Process for Applying for a Formal and Informal Hearing in Illinois

Comparing Formal and Informal Hearings in Illinois

by Sami Azhari on December 30, 2017

People in Illinois can have suspensions and revocations on their licenses. A driver can get suspended or revoked for a variety of reasons, such as accumulating traffic convictions, a DUI conviction, or other specific traffic offenses that can lead to such a penalty on their own. This article explores the differences between informal and formal hearings for traffic offenses in Illinois. These administrative hearings deal with driver’s license suspension or revocation for traffic offenses, including driving under the influence (DUI).

Informal Hearings in Illinois

As explained by the Illinois Secretary of State, informal hearings are only appropriate for certain drivers with suspended or revoked licenses, including:

  • Traffic offenses that did not result in death;
  • A single DUI offense; or
  • Minor traffic offenses.

There is no appointment required for an informal hearing. Eligible drivers just need to go to the Secretary of State’s nearest Driver Services facility. All informal hearings are conducted through a walk-in process. As a result of an informal hearing, eligible drivers may be able to secure either a Restricted Driving Permit full reinstatement of their license. It is important to note that just because an informal hearing is conducted does not mean that an alcohol evaluation will not be required, or the result will be immediate. In some instances, the driver will need to conduct an alcohol evaluation and finish any recommended treatment before any driving relief will be given. The common misconception is that informal hearings are quick and immediate when that is not always the case.

Examples of When an Informal Hearing is Necessary

Court supervision is a common disposition to most traffic offenses in Illinois. Most drivers can receive 2 findings of court supervision every 12 months. Court supervisions are not reported to insurance, nor are there any points assigned to your driving record. Once the two opportunities are used, a driver is only eligible for a conviction, which will assign points to your record. If a driver accumulates 3 convictions within 12 months, the point total for the three tickets will determine whether the driver is suspended or revoked, and for how long. For more information on the point totals, read another published article “Traffic Tickets can Lead to Driver’s License Suspension in Illinois.”

Another example is Leaving the Scene of an Accident involving property damage only, pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/11-402. Under this statute, a driver can be suspended if he receives a conviction on this ticket, and the clerk reports that the damages exceed $1,000.

If a driver receives a similar ticket of Leaving the Scene of an Accident involving Personal Injury or Death under 625 ILCS 5/11-401. A finding of guilt to this charge can lead to a mandatory revocation, which would require a formal hearing, described below.

Formal Hearings in Illinois 

As detailed by the Illinois Secretary of State, formal hearings are required for severe traffic offenses, including multiple DUI offenses or accidents resulting in death. Unlike informal hearings, drivers must schedule their formal hearing ahead of time. Furthermore, formal hearings only occur in Springfield, Chicago, Mount Vernon, and Joliet, as opposed to

In order to request a formal hearing, the driver must complete a Formal Hearing Request form and submit a $50 payment via U.S. mail. In that form, the driver must all contact information including:

  • First and last names as well as middle initial, if available;
  • Address of residence, including apartment or suite number;
  • Contact telephone numbers for daytime and nighttime;
  • Day, month and year of birth;
  • Illinois driver’s license number;
  • Social Security number;
  • Date of last arrest for alcohol or drugs; and
  • Email address, if available.

There are multiple people involved in a hearing. There is a hearing officer appointed by the Secretary of State, the attorney for the Secretary of State, the Petitioner, and Petitioner’s attorney. At the actual hearing, an officer will review arguments and evidence. This hearing officer is allowed to render decisions on motions, issue subpoenas, question witnesses, and determine the legality of different kinds of evidence. After considering the arguments and evidence, the hearing officer makes a formal decision, adhering strictly to Administrative Review guidelines under 735 ILCS 5/Art. III. It is crucial to have an attorney for these hearings. A well prepared attorney can review all documents and previous evaluations and prepare a petitioner for a direct examination as well as any potential cross examinations.

If a petitioner’s request for driving relief is denied, there is a waiting period. To challenge a hearing officer’s decision, the driver must wait 90 days before requesting a new hearing. That is why it is crucial for drivers to arrive at a formal hearing with all required information. If a driver cannot prepare adequately for a formal hearing, they are encouraged to contact the Secretary of State and withdraw their request. While the driver forfeits the $50 fee, they will not have to wait 90 days to request a new hearing.

Do You Need Legal Help from an Experienced Illinois DUI Attorney?

Whether you are dealing with informal or formal hearings for driver’s license suspension or revocation, there are many benefits to retaining an experienced Illinois DUI attorney. With a skilled legal advocate in your corner, you will be able to mount an effective defense. Operating out of Chicago and Rolling Meadows, Illinois, Sami Azhari has time-tested experience handling DUI and other traffic offenses. If you need legal help, contact Sami Azhari at your earliest convenience to start planning your defense.

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