Driving with Suspended License

Around 500,000 people in Illinois have suspended or revoked driver’s licenses. And according to the Illinois Secretary of State, more than 30,000 of these people are convicted each year for driving while their licenses are suspended or revoked. Driving with a suspended or revoked license is a serious offense in Illinois, but there are calls to make these laws even harsher.

The data shows that people who choose to drive without licenses are at a heightened risk of causing or being involved in fatal crashes. According to research performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, around 20% of all fatal crashes involve at last one unlicensed driver, and this proportion is steadily growing larger. Between 2007 and 2009, unlicensed drivers were involved in crashes that took more than 21,000 lives across the country.

If you get charged with driving with a suspended license, you should hire a skilled Chicago traffic attorney to handle your defense. Depending on the reason for your license’s suspension or revocation, a conviction for driving without a license could involve serious jail time and heavy fines. In addition, the Secretary of State will re-suspend your license for the amount of time for which it was originally suspended. If your license was revoked, you will not be able to apply for a new one until 1 year after your conviction.

What Are the Penalties for Driving with a Revoked or Suspended License?

The penalties for driving without a license are listed 625 ILCS 5/6-303, which states that it illegal for people to drive or to be in physical control of a motor vehicle when their driver’s license or permit is revoked or suspended. Specifically, the penalties for committing this offense are as follows:

  • When your license was suspended or revoked because of moving violations or a failure to pay fines — You will get charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, involving a potential jail sentence of 364 days and/or fines of up to $2,500. After your second violation, you will need to perform a minimum of 100 hours of community service, which increases to 300 for a third conviction. Upon your fourth conviction, the court may order the confiscation of your license plates or the immobilization of your vehicle.
  • If your license was suspended or revoked because of a conviction for DUI or leaving the scene of the accident — Your first violation will be charged as a Class A Misdemeanor, involving a maximum punishment of 364 days in jail and a $2,500. You will have to serve 10 days in jail or perform 30 hours of community service. For subsequent violations, you will face Class 4 Felony charges. If convicted, you could face a prison sentence of up to 3 years and a maximum fine of $25,000.
  • When your license got suspended or revoked because of a reckless homicide conviction — The first violation is charged as a Class 4 Felony, and a conviction will result in a sentence of up to 3 years and no less than 30 days (which you can replace by 300 hours of community service). The Secretary of State will not issue a new license until 3 years after the conviction. Your second violation is considered a Class 2 Felony involving a maximum sentence of 3 to 7 years. A third and any subsequent convictions are charged as Class 1 Felonies carrying prison sentences between 5 and 15 years. Any felony conviction may involve a fine of anywhere up to $25,000.

Lawmakers Consider Harsher Punishment for Driving Without a License

The penalties outlined above are serious, but according to Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel: “It seems to be a big joke.” He wants these punishments to be even stricter than the current system, which he describes as “get a ticket, go into the station, bond out, get your car and drive away.”

State Representative Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, has echoed Chief Weitzel’s calls for mandatory felony charges for some categories of drivers who get caught operating their vehicle without a license. They propose mandatory Class 4 Felony charges and a 10-year license suspension for first-time offenders who have had 3 DUI convictions within the last 7 years. The same punishment would be in store for people convicted 4 times within a 10 year period of driving without a license.

Even without these additional mandatory sentences, a conviction for driving without a license can have serious repercussions. The fines and jail time aside, having a conviction on your criminal record can keep you from finding a job or qualifying for a professional license. In addition, the added suspension of your driver’s license will make your commute to work or to school much more difficult.

How a Chicago Traffic Attorney Can Help

When you face the criminal justice system, you benefit from unalienable rights under the US Constitution. Your Chicago criminal defense lawyer will be able to help you assert these rights throughout the criminal traffic process to ensure that you get the best outcome possible. In addition, your lawyer can use his or her advocacy skills to obtain a verdict of not guilty, or negotiate for a lesser sentence if you get convicted.

At O’Meara Law LLC, we’ve built our reputation on giving each and every one of our clients an effective defense to their charges through strategic legal thinking and aggressive advocacy. Through our unwavering commitment to client satisfaction, we ensure that everyone who comes through our door is treated as an individual—not just another case number. If you are facing charges from driving while under suspension, call us today at for your free and confidential consultation.