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If I lose my driver’s license, do I have to stop drinking and going to AA meetings to get the license back?

One of the most devastating consequences of an Illinois conviction for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is the loss of driving privileges that follows. By law, the Illinois Secretary of State is required to revoke your drivers’ license if you are convicted of DUI. 625 ILCS 5/6-205(a)(2) This can have an impact upon your job, your family and your self-esteem.

The revocation will be for at least one year. 625 ILCS 5/6-208(a) A one-year revocation applies if no other DUI convictions appear on your Illinois driving record.

If there is another DUI conviction within the previous 20 years, the new conviction will result in a revocation for 5 years. A third conviction, regardless of the time between offenses, results in a revocation for 10 years.

Four convictions will lead to a lifetime ban on any driving relief, even a restricted driving permit (hardship license) if any DUI arrest that led to a fourth (or greater) conviction occurred after January 1, 1999. 92 Illinois Administrative Code ยงยง1001.420(o), 625 ILCS 5/6-208(b)4., 625 ILCS 5/6-205(c)(1), 6-206(c)3
Court supervision for DUI is not a conviction and will not be a factor in the above equations. Nor will DUI convictions that occurred in any other state, unless the state where the conviction occurred reported it to Illinois, unless it is your fourth or greater offense. Girard v. White, 356 Ill. App. 3d 11, 292 Ill. Dec. 376, 826 N.E.2d 517, (1 Dist. 2005)

A suspension and a revocation are not the same thing. A suspension is a temporary withdrawal of your driving privileges. Your license continues to exist; you just cannot use it during the suspension. However, once the suspension is over and you pay the reinstatement fee, you are allowed to drive, provided your license is otherwise valid.

In connection with DUI offenses, a suspension comes into play as a consequence of your either taking a chemical test (breath or blood) to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) and registering a BAC at or above the legal limit of .08. Your license is also subject to a suspension if you decide not to take the chemical test.

The suspension is always longer if you do not test. The suspension is always longer if you have had a DUI in the previous five years (non first offender)

When the Secretary of State revokes your driver’s license, your privilege to drive ceases to exist. Restoration of those privileges is not, unlike a suspension, automatic. You must apply, after the revocation period of 1, 5 or 10 years ends, for driving privileges through an administrative hearing with the Secretary of State.

There is a common misconception that in order to obtain driving relief following a DUI revocation, you must stop drinking for at least a year and attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. This is true in some instances but not universally so.


Before you may have a hearing with the Secretary of State, you must obtain a drug and alcohol evaluation. The evaluation will determine what your risk level classification is.

If you have never before had a DUI and took a chemical test and registered under .15, you could be classified as minimal risk. AA and abstinence from alcohol (not drinking) is not required. If you have never had a DUI, took the test and registered between .15 and .19, or refused the test, you may be moderate risk. Neither AA nor abstinence is required.

If you have never had a DUI arrest before, took the test and registered .20 or higher, or if you have had a previous DUI, you may be classified at significant risk. But you are not required to abstain or attend AA.

If you have three DUI arrests within 10 years, you must be classified as high risk. If you have fewer than three dependency symptoms, you may be classified as high risk non dependent. You are not required to attend AA. You are not required to abstain although you must demonstrate at least one year of non-problematic use of alcohol at the time of a hearing.

If you have three or more dependency symptoms, you will be high risk dependent, regardless of the number of DUI offenses and regardless of your BAC (or refusal). In that case, you are required to abstain for at least a year ahead of your hearing and attend AA or some other support program.