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Illinois driver’s license reinstatement formal and informal hearings

If you lose your driver’s license due to a DUI conviction, you must have a driver’s license hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State in order to obtain any type of driving privileges. You may apply for a restricted permit during the statutory summary suspension period if you are a first offender as defined by 625 ILCS 5/11-500. If you are not a first offender, you are prohibited from having a hearing if your statutory summary suspension has not ended. 625 ILCS 5/6-208.1(g).

Once the suspension terminates, you may be eligible to request reinstatement of your full driving privileges, or you may only be eligible for a restricted driving permit (RDP) if your period of eligibility for reinstatement has not ended. The period of ineligibility for full reinstatement due to a DUI conviction depends upon your prior driving record and upon whether you took or elected not to submit to tests to determine your blood alcohol level. The revocation period (i.e., the period of ineligibility for full reinstatement) will be 1, 5 or 10 years.

During the period that you are ineligible for reinstatement, any application for driving relief requires you to demonstrate undue hardship. Undue hardship is more than mere inconvenience to yourself or others. However, the Fourth District Appellate Court, in Clark v. White, rejected the notion the Secretary of State advanced that if you are managing to get to work, undue hardship is automatically lacking.

Restricted permits may only be issued for purposes of employment (to and from and on the job), ongoing medical appointments for you and/or family members, attendance at support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, substance abuse treatment, court-ordered community service, educational pursuits for you or family members and day care. 625 ILCS 5/6-205(c)(1); 92 Illinois Administrative Code (IAC) §1001.420 (b). Neither the statutes nor the administrative rules authorize granting a permit to seek employment, to drive to the doctor in case of an emergency or to buy groceries.


Frequently, although contrary to popular myth, not always, the Secretary of State will, as a probationary device, issue a restricted permit to someone who is eligible for full reinstatement. 92 IAC §1001.420 (i). In that case, absent exigent circumstances, the permitee must be in possession of the permit for 9 months before being eligible to request a reinstatement hearing. 92 IAC §1001.430(i)

Some applicants are eligible for an informal hearing. Formal and informal hearings differ in the following respects:

1)informal hearings are heard on a show up basis, whereas you must request a formal hearing, which the Secretary of State will schedule and send you notice;
2) there is no fee for an informal hearing. You must pay a $50.00 hearing fee before the Secretary of State will set a formal hearing;
3) decisions at an informal hearing are not subject to appeal as it is not a final decision. Formal hearings are subject to appeal under the Administrative Review Act 92 IAC §1001.300(a);
4) the Secretary of State has no legal representative present at an informal hearing. The Secretary of State hearing officer alone is present;
5) the informal hearing decision is in the form of a short letter. A formal hearing results in a detailed, lengthy decision that consists of findings of fact and conclusions of law; and
6) the informal hearing officer takes the lead in questioning the applicant. At a formal hearing, if counsel represents the petitioner, counsel is expected to take the lead after the hearing officer and Secretary of State attorney have covered a few preliminary matters.

An informal hearing is not available if you have been involved as the driver in a crash in which death results, if you are contesting the action of the Secretary in suspending or revoking your driver’s license (such as contesting an under aged drinking ticket), or if you have had more than one DUI conviction, including out-of-state convictions or have a combination of 2 or more convictions or implied consent or statutory summary suspensions arising from separate DUI arrests. Finally, the Secretary of State reserves the right, without explanation, to require someone who is eligible for an informal hearing to attend a formal hearing. 92 IAC §1001.300(b)