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Illinois DUI and other alcohol related offenses for young adults

Illinois law has special provisions pertaining young adults (those under the age of 21) who experience alcohol related incidents. Perhaps surprisingly, several of these offenses can cause a suspension or revocation of driving privileges even though they were not committed in a driving-related context.

A suspension is for a definite period of time. When the time period ends, your license will be returned to you automatically provided it is not otherwise valid. By comparison, if your driver’s license is revoked, you must have a Secretary of State hearing at which you will be required to prove that you are entitled to restoration of your driving privileges.

If you are under 21 and receive a traffic ticket and the officer suspects that you may have been drinking, you will be asked to take a breath test. If you take the test and register above .00, or if you decline to take the test, you will be subject to a driver’s license suspension under the Zero Tolerance (“ZT”) laws. Driving with any amount of alcohol in your system is illegal.

If you do blow over .00, your license will be suspended for 3 months. If you refuse to blow, you will be suspended for 6 months.

If this is your second ZT ticket and you blow over .00, your license will be suspended for 1 year. If you refuse, it will be suspended for 2 years.

As a young adult, if you are convicted of illegal transportation of alcohol (open container in your vehicle) as a driver, your license will be suspended for 12 months. If you are convicted twice of that offense, your license will be revoked for a minimum of 12 months, following which you must have a Secretary of State hearing.

Those under 21 can have their driver’s license suspended for conduct that, if committed by someone over 21, would have no consequences. The Liquor Control Act of 1934 essentially makes it illegal for someone under 21 to possess, consume or purchase alcohol beverages. This is commonly referred to as a “drinking ticket”.

If you receive a drinking ticket, your driver’s license will be suspended for 3 months if you receive court supervision for the offense. If you are not granted supervision and are convicted of the offense, your driver’s license will be suspended for 6 months. Prior to a case known as Webb v. White, all drinking tickets result in a 12-month suspension.

It is not necessary for you to be driving at the time you receive the drinking ticket. The ticket alone constitutes grounds to suspend your driver’s license.

The Secretary of State has reasoned that a young adult who is consuming alcohol illegally is at great risk to be the type of person who may drink and drive in the future. The courts, in a case known as Freed vs. Ryan, have accepted this argument.


The Illinois Vehicle Code makes it illegal for you to possess, display or attempt to fraudulently use a license or identification card that does not belong to you. If you are not a young adult and are found in possession of someone else’s license, the Secretary of State will probably not take any action against your driver’s license.

However, if you are a young adult and are found in possession of a driver’s license or identification card that does not belong to you and if the person to whom the license was issued is over the age of 21, you will probably receive a 1-year driver’s license suspension from the Secretary of State.

The assumption is that you are using that license to purchase alcohol illegally. Therefore, as is the case with the young adult who consumes alcohol illegally, you are at considered to be at greater risk to drink and drive.

In fact, because the fake license allows you to purchase alcohol repeatedly, both for yourself and other young adults, you are considered even more dangerous to the motoring public and therefore you receive a longer suspension.

As is the case with drinking tickets, you need not be operating a motor vehicle when the police find you in possession of someone else’s license. Most fake license suspensions arise out of incidents where someone is in, or walking to or from, a bar, with no evidence of driving. Finally, keep in mind that the suspension will happen even if you do not receive a drinking ticket, even if you were not actually drinking and even if you had not actually used the license.

If you are under the age of 21 years and receive a DUI in Illinois, you face a special set of rules if you are convicted. First of all, your driver’s license will be revoked for 2 years, instead of 1 year. During the first year of the revocation, you cannot apply for any type of driving relief, not even a restricted driving permit. You can, however, apply for a restricted permit during the second year of the revocation and you can request a full license beginning in the third year.