Exclusively Practicing Criminal Defense for
Two Decades
David Olshansky

Suspended or Revoked License

A large number of road accidents and fatalities take place across the state of Illinois each year. To ensure safe driving conditions, the law enforcement agencies apply strict driving guidelines that must be followed by drivers.

Driving in a reckless or illegal manner can get a person’s driving license suspended or revoked. Some of the most common reasons for suspension of a driving license include the following.

  • Driving without Insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
  • Excessive violations of the driving regulations
  • Parking without a valid ticket
  • Failing to pass auto emission tests
State Legislation

Laws relating to driving license are covered under 625 ILCS 5/Ch 6 and various subsections. These laws cover driving safety responsibility, uninsured vehicles, DUIs, SOS hearings, reciprocity and types of relief available in law.

Mandatory Suspension

Driving license suspension is covered under 625 ILCS 5/6-306. The driving license for the owner of a registered vehicle can be suspended if he or she

  • fails to pay a fine or penalty resulting from 10 or more illegal parking violations
  • has made 5 or more traffic violations, automated speed violations or a combination of the two
  • is in default of a payment by more than 14 days

The SOS must notify the license owner about the intent to suspend driving privileges. If the owner fails to pay the fines or does not request a hearing, the suspension will occur automatically.

Mandatory Revocation

License revocation is covered under 625 ILCS 5/6-205. The license can be revoked for in the case of conviction for certain offenses such as;

  • Convictions for 3 reckless driving charges within 12 months
  • Use of a motor vehicle in a felony
  • Leaving or fleeing an accident that results in injury or death of a person
  • Illegal racing
  • Driving or being in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
  • Assaulting a person with a motor vehicle or committing any other serious offense

A report of the listed offenses will result in an immediate revocation of the license. The driver can contest the revocation through an administrative hearing.

Penalties for Driving Without a Valid License

Under 625 ILCS 5/6-303, it is unlawful for a person to drive or be in control of a motor vehicle when their driver’s license and privilege is revoked or suspended.

The penalties for violating this law depend on the reasons why the driver’s license has been suspended or revoked.

If the driver’s license has been suspended or revoked for non-aggravating circumstance, such as failure to pay fines or parking violations, the period of suspension or revocation can be extended by the SOS.

A first violation of driving without a valid license is a Class A misdemeanor and can be punished by up to one year in prison.

A second violation is a Class A misdemeanor with additional community service and not eligible for court supervision.

A third violation is a Class A misdemeanor with mandatory community service of 30 days or 300 hours.

A person caught driving whose license has been suspended due to reckless homicide or a similar offense can be charged with a Class 4 felony on the first violation, punishable by 1 – 3 years in prison.

A second violation is charged as Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 – 7 years in prison. A third violation results in Class 1 felony punishable by 4 – 15 years in prison.


Getting your driving license revoked or suspended can cause a lot of problems. It can affect your daily life if you travel to and from work on a personal vehicle.

The license is not automatically reinstated after the period of suspension. Reinstatement will only occur after a hearing where the SOS will determine if the driver poses a threat to public safety.

A driver can normally apply for reinstatement one year after the effective date of revocation except for aggravating circumstances. A driver under the age of 21 can only apply for a restricted license after the period of revocation is complete. He or she must complete one year of restricted permit before being granted a full license.

Examples and Court Cases

In a recent case, a man from Rolling Meadows was sentenced to 16 years in prison after his 16th DUI conviction.

Christopher Clingingsmith had pleaded guilty to the charges of DUI and driving with a revoked license before the county judge. According to the department, he had a long history of driving violations, dating back all the way to 1982.

The man was arrested after he struck a party bus in June, 2017 and left the scene. The police arrested him a short time later and found out that he had been driving under influence. They also discovered that his license had been revoked three months prior to the incident.

The man had been charged with a Class X felony which carried a maximum penalty of 30 years.

While it is an offense to be driving with a revoked or suspended license, a person cannot be stopped or asked for identification if the police have no reasonable grounds for the stop.

For example, consider the case of a man who was recently stopped by the police and arrested for driving without a license. The police had originally suspected that the number plate on his vehicle was forged. A background check revealed that the number plate was authentic but the owner of the vehicle, a woman, was wanted for a traffic violation.

The police stopped the car and approached the suspect, immediately realizing that he was not the owner of the vehicle. They asked him for the license which turned out to be suspended and arrested him for driving without a valid license.

The defense argued in court that the police did not have the right to ask for the man’s license when they realized that he was not the owner who was wanted for the traffic violation. The judge agreed with the defense and the case was dismissed.

Possible Legal Defenses

The 4th amendment protects citizens from illegal stops and searches. The defense provided by the US constitution can be used in charges of driving with a revoked license. As long as the defendant is driving lawfully, the police have no legal grounds to stop and ask him or her to produce the license. A good defense team can get the charges dismissed if the stop was illegal to begin with.

Under some circumstances, a person can also use the defense of driving without a license due to an emergency. For instance, if a person has to take a family member to the hospital, and they get stopped for speeding, they can argue that they were driving without the license due to health emergency.