I often see it reported in the newspapers that someone has been convicted of a DUI and had their license “revoked for one year.” In fact, if your license is revoked as a result of a DUI conviction, your license will be revoked indefinitely. You become eligible for reinstatement after one year (if you only have one DUI conviction, its five years before being eligible if you have had two convictions, ten if you have had three, and never if you have had four or more).
I emphasize the word eligible because the Secretary of State is not obligated to return anyone’s license. They will only do so, upon application for reinstatement and after a hearing, at which time it must be determined that the person will be safe and responsible. This is not an easy thing to prove.
Today I received notification that two of my clients were granted reinstatement. One of them had been revoked since 1998 — thirteen years ago! He had not felt ready to appear before the Illinois Secretary of State and make his case for reinstatement until recently. So today’s lesson: once your license is revoked, it does not come back automatically; you have to earn it.