Getting Legal to Drive After a DUI

young woman with hands on eyes sitting depressed in car

Getting Legal to Drive After a DUI

The Road to Reinstatement Starts with an RDP

The DUI Laws in Illinois are tough. Over the years, the breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to find someone legally under the influence of alcohol has been reduced from .10 to .08; the availability of the sentence of “court supervision” to avoid a conviction, and loss of one’s driver’s license, has been limited to once in a lifetime; former misdemeanors have been enhanced to felonies and jail sentences have become prison sentences.

But even a DUI conviction, revocation of their driver’s license and loss of driving privileges will not stop some people from continuing to drive. In most cases, people drive not to defy the law, but to get to work or school, get their kids to daycare or after-school activities, take elderly parents to the doctor, buy groceries and support their families.

The harsh consequence of driving after a DUI conviction is usually a mandatory jail sentence or hundreds of hours of community service. Repeat offenders are often charged with felonies and third-time offenders can be charged with a Class 1 felony, punishable by 4 – 15 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000, with no possibility of probation.

My advice to people whose driver’s licenses have been revoked following a conviction for DUI – Don’t Drive until you get Legal to Drive!

After a DUI conviction, the Secretary of State revokes the defendant’s driver’s license, resulting in a minimum loss of full driving privileges of one year. A second DUI conviction is a minimum loss for 5-years and a third DUI conviction is a minimum 10-year loss of full driving privileges.

However, even a client with multiple DUI convictions can apply to the Secretary of State for a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP) to drive for limited purposes. An RDP could be useful to get back and forth to work, drive as required by employment, drive to alcohol or drug counseling, drive to school, transport children, elder persons or persons with disabilities.

Upon filing a Formal Hearing Request, and applying for an RDP or for full reinstatement of driving privileges, a Formal Hearing will be scheduled before a hearing officer at the Office of the Secretary of State, Administrative Hearings Department, with local offices in Chicago and Joliet. The hearing officer acts as the judge. The applicant or petitioner may be represented by an attorney (strongly advised) and the Secretary of State will also be represented by an attorney.

At the formal hearing, the Secretary of State’s attorney will read the petitioner’s driving history into the record, citing traffic violations and accidents, and emphasizing his or her DUI history, revocation of driving privileges and, if applicable, history of driving while license revoked (indicating a disregard for the law).

The petitioner will explain details regarding prior DUI arrests, past and current patterns of alcohol consumption, and present evidence of successfully completing required hours of alcohol counseling, attendance and active participation at AA meetings or other support/recovery programs. He or she will also present letters from other people attesting to character, abstinence of alcohol for a period of time and involvement with one or more support programs, a letter from the petitioner’s employer verifying employment and any need to drive on the job, and often live witness testimony.

The Secretary of State’s attorney will often challenge this evidence and seek admissions from the petitioner that he or she is an alcoholic, followed by questions about his or her understanding of the disease of alcoholism, their tactics for avoiding alcohol, the existence of a hardship and overall fitness to drive.

In order to obtain an RDP, the petitioner must convince the hearing officer and Secretary of State, by “clear and convincing evidence,” (1) that no alternative means of transportation is reasonably available, (2) that the petitioner will not endanger the public safety or welfare, and (3) that an undue hardship will result if he or she is not issued an RDP.

If the Secretary of State grants the Restricted Driving Permit, the petitioner will be required to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device BAIID) installed in his or her vehicle for at least five years before being eligible for full reinstatement.

It’s not an easy road to get legal to drive after a DUI, and the assistance of an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in conducting Formal Hearings before the Secretary of State is essential to maximize your chances for getting an RDP or full reinstatement. Greg Martucci has successfully represented countless clients over his 30-plus years of practice, in Formal Hearings before the Secretary of State and helped them back on the road to recovering their driver’s license.

If you or someone you know has lost their driving privileges due to one or more DUI convictions, call the Martucci Law Office at 630-980-8333 today to schedule your free initial office consultation and learn more about how we can help you legally drive again.