In Illinois, the clerk of the circuit court serves, for the most part, as the record keeper for the judges. The circuit clerk should not be confused with the county clerk, who maintains, among other things, voting records, birth and death certificate and other personal information.
As far as an Illinois DUI is concerned, a critical function of the circuit clerks is to report DUI convictions to the Illinois Secretary of State. 625 ILCS 5/6-204 Once the Secretary of State is notified of a DUI outcome, his job is to record it to the driver’s Illinois driving record, which is known as a driving “abstract”.
At this point, one caveat is appropriate. The clerk does not report dismissed tickets to the Secretary of State. So if for instance you are charged with speeding and you successfully contest the ticket, either by being found not guilty or persuading the judge to dismiss the charge without a trial, the Secretary of State would have no record of your ever being charged.
The situation can be different with a DUI charge. That’s because when you are arrested for possible DUI, there are two tracks to the case.
You will be charged with DUI, which is a criminal offense, meaning that you can be sent to jail and or be fined. The lowest level of DUI charge can result in a fine of up to $2,500 or 364 days in the county jail, or both.
If the DUI charge is dismissed, the fact you were charged will not show up on your abstract. However, when you are arrested for DUI, you may also incur a driver’ license suspension in connection with the outcome of the request by the police officer that you submit to a chemical test, either of your breath or blood. 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2
If there is a test and the results are at least .08 or if you are asked to test and refuse, your license will be suspended for a period of time that ranges from 6 months to 3 years. This suspension is called a “statutory summary suspension” or SSS.
The SSS is automatic unless you obtain a court order that rescinds (removes) it from your record. Absent this rescission, the SSS stays in effect even if the DUI is thrown out.
That is due to the fact that the SSS is an administrative sanction (it only impairs your license, not your money or freedom and it’s only temporary) so the state does not have to prove you guilty of the DUI. The mere fact you had a .08 or higher or refused to blow is all they need.
The circuit clerk sometimes fails to report DUI convictions to the Secretary of State. In that case the only evidence of the DUI arrest would be the SSS. But if you are revoked due to another DUI conviction and must have a hearing with the Secretary of State, when you request the hearing, his office will contact the circuit clerk to find out what happened to the unreported DUI ticket for which there is an associated SSS. At that point, another revocation will be entered on your driving record.
Is DUI court different from a driver’s license suspension hearing at the Illinois Secretary of State? Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, December 14, 2012
Waiting period for Illinois driver’s license hearings after a DUI Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, November 5, 2010