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Do You Lose Your License Immediately After a DUI?

Updated on March 15, 2023 → Under

If you've been stopped for a DUI in the state of Illinois, it can be a scary event, especially if it is your first DUI. Drunk driving can quickly lead to jail time, loss of driving privileges can affect your driving record and other charges besides just drunk driving charges. You can be charged with reckless driving, as well as child endangerment if there was a minor in the vehicle at the time of your arrest.

Having DUI charges on your criminal record can also lead to higher insurance rates from your insurance company. On top of all of the other issues that come with an arrest, you are also very likely to lose your license after a DUI.

Questions like "Am I allowed to drive home after being released?", "How expensive is this going to be?" or "Where is my car?" can add even more anxiety and stress onto you after your arrest. You may have even been offered a bad plea bargain while in custody, if officers don't believe they have the evidence to convict you, that may seem tempting but is actually a bad idea to accept.

It can be hard to figure out where to turn for sound legal advice, but an experienced defense attorney, such as the excellent attorneys on the criminal defense team at Dohman Law Group, can help you fight your license suspension and criminal charges every step of the way. 

What Happens During a DUI Stop?

When you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, it is important to stay calm. Panicking or getting angry can cause you to be charged with additional offenses, such as interfering with a police investigation or resisting arrest, even assaulting a police officer in extreme cases. If a police officer believes you are under the influence of alcohol, they will ask for your license, registration, and proof of insurance first. They will then request that you submit to a breath alcohol test (breathalyzer) to test your blood alcohol concentration or a field sobriety test. 

Both field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests are often inaccurate, even when administered correctly. Most studies have found these tests to be about 50% inaccurate, meaning half the time these tests are incorrect, due to police errors. Because of this, it is perfectly legal,  and sometimes even suggested by DUI attorneys, that you refuse to submit to these tests.

Lose Your License After a DUI

You should be aware, however, that in the state of Illinois, refusing either or both of these tests will lead to an immediate DUI arrest and later to blood alcohol testing via chemical testing. These chemical tests, normally via a blood sample, tend to happen several hours to even a day after your arrest and can help your case if there is no longer alcohol in your system when this blood test is performed. 

If you refuse these field tests, or you fail the field tests, you will be placed under arrest and charged with a DUI. It is imperative that you request to have someone pick up your car from your arrest location. If you do not, the police will impound your motor vehicle, and you will be forced to pay towing and impound fees to receive it back. This can add hundreds of dollars to your DUI price tag. 

Be Prepared: What to do After You get a DUI

Can I Drive After my DUI Arrest?

In the state of Illinois, you can drive again as soon as you are released from the police station, as long as you were in possession of a valid license at the time of your arrest. Your license will be confiscated by the police during your arrest, but you will receive paperwork during your release from jail that has a small white piece of paper called a "Notice of Statutory Summary Suspension".

You will need to have this paper on you at all times while driving, in lieu of your confiscated license. However, it's not quite as simple as just spending a night in jail. Your license will only continue to be valid in Illinois for the first 46 days after your DUI Arrest. After the 46 day period of time, your license will be suspended automatically. 

You are able to file a petition to stop your license from being suspended. The sooner you file this petition, the more likely you are to be successful. This petition should be filed within 1-3 days after your arrest, for the best results. Contacting a criminal defense attorney quickly to file your petition makes it easier to find witnesses and gather evidence for your case, and increases your odds of beating your license suspension. 

Your license suspension is a separate case from your DUI charges. While a DUI is a criminal offense, your license suspension is an administrative suspension, or charge, and must be handled separately from your DUI case. During your administrative license suspension hearing, your attorney will be able to present evidence as to why your license should not be suspended. 

How Long Will my License be Suspended?

Your administrative driver license suspension will depend on whether you are a first-time offender, or if you have already been charged with one or more DUIs in the last 5 years. The 1st offense license suspension period is 6 months. If you refused blood alcohol or field sobriety testing you will face a 12-month license suspension, even if it was a first-time offense. 

For a second-time or other subsequent offense, the minimum suspension time is 12 months. If you refuse field sobriety testing, or a Breathalyzer, at the time of your arrest, the period of suspension is a minimum of 3 years. 

My License has Been Suspended, now What?

If you do not file a petition to fight your suspension, or your petition fails, it's not the end of the road. There are other options after loss of license, depending on the circumstances of your arrest and case. If you are a first-time DUI offender, or if this is your first offense in over 5 years, you may be eligible to have a monitoring device placed in your car so that you can regain some driving privileges during your license suspension period. A restricted license or temporary driving permit may be your best option after your driving privilege suspension. 

Through a temporary license called a Monitoring Device Driving Permit, or MDDP, you will be eligible to drive again during your suspension, though there are requirements. You will be required to have a BAIID (breath alcohol ignition interlock device) installed in your car by certified Breathalyzer technicians, and you will be required to pay for the installation and the upkeep of this device.


With a BAIID installed in your car, you will have to provide a breath sample every time you start your vehicle, and sometimes while you are already driving. These ignition interlock devices also take pictures and/or videos when in use, to make sure that the driver of the vehicle is the person performing the breath alcohol test. If any alcohol is detected, or the driver has someone else perform the test, it is reported to the Office of the Secretary of State in Illinois, and your temporary license can be revoked.

You may also be eligible for an RDP, or restricted driver's permit. Unlike the MDDP, the RDP is available even if this isn't your first DUI offense. To be eligible for an RDP, you must prove that being unable to drive will cause undue hardship for you.

This can be proved through many means, but normally requires circumstances such as a job requiring you to drive, needing to drive in order to care for minor children, elderly persons, or disabled persons. To receive an RDP, you will most likely need to complete an alcohol treatment program or alcohol counseling, and you will be required to pay for and receive a BAIID for your vehicle just like you would if you were receiving an MDDP instead of a hardship license. 

Learn More: How to get Your License Back After a DUI

DUI Offenses Aren't the End of the Road

If you've been arrested for a DUI, your first step after release should be to contact an experienced defense lawyer and start the process of petitioning the court to stay your automatic license suspension at your administrative hearing. At Dohman Law Group, we take our attorney-client relationship seriously. Our goal is always to win the best possible outcome for our clients.

During your initial consultation, you will meet with an experienced DUI lawyer who will discuss your arrest circumstances and police report with you, and get to work right away building case-specific DUI license defense strategies customized to you. Whether it's through gathering evidence, a plea bargain, or alcohol treatment counseling, our team will make sure you avoid all of the harsher consequences you could be facing. Call us at (847) 616-9993 to schedule a free consultation.

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