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What are the rules in Illinois about when I can request a driver’s license after a DUI?

For many, the most troublesome part of an arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Illinois is the loss of your driver’s license. A single DUI conviction results in a driver’s license revocation. 625 ILCS 5/6-205(a)(2) This includes out-of-state convictions. 625 ILCS 5/6-206(a)(6)

A revocation causes the termination of your driver’s license and your privilege to operate a motor vehicle upon the Illinois roadways. You must have a hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State if your license is revoked. However, before you can request a full license, you must wait out the revocation period, which can be 1, 5 or 10 years.

A single DUI conviction in Illinois, or an out-of-state conviction that the other state reports to Illinois, causes a revocation for one year (the waiting period). If you have two convictions within 20 years of each other, your revocation will be in effect for five years. A third conviction, no matter how many years it occurs from the second conviction, will result in your being revoked for ten years. 625 ILCS 5/6-208
Because it is a revocation, you do not receive your license back after a year. You must have a driver’s license hearing and meet all the requirements of the Secretary of State. 625 ILCS 5/2-118; 92 Illinois Administrative Code § 1000.10 et. seq.

However, depending upon the status of your statutory summary suspension (SSS), you may be entitled to request a hardship license (RDP). This privilege only applies if you are what is known as a “first offender”, meaning that you have not been arrested for a DUI in the previous five years. 625 ILCS 5/11-500
First offenders may apply for an RDP with the Secretary of State during the SSS. The SSS for a first offender who agrees to give a breath or blood test is six months. It is one year if you do not agree to provide a sample.

Non-first offenders must wait out their entire suspension, a period of time that will be one or three years. The suspension will run for one year if you give a breath or blood sample at the time of the most recent DUI and three years if you refuse. 625 ILCS 5/6-208.1 Even if you have a driver’s license issued by another state, that foreign license will not be valid in Illinois if your driving privileges are revoked here.

If you receive a DUI in Illinois while holding a foreign license, Illinois will report that disposition to your state, even if your state is not a member of the Driver’s License Compact. 625 ILCS § 625 ILCS 5/6-800 et. seq. In addition, despite the fact you may not have been convicted of the DUI but received an SSS, that information may come up when the foreign state runs a nationwide search of your driving record through the Problem Driver Pointer Systems (PDPS) 92 Illinois Administrative Code § 1040.70
A state that issued a foreign license will probably put a “hold” on that license until you clear the Illinois revocation or suspension. This hold can create problems for you either when you attempt to renew an existing foreign license or when you become a new resident of the foreign state or attempt to obtain a driver’s license.

Illinois has a lifetime ban on driving privileges if you have four or more DUI convictions, any of which convictions resulted from an arrest that occurred on or after January 1, 1999. 625 ILCS 5/6-208; 92 Illinois Administrative Code § 1001.420(o) Therefore, while a judge announced to a person she recently sent to prison for his sixth DUI conviction that he would not be able to drive for a long time after he was released from prison, in fact he will never be able to drive again.

When reviewing the revocation periods for one, two or three DUI convictions and analyzing how out-of-state convictions come into play, the Secretary of State only considers those DUI convictions that are reported directly to him from foreign states, and disregards those that PDPS identifies. However, in determining whether the lifetime ban applies, the Secretary must include convictions that are found on PDPS, even if they were not directly reported to Illinois. Girard v. White, 356 Ill. App. 3d 11, 292 Ill. Dec. 376, 826 N.E.2d 517, (1 Dist. 2005) Experience suggests that Illinois’ refusal to lift the revocation will also prevent you from obtaining a driver’s license in nearly all other states.

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