Driving on a Suspended License in Illinois
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Speeding tickets, delinquent child support payments, and alcohol-related offenses are just some of the reasons that Illinois residents may find their driver’s licenses suspended or revoked. In general, a suspension means the state has temporarily withdrawn your privilege to drive. A revocation often means your license has been terminated. If you drive while your license is suspended or revoked, you risk being charged with a serious crime.
Reasons for Suspension or Revocation
Your license may be suspended or revoked for a range of reasons in Illinois, such as if you:
- have been convicted of three or more traffic offenses within 12 months
- are repeatedly involved in motor vehicle collisions
- cause an accident that results in injury or death
- drive with a suspended or revoked license
- are convicted of fleeing a police officer, and
- are convicted of certain offenses that occurred while you were in control of a vehicle, including certain sex crimes and drug offenses. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/6-206.)
In addition, license revocation is mandatory for certain offenses, including:
- reckless homicide if a vehicle was used in the offense
- driving under the influence of alcohol
- commission of a felony if a vehicle was used, or
- leaving the scene of an accident involving death or injury (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/6-205.)
Your license may be suspended if you fail to pay a certain number of parking tickets or traffic violations, or fail to pay or evade a certain number of tolls. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/6-306.5(a), 6-306.7(a).)
A license may also be suspended for reasons unrelated to driving, such as if you are delinquent in child support. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/7-702(a).) Your license may be suspended or revoked for many other reasons.
Reinstating Your License
The period of time your license is suspended or revoked may vary. When your period of revocation or suspension has ended, you must pay a reinstatement fee to regain your license. The fee will depend in part on the reason that your license was suspended or revoked, and may range from $70 to $500. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 6-118(b).)
You may have to meet other conditions or pay other fees before you regain your driver’s license.
Charges for Driving After Suspension or Revocation
Driving while your license is suspended or revoked is a crime. You may be charged with a petty offense, a Class A misdemeanor, or a felony, depending on the circumstances of your charge. Your charge may be more serious if you have previous convictions for driving after suspension or revocation, or if your license was suspended or revoked for certain reasons.
In many situations, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 6-303(a).) The maximum penalties for a Class A misdemeanor may include
- a $2,500 fine, and
- up to a year in jail. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5-4.5-55(a) and (e).)
Under certain conditions, you may be charged with a petty offense, which is a less serious charge than a misdemeanor or felony. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 6-601.) It carries a maximum $500 fine. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 6-601.)
Under other conditions, you may be charged with a felony, the most serious category of crime in Illinois. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 6-303.) Examples of reasons for felony charges for driving after suspension or revocation include a specified number previous convictions and driving while your license is revoked due to a conviction relating to reckless homicide. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 6-303(b) and(d-e).)
Fines for felony convictions may be up to $25,000. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5-4.5-50(b).) Possible prison sentences for a felony in Illinois may depend on the class of felony. Your sentence may be in one of the following ranges:
- for a Class 1 felony, between four years and 15 years
- for a Class 2 felony, between three years and seven years
- for a Class 3 felony, between two years and five years, and
- for a Class 4 felony, between one year and three years. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5-4.5-30(a), 5-4.5-35(a), 5-4.5-40 (a), 5-4.5-45(a).)
In general, sentences may not indicate the amount of time you are required to actually serve in jail or prison. Instead, they may reflect a sentence that will be suspended while you are on probation.
In some situations, you may face a minimum sentence. For example, if you are convicted of driving after suspension or revocation, and the reason for the loss of your license was a reckless homicide conviction, you may face a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail or 300 hours of community service. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 6-303(b-5).)
If your license is suspended or revoked for certain other violations, including driving under the influence, you may face a minimum sentence of 10 days in jail or 30 days of community service if you are convicted of driving after suspension or revocation. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 6-303(c).)
In certain other situations, you may incur a 180-day minimum sentence. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 6-303(d-3).)
Legal Help for Driving After Suspension or Revocation Charges
If you are charged with driving after suspension or revocation in Illinois, you should consider hiring an attorney. A conviction could result in steep fines and even jail time. Your ability to keep employment, go to school, retain insurance, and do many other things may be affected. While the law provides maximum and sometimes minimum sentences, if you are convicted your sentence will be shaped in part by the view that your local prosecutors and judges have of the crime. An attorney who is familiar with these cases in your area will be able to advise you about your specific situation.