, it’s like pulling one card out from the bottom of a house of cards; the whole suspension will collapse.
In many states, a driver’s license will become suspended due to excessive “points”. This refers to the facts that most moving violations are assigned a “point value” and when a certain threshold is reached and the driver has collected too many points during a specific time period, their license becomes suspended. But in Illinois, our system is not considered a pure point system. Instead, we have what is called a “modified point system”.
In our state, when a person is convicted of a certain number of moving violations (3 in a 12-month period for adults or 2 in a 24-month period for those under age 21), then the Secretary of State (SOS) will calculate the point value of these convictions to determine the extent of the loss of driving privileges. But different that other states, there is no calculation at all until the required number of convictions has occurred during the required time period.
For instance, if an adult gets 2 speeding convictions (even serious, high-speed convictions) every 12 months, every year for many years, no action will likely be taken because they didn’t get 3 convictions during any particular 12-month period. However, if they do get too many, then the SOS will calculate the penalty, The higher the point value, the longer and more serious the loss of privileges. Depending on the point total, the SOS may take administrative action to suspend a license for as little as 1 month, or in cases where the point total is very high, it can even result in a revocation (not a suspension) of the license. Here are some examples of the relative point values of certain common moving violations:
A Statutory Summary Suspension (also known as a 17 suspension) is a specific type of suspension that occurs only to those charged with a DUI and varies in length from 6 months to 3 years in length. In order to try to rescind that suspension, our legal team must file and then win a petition that must be filed with the court within 90 days of the DUI arrest. The most common bases to contest the Statutory Summary Suspension (SSS) include:
A Statutory Summary Suspension generally begins 46 days after the date of arrest. Until that time, a person’s driver’s license doesn’t become suspended for that reason. For purposes of the SSS only, a “first time offender” means a person who hasn’t had a DUI in the last 5 years, which is NOT the same definition of “first time offender” that is used for purposes of DUI sentencing. Once the period of SSS begins, the suspension will last for:
Sometime before the Statutory Summary Suspension time period is over, the defendant is then required to pay a “reinstatement fee” to the Secretary of State. Such reinstatement fees are common with all suspensions and revocations, although the fee differs depending on what type of suspension or revocation is involved.
The failure to pay the associated reinstatement fee is a very common (and very serious) problem. Although the paperwork that is sent by the SOS to the defendant during their suspension does explain that this reinstatement fee is necessary, it’s easy to overlook. Why is it serious? Because driving on a suspended license when the reason is a Statutory Summary Suspension is more serious that when the ticket is because of some other suspension reason. In this case, there are mandatory minimum penalties that apply which may include jail, high fines, and/or re-suspension of license.
Illinois is a mandatory automobile insurance state. As part of receiving a driver’s license in Chicago or anywhere in the state, a driver promises to maintain a certain minimum level of liability insurance. This is called being “financially responsible”. The Secretary of State (SOS) doesn’t however normally require you to report to them which company you’re using or to prove you have insurance. It’s simply too hard for the SOS to keep track of insurance for millions of Illinois drivers. Because people can change insurance companies every day if they wish, tracking these changes would be overwhelming. Instead, the state just trusts that we’re all insured. That is, until such time that something comes to their attention indicating that you’re not.
This typically comes to their attention in one of a couple ways. The first way is when a person is issued a traffic ticket by a police officer for Driving with No Insurance (also known as a (3-707). If that person truly had insurance, the Judge would dismiss the case in court. But if the defendant enters a plea to the charge, that information will be transmitted to the Secretary of State and they will know that this person must have been driving while uninsured. Another way that this comes to the attention of the SOS is when a person is in a car accident without insurance, and the other party (whether it’s the other driver or their attorney or their insurer) tells the SOS that you were not insured.
So, what happens next once the SOS learns you were not insured? The answer is that your license becomes suspended. The Secretary of State no longer trusts that you’ll stay insured and now you’re on their radar. An insurance suspension (also known as a 04, 05, or 06 suspension) can occur for a number of different reasons including a failure to purchase SR22 insurance in a timely manner, having an accident without insurance in place, or receiving a civil judgement in court due to a car accident. Depending on which insurance suspension is in place, our legal team may be able to help our clients get the suspension lifted within a matter of days. Some of the many ways to fix your suspended license may include:
Regardless of which insurance related suspension you have, the legal team at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC will help you determine the best and least expensive path to an unsuspended license and can be reached at (312) 644-0444.
