DWLS and DWLR in Illinois 2016

Driving With a Suspended/Revoked License in Illinois

by Sami Azhari on February 25, 2016

Many people face the inconvenience of losing their license for a period in their lifetime. Whether it be due to drug or alcohol offense, an accumulation of speeding tickets, or reckless driving charges, license suspension is almost a given in each circumstance. Often, individuals are eligible to lawfully re-instate their license after a period of time or if certain conditions are met, but either are unaware they can do so or have not gotten around to it. As such, there are thousands of drivers on our roads in Illinois who are driving with a suspended license, seemingly unaware of the potentially severe consequences for doing so.

Under 625 ILCS 5/6-303(a), a driver that operates a vehicle without a valid license as a first time offender may be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Most violations are misdemeanors and only become felonies if there is an aggravating circumstance. If the offense becomes a felony, it could result in the possibility of significantly more jail time and associated fines, in addition to continued license suspension or permanent revocation in certain instances. Driving on a suspended/revoked license becomes a felony under the following circumstances:

  • Driving without a BAIID Device during a Statutory Summary Suspension; 625 ILCS 5/6-303(c-3)
  • Driving while revoked or suspended from a previous DUI; 625 ILCS 5/6-303(d)

The term of the subsequent license suspension depends on the initial findings regarding the license suspension. Usually, an offender’s license will be continually suspended for at least the term of the original suspension. So, if the original suspension was for a year, another year will be added on as a punishment. The added license suspension is one way that driving with a suspended license is a unique offense; unlike more “minor” traffic offenses where the punishment is usually a fine and falls under the purview of civil or vehicle code infractions, driving with a suspended license is automatically a crime. Even misdemeanors can affect your driving record and criminal record.

Having a suspended license may affect every aspect of your life. In addition to daily errands, getting to/from work, picking and dropping off children at school, there may be difficulty in appearing for court on time or attending required court-ordered meetings or appointments. Failure to show up to these events due to an inability to drive is not considered a valid excuse. Failing to comply with post-conviction or probationary terms may have as severe consequences as the initial offense and should be taken very seriously, and will likely impact your criminal record in addition to potentially affecting the terms of your license suspension. Driving again is possible in most circumstances, but compliance with all court-ordered terms (including not driving with a suspended license) is necessary for this to even be a possibility after a driving with a suspended license conviction in Illinois.

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