Published on:

What is the difference in Illinois between a suspended and revoked driver’s license?

Suppose you are arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Illinois. Such an arrest typically involves a criminal charge.

If you are convicted, you face the possibility of being fined, sentenced to probation or jail, ordered to attend alcohol classes and a MADD panel, required to wear an ankle bracelet and subjected to other punishments that can arise from a criminal case. DUI is a Class-A misdemeanor, which is a crime. 625 ILCS 5/111-501
There is also a noncriminal aspect to the DUI arrest, namely, negative action taken against your driver’s license. This is known as an “administrative sanction”.

A driver’s license suspension or revocation may seem like punishment, but a driver’s license is a privilege and not a right and furthermore, administrative sanctions do not include jail or fines. Therefore, taking away your driver’s license is not considered criminal in nature.

You may experience driver’s license sanctions arising from a DUI arrest that include a suspension or a revocation or both. A suspension creates a temporary hold on your right to drive for a specific period of time. After that time period ends, your suspension is over once you pay a reinstatement fee. 625 ILCS 5/1-204
A driver’s license revocation is also for a given period of time. But unlike a suspension, a revocation ends your right to drive, rather than just putting it on hold.

After the revocation time is over, your right to drive is not restored automatically. You must request driving privileges by having a driver’s license hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State. 625 ILCS 5/1-176
A successful driver’s license hearing requires that you provide a drug and alcohol evaluation, complete classes and if your classification is high risk dependent (alcoholics) stop drinking for at least 12 months and develop a support program, either Alcoholics Anonymous or a nontraditional program. There may be a fee for the hearing. Even if you win, you may be required to install, at your expense, a Breath Alcohol Interlock Ignition Device (BAIID). Finally, you will be required to pay a reinstatement fee.

Fees, evaluations, classes, breath machines etc. may sound like punishment. They are not considered punishment because the law does not force you to apply for your driver’s license.

A suspension arises from a DUI arrest based upon what happens when the police ask you to take a chemical test (breath or blood) during the arrest. If you register at least .08 on the chemical test or refuse to take it, the Secretary of State will suspend your driver’s license for anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. If you have gone more than 5 years without a DUI, the suspension is 6 months if you take the test and 12 months if you do not. You can apply for a driving permit during all but the first 30 days of the suspension. This is known as a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) . 625 ILCS 5/6-208.1


If fewer than 5 years have passed since a previous DUI arrest, you will be suspended for 12 months if you test and 36 months if you refuse. You cannot have any type of driving privileges, even a hardship permit, during these suspensions. 625 ILCS 5/6-208.1
As previously stated, a suspension ends automatically. But if you are convicted of the DUI offense, your driver’s license will be revoked. Thus, even if the suspension is over, you will still have to have a driver’s license hearing to end the revocation.

However, once the suspension is over, you might be entitled to request a hardship license (RDP) even though the revocation time is not over. An example may be helpful.

Suppose you have a DUI in 2008 and are convicted. Suppose you have another DUI in 2011 and refuse the chemical test. Because of the 5-year look back and your refusal, you will be suspended for 3 years. You cannot request any type of driving privileges for those 3 years.

Also, suppose you are convicted of the 2011 DUI. By law, your license will be revoked for 5 years. 625 ILCS 5/6-208(b)(2) That means that you cannot apply for a full license for 5 years. However, after the 3 year suspension ends, you may have a hearing with the Secretary of State at which you may request a license to drive on a limited basis.