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The Civil Suspension Associated With the Illinois DUI Charge

Almost every DUI charge has connected to it a civil suspension of one's driving privileges.  In Illinois the suspension is called a Statutory Summary Suspension or SSS.  This SSS begins the 46th day after a notice of the suspension is received by the motorist.  In most cases the notice is given at the same time one bonds out of jail on the DUI.  In some cases involving blood or urine testing the results won't be returned for 45 days or more.  In those cases the notice is not sent until the police receive the forensic testing results on the blood or urine sample.  Whatever date the notice is received triggers an automatic suspension of driving privileges 46 days after the notice is given. 

The period of SSS varies depending upon two variables.  Whether the person is considered a "first offender" or not.  And whether the person submits to testing or not.  A "first offender" for SSS purposes have nothing to do with whether you have had a prior DUI in your life.  What that term means is whether you have had a DUI or similar offense or a SSS or similar suspension within the last five (5) years.  If you had another DUI 6 years prior you would still be considered a first offender for SSS purposes.  It doesn't mean you will prevail on the DUI criminal charge.  If you are a first offender your driver's license will have a one year SSS imposed if you refused testing.  If you are a first offender and submitted to a test with results over the legal limit you will suffer a six month SSS.  If you are not a first offender and refuse you will incur a three year SSS.  If you are not a first offender and submit to testing over the legal limit you will incur a one year SSS.  Despite whatever period of SSS occurs it has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on whether your license will be revoked if you are convicted of a DUI.  The SSS runs independently of a revocation.  And, if you are a subsequent offender who is convicted of DUI you will suffer a revoked license.

There is a method to contest the SSS.  Its called a Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension.  The Petition is created by statute and must contain all issues the motorist wishes to present to the court during the hearing.  The issues can be:

1.  Did the arresting officer have reasonable grounds to stop the motorist.

2.  Did the arresting officer have probable cause to arrest the motorist for DUI.

3.  Did the arresting officer read the Warning to Motorist to the motorist prior to requesting they submit to testing.

4.  After the WTM was read to the motorist did they submit to a test, and if so, was the result over the legal limit.

Those issues are the only issues that may be presented to the circuit court judge hearing the case.  There are a lot of cases that have discussed these issues. 

The burden to win the Petition to Rescind is upon the motorist.  So the burden of proof is reversed from the criminal charge of DUI.  Its very difficult to win these hearings for that very reason.  I estimate we win only about 10% of all DUI cases.  The main issue I pursue in such a hearing is whether the officer had reasonable grounds or probable cause.  Since most departments have dash cams installed in their squad cars its easy to evaluate a client's chance of success.  If I think I have a good issue to pursue I request an immediate hearing for my client.  If one loses the hearing it doesn't make the suspension period any worse than it would have been otherwise.

Issues I look at closely during the reasonable grounds portions of the traffic stop are whether a visible traffic violation is apparent from the video.  The officer can stop a vehicle without witnessing a violation (from an anonymous report) but it is hard to prove alcohol or another substance impaired a motorist's ability to drive a car without an apparent traffic violation.  Improper lane use is the most common reason to conduct a traffic stop when a motorist is arrested for DUI.  Other issues that are important to discern in the video are whether the client exhibits any signs of impairment such as slurred speech, difficulty understanding the officer or in communicating with that officer.  Failure to maintain balance, or other erratic behaviors are important to look for.  Lastly, the administration and performance on the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests created by NHTSA are important to analyze.  I have the student manual and know the proper way to administer and interpret the "tests" by heart.  Closely analyzing each of the three tests is very important.

If you succeed in your petition to rescind SSS you  won't have a suspension on your driver's license.  You also won't need to pay for a MDDP or BAIID or a reinstatement fee.  If you don't succeed however you will need to apply for a MDDP immediately. 


In Illinois a motorist who suffers a SSS can still drive legally.  As of January 1, 2016 the motorist can continue to drive as long as they immediately return the application for MDDP they receive from the Secretary of State with the Confirmation of Suspension.  Typically they receive the Confirmation about two weeks after the DUI arrest.  The instructions on how to complete the form are printed on it and must be followed.  It takes 3 - 4 weeks after that application is mailed or faxed in before the permit is received.  the permit requires a person to install a BAIID (Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device) in their vehicle.  The Secretary of State has detailed instruction on their website how to arrange for installation of the BAIID with approved vendors.  A link to that portion of their site is:http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/BAIID/home.html.  The MDDP costs $30.00 per month for each month of suspension.  Installation of the BAIID, monthly changeout, and end of suspension removal all costs about $75.00 per month.  Adding it all together, the ability to drive during the SSS will costs approximately $750.00 for a six month suspension and $1,500.00 for a one year suspension.  At the end of the suspension you must also pay a reinstatement fee of $250.00 for first time offenders. 

Certain counties allow some defendants to pay a higher fine in exchange for a recission of the suspension.  The fine is quite a bit higher but the client can avoid installing the BAIID in their vehicle, paying for the device, and paying a reinstatement fee ($250).  The best option is always to buy out the suspension. 

This body of law is very complex as it oftentimes references statutes, administrative regulations, national publications, and case law.  Only an experienced DUI attorney can get you the best outcome in every situation.

Brian L. Polinske
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