There are many other types of suspensions that a driver in Illinois may receive including:
In each of these circumstances, the suspension can usually be lifted if the driver either avoids getting arrested again or satisfies the suspension by paying the right party. Generally, at the end of a suspension or revocation, the driver must also pay a "reinstatement fee" to the Illinois Secretary of State (DMV) as well to fully release the license. Unlike an invalid license, a ticket for driving on a suspended license is usually a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to $2500 in fines and up to one year in jail.
Although people sometimes use the terms “Suspension” and “Revocation” interchangeably, the two terms could not be more different. In contrast to suspensions, revocations do not really have any specific termination or ending date, so it’s not possible to just “wait out” the suspension period to reinstate the license. Instead, the loss of privileges is what is called "indeterminate", which means that it will end when the Secretary of State is ready for it to end.
People are often confused by what they see on their driving record (driving abstract) when viewing information about a revocation. There is typically a future date that relates to the revocation period and most people assume that this is a date after which the license will be automatically valid. Although this is generally true for suspensions, in the case of revocations it’s not, as the date typically just denotes the earliest date that the SOS might release the driver’s full license IF AND WHEN they are convinced that the driver is worthy. This may take a short time or a long time, but it generally involves the driver petitioning the Illinois Secretary of State for driving relief, either by taking part in an "informal" hearing or a "formal" hearing at the Secretary of State offices.
At this hearing, the drivers will need to convince the Secretary of State that he or she has met certain criteria in order for the DMV to release the license or to allow a probationary or hardship license. It is highly recommended that a driver uses an experienced attorney for "formal" hearings as they are generally contentious and not a friendly event. The process of reinstating your driver’s license can be long and complex. The experienced Chicago traffic attorneys of Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC know the “ins and outs” of this process and are prepared to help you navigate your way through them.
Just like most suspended license tickets and invalid license tickets, revoked tickets are also usually misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $2500 in fines. But depending on the circumstances of the offense and the driver’s driving history, there are many situations where the moving violation may be upgraded to a felony which may then carry mandatory minimum jail time or even a long, mandatory prison sentence with no possibility of probation. This is why for most revoked license tickets; the judge will instruct the defendant to hire an attorney to represent him or her.
Although there is more than one reason (called a “basis”) why a person’s driving privileges may become revoked, the most common (and the most serious) basis for a revocation involves those due to a previous Driving Under the Influence offense.
When a person is charged with a suspended or revoked license offense, the prosecutor and judge are guided by Section 6-303 of our traffic code. Most violations (based on other than a DUI) are Class A misdemeanors which although punishable by up to 365 days in jail, do not mandate (order) the judge to give any particular minimum sentence. If the judge wants to give zero days in jail and a $1 fine, he/she can do it. If a driver has had multiple previous violations, the statute does require a minimum mandatory penalty of either 30 days in jail or 300 hours of community service. But because the law says “OR”, the judge still has a free hand to avoid jail and just give community service under such circumstances.
However, when the basis for the revoked license ticket is because of a DUI or certain other specified serious reasons, an entirely different set of rules applies:
If your license is suspended or revoked because of DUI, Statutory Summary Suspension / Revocation or Leaving the Scene of an Injury Accident, then the following mandatory minimum penalties apply:
As a legal matter, there are very few circumstances where a person "must" drive and has no other option. Needing to get to work at the risk of being fired is just not legally a defense to such a ticket. It may be understandable, and it may be a good excuse, but it's usually not a legal defense, because there usually friends with cars, Uber, cabs and public transportation available. Although a lack of knowledge that the driver’s license was invalid, revoked or suspended may technically be a defense, proving this lack of knowledge is often an entirely different matter and is seldom successful at trial. Practically the only situation that would likely be acceptable as a defense might be when someone is extremely ill and there is no time to call a cab or an ambulance. This would be a very unusual circumstance.
But this doesn’t mean that fighting tickets for driving with an invalid, suspended or revoked license cannot be successful under certain circumstances. Experienced traffic attorneys know where to look for such potential defenses.
Few other Chicago traffic offenses have such a wide range of penalties associated with them as do suspended and revoked license tickets. Depending upon the type of suspension and the client's past driving record, such tickets may be simple and easy with very small fines and little effect on the client's driving record; or they may be extremely serious with long mandatory terms of imprisonment and extensive damage to the client's driving record. For instance, a suspension that results from a failure to appear on a speeding ticket is not very serious whereas a revocation based upon a DUI when the client has had many such previous tickets carries with it long mandatory jail terms.
The lawyers associated with Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC are all experienced Chicago traffic violation attorneys that know the best ways to help you protect your driving privileges. Mitchell Sexner himself is a former traffic Assistant State's Attorney and all members of the legal team have a proven track record of successes. So, contact us any time at (312) 644-0444 to set up a free no-obligation consultation and to review your driving record.