Driving on a Suspended License in Illinois

Criminal charges for operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license.

By , Attorney · University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated January 05, 2021

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 In general, a suspension means the state has temporarily withdrawn your privilege to drive.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, on the other hand, typically 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
  • are convicted of fleeing from 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.

License revocation is mandatory for certain offenses, including:

Additionally, 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. Suspension can also result for reasons unrelated to driving, such as if you are delinquent in paying child support.

Reinstating Your License

The period of time your license is suspended or revoked will vary depending on the circumstances. When your period of revocation or suspension has ended, you must pay a reinstatement fee to regain your license. The amount of the fee depends, in part, on the reason that your license was suspended or revoked and typically ranges from $70 to $500.

You may have to meet other conditions (like paying child support) 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 case. Your charge and the possible penalties might 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.

If your offense is a petty offense, the penalties include a maximum $500 fine. Offenses that are class A misdemeanors carry:

  • $75 to $2,500 in fine, and
  • up to a year in jail.

Under other conditions, you may be charged with a felony for driving while suspended or revoked, the most serious category of crime in Illinois. Examples of reasons for felony charges include having a specified number of previous convictions and driving while your license is revoked due to a conviction relating to reckless homicide. Felony fines can be as much as $25,000. The length of possible prison sentences for a felony in Illinois depends 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.

In general, these sentences might not indicate the amount of time you are required to actually serve in jail or prison. In many cases, the judge will suspend all or part of the sentence and place the offender on probation.

However, in some situations, you might 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 might face a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail or 300 hours of community service.

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.

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