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What's the Difference Between A Suspended and Revoked License in Illinois?

Posted by Dominick R. Dolci | Jun 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

When representing our clients in traffic cases, we often get asked whether there is a difference between having a license suspended and having a license revoked.

Are the two the same thing?

Can they be used interchangeably?

For both questions, the answer is no. While license suspension and revocation both ultimately result in a loss of Illinois driving privileges, they are two separate penalties and carry different implications. If you are facing a DUI, traffic violation, underage drinking charge, or any case which may result in your license being suspended or revoked, it is essential to understand the differences between the two.

Fortunately, though, the differences between a suspended license and a revoked license are quite easy to understand when properly explained. For a simple breakdown of license suspension vs. revocation, just keep reading.

Illinois Driver's License Suspension vs. Revocation -- Similar, but Not The Same

In Illinois, your driver's license can be suspended or revoked by the Secretary of State for a variety of reasons, from the civil consequences of a DUI to accumulating unpaid traffic fines. 

Regardless of whether your Illinois license is suspended or revoked, you will face severe limits to your driving privileges which can impact your day-to-day life. However, there are distinct differences between the two, which we will explain below. 

Illinois Driver's License Suspension

When you have a suspended driver's license, what that means is your license is out of service. You still have your registered driver's license, but your driving privileges are "deactivated". While your license is suspended, you cannot legally drive.

We often explain it like this: think of a credit card that you own.

Let's say that you call your provider to suspend or freeze your credit card. You will still be in physical possession of a valid card and be registered as a cardholder. But will you be able to make purchases on it while it is suspended or frozen? No, you won't.

A suspended driver's license works in very much the same way.

To take it one step further, though, there are two different types of license suspension: indefinite and definite.

Definite suspensions are suspensions with an end date. As long as you complete any requirements and pay necessary fees, you can have your license reinstated at the end of the suspension period.

Indefinite suspensions, on the other hand, do not have an end date. The length of the suspension relies on the fulfillment of a specific action, such as paying off traffic tickets. Your suspension will go on indefinitely until you complete the necessary actions.

Illinois Driver's License Revocation

To use the credit card analogy again, having your Illinois driver's license revoked is the same as fully canceling your credit card and account. Once your credit card and account is canceled, you cannot reactivate it or unfreeze it; instead, you would have to apply for a new card if you ever wish to use it again.

Essentially, if your driver's license is revoked, your license is fully canceled and cannot be reinstated. To regain your license and driving privileges, you would need to apply and be approved for a brand new driver's license. To do so, you would need to gain approval from the Illinois DMV, fulfill the required terms for your case, pay off any penalties and fines owed, and complete the official Illinois licensing process.

What Can Cause My Illinois Driver's License to Be Suspended or Revoked?

In Illinois, you may have your driver's license suspended or revoked for many different reasons. The most common include:

Because each suspended or revoked license case is unique and can come from significantly varying causes, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to resolving your license suspension or revocation. In some instances, regaining your driving privileges can be as simple as paying an outstanding fine. In other situations, the process can be far more complex.

If you are facing a complicated Illinois license suspension or revocation case, you may find that the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney can be of enormous help to you.

Contact DuPage County and Illinois Criminal Defense Attorneys

From complex DUI cases to charges of driving on a suspended or revoked license, the attorneys of Dolci & Weiland have helped numerous clients in Illinois successfully fight their cases. We know the steps to take and arguments to make in order to help you regain your driving privileges.

If you or a loved one are struggling with a suspended or revoked license and in need of legal assistance, don't hesitate to contact our office at (630) 261-9098. We are here to help.

About the Author

Dominick R. Dolci

Managing Partner Dominick R. Dolci focuses his practice on criminal defense litigation and civil litigation. Dom graduated from John Marshall law school in 1990. He began his legal training in the Cook County States Attorneys Office where he worked at 26th and California. He then transferred ...


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