When you get your driver's license the first time, it is made very clear that if you abuse the privilege, it could be taken from you.
We know that DUI convictions, reckless driving, and drag racing can all result in the temporary, or even permanent loss of a license, but did you know that you can receive a suspended license for traffic tickets too?
The state of Illinois takes poor or dangerous driving habits seriously. Three convictions for moving violations within one year comes with a mandatory license suspension when over the age of 21.
It's a way of encouraging people to drive safely, but at the same time the City of Chicago and other municipalities also generate hundreds of millions in revenue from traffic tickets each year. Cities use license suspension as the carrot-and-stick to prevent non-payment of tickets.
If you are wondering how you lost your license, and how to get it back, here is a brief overview of how it works in the state of Illinois.
What Tickets Count Towards Your Suspension
Legally, you can get three moving violations with convictions before you lose your license. The suspension is automatic if all three occurred within 12 calendar months.
Chapter 11 of the Illinois Vehicle Code describes the list of these violations, which does include speeding tickets.
How do you know if your ticket could cost you your license? Look at the citation, and if it features an "11," then you received a Chapter 11 moving violation.
There are other violations not found in Chapter 11 that count towards suspension as well. For example, driving without a license is a moving violation.
Equipment violations do not add to your tally though. If you have a cracked windshield, or receive a seatbelt ticket, then it will not count towards your license suspension.
Of course, getting a ticket isn't enough. You also need to plea or be found guilty of the citation. If you believe a ticket was unwarranted or unjust, then you can fight the citation in traffic court. If you win, then the conviction doesn't count towards a supervision.
Other Ways to Lose Your License
Moving violations are the most common way to lose your license. However, the state can also suspend it when you have additional tickets that go unpaid, such as parking tickets and tollway fines
Don't let those unpaid tickets pile up, or the Secretary of State will come for your license, and a $70 reinstatement fee.
How Long Will My Suspension Be?
Unlike revocation, suspensions automatically end after a set period, so you don't need to appear before the Secretary of State to ask for your license back.
What to Do When You Get a Suspended License for Traffic Tickets
Traffic tickets are sometimes unfair and always expensive. Pleading to three in a year isn't as uncommon as you think. Few people can afford to lose their license, even temporarily.
The good news is, you won't lose your license without knowing about it. The Secretary of State sends out a letter when the office suspends your license.
Fortunately, you can get it back.
Before you do anything though, you'll need to resolve any outstanding citations and fines.
Then, you have a few options.
Prevent a Suspension with a Disposition of Supervision
You may not need to receive a traffic conviction if you have had very few tickets in the past.
The minimum sentence for traffic tickets is court supervision. It allows you to remove the charge from your record when you agree to complete 60-120 days of the program.
Usually, you'll need to avoid any new tickets, complete traffic school, and pay both your fine, and your court costs.
You can ask for this if you have had two or fewer moving violations in the past 12 months before receiving the most recent ticket.
If your violation was severe, such as speeding in a school zone, then you might not be eligible.
Fight Your Ticket at Trial/Contest Your Suspension
Is your ticket or suspension due to an error?
Your first step is to fight the ticket in traffic court to prevent it from becoming part of your record. If you are successful here, then no further action is needed.
If the state already suspended your license, you can file a written request for an administrative hearing to contest it. You will likely want a lawyer to do this on your behalf.
You might also consider applying for a Hardship Permit. These permits exist for those who can't get to work, school, or the doctor, without their car. However, you'll need to provide evidence of your hardship, and proof that you aren't dangerous, in a hearing.
Don't Drive on a Suspended License
Tempting though it might be, driving on a suspended license leads to more trouble. If you are caught and found guilty, you could:
- Receive a longer suspension
- Get your license revoked
- Go to jail
- Lose your car
If you are going through your first suspension, talk to a lawyer familiar with the process to learn about your options.
Do you have questions about the loss of your license? Get in touch today to learn more about your options when you get a suspended license for traffic tickets.