Fighting Aggressively For You, Your Rights & Your Future Schedule a Free Consultation

Is your license automatically suspended when charged with a DUI in Illinois?

Yes.  The Secretary of State of Illinois will automatically suspend your license when you’ve been charged with a DUI in two separate instances:

(1)   You submit to and fail standardized field sobriety tests given to you by the arresting officer; or

(2)   You refuse to complete the field sobriety tests when prompted by an officer.

In either instance, your license will be suspended by the Secretary of State.  How long that suspension will last is dependent on your driving history.  Today we’ll be examining the process by which a license can be suspended, for how long the suspension may last, and what steps you can take to be able to drive even with a suspended license.


In Illinois, you can be arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  An individual who has a blood alcohol concentration or BAC of over 0.08 is considered, under the law, to be intoxicated.  An individual who produces a sample, whether by breath, blood or urine, of a BAC under 0.08 can still be charged with a DUI if the officer concludes that their normal faculties have been substantially impaired to the point that they are a hazard to themselves and other drivers on the roadway.

The process by which an officer first determines whether or not an individual has ingested alcohol to the point of impairment is through the administration of Field Sobriety Tests (FST).

In Illinois, officers rely upon three different tests in order to make this determination, those being:

(1)   The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN)

(2)   The Walk and Turn Test

(3)   The One Legged Stand Test

Agreeing to participate in these tests, and subsequently failing them, will result in your license being suspended.  Alternatively, if you refuse to participate in these tests all together your license can also be suspended.  In either of these two situations, the officer will more than likely determine that there is enough probable cause to effectuate an arrest. 

You will then be transported to the police station where you will be confronted to participate in a breathalyzer test.  This test is to determine your BAC, and usually comes in the form of producing a breath sample for the machine.  Participating in the test and producing a breath sample which registers over the legal limit will result in a suspension, failure to participate in the test all together will also result in a suspension.


For how long your license is suspended is unique to the circumstances surrounding your case

If your license was suspended as a consequence of Field Sobriety Tests:

6 months if you submitted to FSTs and failed; or

1 year if you refused to participate in FSTs

If your license was suspended due to the breathalyzer test administered:

6 months if you take the test and blow over the legal limit; or

12 month suspension for a first time offender who refused; or

1 year for a second/subsequent offense of failing the test and you previously failed the test in a separate incident in the past five years; or

3 years for a second subsequent offense of refusing the test and you previously refused the test in a separate incident in the past 5 years.

For CDL holders, the suspension carries with it the added threat to your ability to maintain a CDL license.

1st offense: 1 year suspension

2nd offense: Lifetime ban


The eagle eyed viewers amongst you may have noticed that the suspension criteria are separated between those suspensions as a consequence of Field Sobriety Tests and those statutory summary suspensions due to a breathalyzer.

That is because they are in fact separate, and thus, means your license can be suspended by the State for two separate instances of conduct; and thus, give you the opportunity to have your license suspended both for refusing to submit to FST’s and then subsequently failing to submit to a breathalyzer test. 

The suspension(s) of your license will take effect on the 46th day after you received your notice that your license will be suspended. 

You do have the opportunity to challenge the basis of your suspension in Court by filing what’s known as a petition to rescind.  That petition will need to be filed within 90 days of the date you were notified of your suspension.  Once filed, the hearing for that petition must be held within thirty days, or else the petition will automatically be granted.

When filing your petition, you will ask the Judge in your case to rescind your summary suspension if it falls within one of five bases:

(1) Not being properly placed under arrest for an offense as defined in 625 ILCS 5/11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol/Drugs) or a similar provision of a local ordinance, as evidenced by the issuance of a Uniform Traffic Ticket to other forms of charge;

(2) The arresting officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe that [the person was] driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs, or a combination thereof;

(3) Not being properly warned by the arresting officer as provided in 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1(c) of the Illinois Vehicle Code;

(4) Not refusing to submit to and/or complete the required chemical test or tests, pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1 (d) of the Illinois Vehicle Code, upon the request of the arresting officer; and

(5) Submitting to the requested test or tests, but the test sample did not indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

Should you succeed at that hearing, that does not mean that your criminal case goes away.  You can still be charged criminally even though the Court finds that your license was improperly suspended. 


You may be eligible to apply for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) during the term of your suspension.  MDDP’s are only eligible for individuals serving a summary suspension, meaning that they had taken and failed or refused a breathalyzer test.  MDDP’s are not eligible for individuals who refused or failed field sobriety tests. 

In order to obtain an MDDP a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) will need to be installed in your vehicle.  As can be derived from the name, the device only allows the car to start after a breath sample is given showing the occupant is driving outside of the influence of alcohol.  Tampering with the device or having someone other than the driver give a breath sample can lead to serious legal ramifications including, but not limited to, your MDDP being revoked and new criminal charges.

CDL holders are not eligible for any sort of temporary driving privileges during the course of their suspension.

If you have multiple DUI convictions, you are not eligible for a MDDP, however, you may be eligible for a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP).  Much like the MDDP, a BAIID will need to be installed in your vehicle in order to obtain a RDP.  However, unlike the MDDP, you will not have the luxury of freely being able to drive whenever you would like, as the permit will only allow you to operate the vehicle during certain times of the day.