Chicago Driving with Invalid, Revoked, or Suspended License Lawyers

WalletThe 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.

Laws Concerning Driving Without a Valid License in Chicago

Driving without a valid license includes not only those circumstances where a person has never had a license, but also includes those people 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 have been unable to secure a license from the Secretary of State.

What is a TVDL?

Fortunately for such people, who are often undocumented aliens, the State of Illinois has passed legislation that will allow 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). Requirements and information about obtaining a TVDL presently include:

  • A TVDL is not valid for identification purposes, but only for driving purposes
  • Once granted, it’s valid for three years
  • A TVDL is only valid if the cardholder has valid vehicle insurance
  • Proof of at least 12 months Illinois residency is required
  • A TVDL may not be accepted in states other than Illinois

Potential Penalties

For all those charged with this crime who do not have a valid regular license or TVDL, the consequences can be severe as this offense is generally treated as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2500 in fines. 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 will normally suspend that person's privileges to drive in the future.

Laws Concerning Driving with a Suspended License in Chicago

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 the solutions that an experienced traffic attorney will use include:

  • A suspension for too many movers (also known as an 03 suspension) happens when an adult or minor gets too many moving violation convictions with a certain time period. 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.
  • 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.
  • An insurance suspension (also known as an 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.
  • There are many other types of suspensions that may occur including those for a failure to stay current on child support or failure to pay tickets in Chicago court or elsewhere.

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. Just like 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.

Laws Concerning Driving with a Revoked License in Chicago

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" meaning 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 for the revocation period and most 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 DMV 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 use an experienced attorney for "formal" hearings as they are generally contentious and not a friendly event. The process of reinstating your drivers license can be long and complex. The experienced 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 suspended license tickets and most 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 can 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.

Defenses for Driving while Suspended, Revoked or Invalid

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 just not a legal defense. 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.

Call Chicago Defense Lawyers with Experience

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 pay a speeding ticket is not very serious whereas a revocation based upon a DUI when the client has had many such tickets before 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.