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What happens in Illinois if my license is revoked or suspended but I did not know it?

In Illinois, if you are convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the Secretary of State is required by law to revoke your driver’s license. 625 ILCS 5/6-205(a)(2) And while not required to do so, the Secretary of State has the discretionary authority to revoke your driver’s license if you are convicted in another state of DUI at a time that you hold an Illinois driver’s license or are a resident of Illinois. 625 ILCS 5/6-205(a)(6)

Illinois sentencing laws provide for court supervision. 730 ILCS 5/5-6-3.1 A disposition of court supervision is not a considered to be a conviction even though you plead guilty to the offense. People v. Williams, 127 Ill. App. 3d 231, 468 N.E.2d 807, 82 Ill. Dec. 260 (3d. Dist. 1984) Court supervision avoids a driver’s license revocation.

Supervision is an option only if you have never been convicted of DUI and never been assigned DUI court supervision on a previous occasion. 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1 If you are convicted of a DUI that arose in another state, your driver’s license will be revoked even though had you received the DUI in Illinois, you would have been eligible for supervision. Schultz v. Edgar, 170 Ill.App.3d 36, 37, 120 Ill.Dec. 378, 523 N.E.2d 1289, 1290 (1988),
Keep in mind that there is a difference between a suspension and a revocation. If you are arrested for DUI in Illinois, you will be asked to take a breath test. If you refuse, your driver’s license will be suspended for either one or three years. The same applies if you refuse a breath test in another state.

The suspension will be for one year if you are considered a first offender, meaning that you have not had a DUI arrest in the prior 5 years. The suspension will run for 3 years if your last arrest was less than 5 years before the new arrest. 625 ILCS 5/6-208


If you take the breath test during an Illinois DUI arrest and register .08 or higher, your driver’s license will be suspended for 6 months if you are a first offender and one year if you are not. Your license will not be suspended if you blow over .08 in connection with an out of state DUI arrest.

A suspension is for a definite period of time. Once that time has run, your suspension is over.

A revocation is for 1, 5 or 10 years. But after that time has run, you must have a driver’s license hearing with the Secretary of State before your full driving privileges may be reinstated. However, after the suspension has ended, you may apply to the Secretary of State for a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP) even though you are still revoked.

It is not, in Illinois, a defense to a charge of driving on a revoked or suspended license if you had not been notified that you were suspended or revoked. The only elements to the offense of driving while revoked are 1) you were driving and 2) your driver’s license was revoked or suspended at the time, Knowledge, intent, emergency etc are not defenses to the charge. People v. Espenscheid, 109 Ill. App. 2d 107, 249 N.E.2d 866 (3 Dist. 1969) The judge may consider your mental state to be relevant in the sentence he imposes however.