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Driving without a license

Illinois driver’s license law requires most individuals who wish to operate a vehicle on the public roadways of Illinois to possess a valid driver’s license issued by Illinois. (625 ILCS 5/6-101) Moreover, under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, Illinois must recognize a driver’s license issued by any other state.

At this juncture, a word about an International Driver’s License is in order. The ones that you buy on the Internet are worthless and afford you no legal protection.

These should be distinguished from the International Driver’s License that the Illinois Secretary of State will issue to a driver from another country who provides proof that they hold a valid foreign license. In reality, what the Secretary of State does is issue the foreign national a temporary Illinois driver’s license that is backed up by a valid license from another country, which is what distinguishes it from the Internet junk.

Back to the matter at hand, let’s suppose you do not have a valid license, either because you never obtained one or the one you had has expired or been canceled for some reason. If you are caught driving, you are guilty of the offense of driving without a valid license.

While somewhat serious, a conviction for this offense will probably not land you in jail. Most prosecutors will in fact dismiss the ticket if you are able to obtain a valid license for court. And even absent that, you are likely to receive court supervision, at least for a first or second offense.


There are also offenses known as driving on a suspended or revoked license. In these situations, your license may not yet be beyond its expiration date but because of a driving offense, or in some cases, series of driving offenses (such as too many tickets), the Secretary of State revokes or suspends your license for a set period of time. There is no easy fix to this, as there is for an expired license.

What’s more, when your license is suspended or revoked, so is your privilege to operate any motor assisted vehicle of conveyances on the Illinois roadways. For example, even though a driver’s license or license plate is not required to operate a riding lawn mower and so you could drive a lawn mower with an expired license, you could not drive the mower on the road with a suspended or revoked license.

It is legal to drive a vehicle on private property even if your license is revoked or suspended. However, the DUI laws apply anywhere in the State of Illinois, including on private property. So you may drive revoked on private property but don’t drive drunk on private (or public) property.

A Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest will result in a driver’s license suspension which is known as a Statutory Summary Suspension (SSS) for registering above .08 or for refusing to give a chemical test. A DUI conviction will result in a driver’s license revocation.

Getting caught driving while an SSS is in effect could be a felony that could result in prison. If your driver’s license is suspended under an SSS or revoked from a DUI conviction and you are arrested for DUI while under the SSS or revocation, it is a felony charge and possible prison.

The suspension period of an SSS will be doubled if you are caught driving. A year will be added to a revocation if you are caught driving while revoked.

Related posts:

Illinois DUI law enhancements for driving suspended or revoked September 2, 2011, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg
What is the difference in Illinois between a suspended and revoked driver’s license? November 2, 2012, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg