Formal Hearing for Driving Relief

In the last several years a number of changes have taken place in the law, all of which have produced a variety of reasons your driving privileges can be suspended or revoked, including tougher drinking and driving laws. You may be eligible for a temporary “hardship permit” which would allow you to drive under certain terms and conditions even while suspended. You may need to apply for a reinstatement of your full driving privileges, if revoked.

Although there is no legal obligation that you have an attorney to apply for either a hardship permit and/or reinstatement, you should consider carefully the benefits of having an attorney assist you at all formal hearings before the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State has its legal prosecutor there together with the hearing officer who makes findings of fact and recommends granting or denying driving privileges. Any doubt by the Secretary of State as to the applicant’s ability to be a safe and responsible driver is fatal to securing driving relief.

All applications and hearings are usually memorialized and/or recorded; therefore anything that is said or done at a hearing can be used against you at any future proceeding. In addition, if you are denied, various time limits apply before reapplication can be made. Therefore, it is important to know your rights and the specific requirements imposed by the Secretary of State before any action is taken whatsoever.

The Secretary of State (“SOS”) has two types of hearings: “informal” and “formal” hearings.

A “formal” hearing is conducted after written application, before an administrative hearing officer. The “SOS” retains a legal prosecutor to persecute the case at such hearing. In general, however, the “SOS” has the authority to initially decide each case.

This authority allows the SOS to issue a restricted driving permit (“RDP”) or hardship license for limited purposes; such as for: employment, medical treatments and educational purposes during the period of your suspension and/or revocation. An “RDP” limits the operation of a motor vehicle to certain days and times as well as for limited purposes.

Before you can have your driver’s license reinstated you must:

•· Have a clear driving record other than the revocation sanction.

•· Undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation. If an alcohol or drug problem is indicated, proof of treatment must be submitted.

•· Complete an alcohol and drug remedial education program for most applicants. Even if the evaluation does not recommend treatment, the driver is still required to complete a remedial education program.

•· Appear before a Secretary of State hearing officer. For a first offense, an informal hearing may be conducted by visiting a hearing officer at one of the regional drivers’ services facilities. Multiple offenders must request in writing, pay a $50 non-refundable filing fee and attend a formal hearing in Chicago, Joliet, Springfield or Mt. Vernon.

•· Demonstrate during the hearing that public safety will not be endangered if driving privileges are restored. The hearing officer considers the seriousness of the offenses, the offender’s overall driving record and the driver’s remedial efforts.

•· File proof of financial responsibility prior to reinstatement, pay a reinstatement fee, pass the driver’s license examination (written, vision and driving portions) and pay the appropriate application fee.

•· Repeat offenders may pay additional amounts in reinstatement fees.

•· The full burden is on the applicant for driving relief to prove that he or she is a safe and responsible driver. Any doubt by the hearing officer will generally result in a denial of privileges.

Why hire an attorney to represent me before the Illinois Secretary of State?

The benefits are tremendous. Think of it this way, if the State’s interests are being represented by an attorney, wouldn’t it be wise to have YOUR interests similarly protected? The fact is, if you are not properly prepared for what you will encounter at a hearing, the likelihood of getting denied is strong. We have many clients who had first tried going through the process alone, only to discover how difficult and confusing the reinstatement process really is. Besides that, you have now delayed obtaining your driving privileges and the extra lost income and additional expenses by not having a license. Anyone who has gone through an Illinois Secretary of State hearing, whether formal or informal, knows that the SOS’s position is a very tough and rigid one. Having the right attorney represent you will drastically increase the chances of success. However, we strongly believe that your attorney must be committed to preparing you thoroughly. Similarly, the client must be willing to submit themselves to rigorous preparation. Our firm will do all of this and more, but only for ready, committed and deserving clients.

How long does the Illinois driver’s license reinstatement process take?

The answer to this question really depends on the commitment by you, our client. The first step is finding out whether you are eligible for reinstatement. If you are eligible, are you eligible for a full reinstatement, or will you be required to participate in the BAIID (Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device) program? Either way, if your license is revoked, you will need a hearing to secure driving relief. The next step is really up to you. Some clients are ready to go to a hearing within a few weeks. Other clients may take much longer. This really depends on how committed you are to getting your license back. If you will take the time to really understand and appreciate the process and are willing to fully cooperate with us as your attorney, then we often have the flexibility to speed things up. At Hassakis & Hassakis, P.C. we understand how important your license is to you, and that is why we are committed towards giving you as much information as necessary so that you can make an informed decision. Once we explain and you understand the realities of your true situation, the quality and thoroughness of your evaluations and treatment, and a candid agreement and understanding of your proper assessment level, we can direct you to the shortest path to privileges.

How much is this going to cost me?

Unfortunately, the Illinois license reinstatement process can be involved. We are committed to offering our clients the most reasonable fees to help reduce this financial burden. There are several costs besides attorneys’ fees. Those include the $50 filing fee when we agree we are ready to proceed and request a formal administrative hearing. There is also the obligatory uniform report and/or update. Once the client has finally been issued a reinstatement, there are several fees that the client must pay. One is the license reinstatement to the Secretary of State of Illinois in order to obtain his or her license. For those who do not qualify for full reinstatement, there is typically also a BAIID permit and a restricted driving permit. A restricted driving permit will cost the client an additional annual fee. The BAIID installation requires a private agreement with an approved BAIID installer and monthly charges thereafter at varying costs. When explaining these costs, we try to reconfirm with the client the importance of having their driver’s license and also explain that these costs are necessary and cannot be avoided.

What are the formal reinstatement locations?

There are four locations within the state of Illinois where a client can petition for an in-person formal administrative hearing:

Chicago

Office of the Secretary of State

Administrative Hearings Department

17 N. State St., Ste. 1200, 60602

312-793-3722

Joliet

Office of the Secretary of State

Administrative Hearings Department

54 N. Ottawa St., 4th Fl., 60432

815-749-7171

Springfield

Office of the Secretary of State

Administrative Hearings Department

Rm. 212, Howlett Building, 62756

217-782-7065

Mount Vernon

Office of the Secretary of State

Administrative Hearings Department

218 S. 12th St., 62864

618-242-8986

We represent clients ALL OVER the State of Illinois. We prefer to meet with our clients for an extended initial appointment to chart out our plan for securing driving relief. We then roadmap the requirements and timeframes before a call is made and letter sent for purposes of scheduling the formal hearing at the desired site.

What do I have to show the Secretary of State in order to get my Illinois driver’s license back?

Again, the answer is deceivingly simple. You have to show that you have completed any and all treatment recommendations and have resolved your alcohol or drug problems to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State. Most importantly, you have to prove that you will be a safe and responsible driver and will pose no risk to the drivers inside the state of Illinois. While this sounds fairly easy, unfortunately, the vast majority of people who try alone to convince the SOS that they have met these requirements, fail. Both the prosecutor and hearing officer have been specifically trained to identify instances of dishonesty and/or inconsistency in testimony. One “slip up” could likely cost you the opportunity to prevail at your hearing and with additional time delays and money lost.