Johnson & Goldrich, PC
Driver’s License Reinstatement

Learn more

License Reinstatements Explained: Informal Hearings vs Formal Hearings

Published on May 7th, 2024

Illinois residents who have had their driver’s license suspended or revoked for any reason are required to attend a reinstatement hearing in order to regain driving privileges. There are two types of hearings someone who is facing a DUI or DWI will need to attend: a formal or informal hearing.

Whether you need to request an informal hearing or a formal hearing depends on the circumstances in which you lost your license, it’s important to seek legal support. A license revocation lawyer will know the difference between a formal hearing vs. an informal hearing, and be able to successfully navigate both processes.

An empty office chair sits underneath a wooden desk facing a microphone. The microphone hovers over the desk near the office chair.

If an individual has lost their driving privileges due to an offense, or numerous offenses, involving a fatality or multiple DUI (Driving Under the Influence) dispositions, they are required to request a formal hearing.

If an individual has had their driving privileges suspended or revoked due to an offense, or multiple offenses, not involving a fatality or for sanctions related to minor moving violations, they are required to attend an informal hearing. Individuals with their license suspended or revoked due to a single DUI arrest must also attend an informal hearing. 

How to Prepare for an Informal Hearing

Contrary to a formal hearing, the Illinois Secretary of State has Driver’s License Reinstatement informal hearings on a walk-in basis.  The administrative law judge holds these informal hearings during specific hours in multiple Secretary of State (SOS) offices across the state.

Applying for reinstatement of your license through an informal hearing means meeting in-person with a Secretary of State’s hearing officer. During the informal hearing, this law officer will ask a variety of questions and have you write down your answers. Some of the questions might include:

  • Why was your license suspended or revoked?
  • Why do you need your driving privileges reinstated?
  • How have you improved your conduct or behavior?

You might also receive questions concerning:

  • Your Driving Record
  • Criminal History
  • Any Drug or Alcohol Use
  • Abuse
  • Rehabilitation or Treatment For Any Of The Above Conditions

After the hearing, the officer will submit all documentation to the main Secretary of State office in Springfield, Illinois. The decision will be mailed to you. There are three possible outcomes to an informal hearing:

  • Reinstatement: You are granted full driving privileges back.
  • Restricted Driving Permit (RDP): This permit allows you to drive only in certain situations such as commuting to work or to receive treatment. You may also be required to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed in your vehicle.
  • Denial: If you receive a denial decision, you can attend another hearing to request driving privileges 30 days after the date of your initial hearing. 

Preparing for a Formal Hearing

Preparing for a formal hearing can feel overwhelming due to the amount of documentation needed to plead your case. Not only can having an experienced license reinstatement attorney reduce the amount of stress put on you during the preparation process, it can also greatly increase your chances of obtaining a successful outcome.

Requesting a Formal Hearing

A formal hearing request must be made in writing and sent through the U.S. Mail. Email requests and faxes will not be accepted. You will need to provide the following information:

  • Full name, including middle initial
  • Current address, including any P.O. BOX, apartment, or lot number
  • Telephone number where you can be reached during the day or evening
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Illinois driver’s license number or reference number, if available
  • E-mail address, if available
  • Year and state of last alcohol or drug related arrest

By Illinois law, you must include a $50 filing fee in the form of a check, money order, or credit card along with your request. This fee is not refundable and must be made payable to the Secretary of State. Cash will not be accepted. 

If a request is received without this fee, it will be returned and a hearing will not be scheduled. The Secretary of State will mail you a hearing notice upon receiving your request. Your hearing date will be scheduled within 90 days of your request.

What to Expect During Your Hearing

During a formal hearing, the individual requesting driving privileges, also known as the petitioner, must prove to the court that they no longer pose a risk to the public. The petitioner will be asked a variety of questions under oath, regarding their drug/alcohol related arrest history, drug/alcohol use history, benefits of treatment, hardships caused by losing driving privileges, and lifestyle changes.

If the petitioner was denied driving relief in a previous hearing, they must also address any issues raised during that hearing. Afterward, the officer will create a proposed order to be sent along with any evidence submitted during the hearing to a representative of the Secretary of State who will make their decision. 

We Fight for Your Driving Privileges 

At Johnson & Goldrich, our Chicago administrative hearings attorneys understand how the loss of driving privileges can cause hardships throughout your life. Our firm has over 25 years of combined experience in representing individuals that are fighting to have their driver’s licenses reinstated. Our proven track record shows that we have obtained successful outcomes for our clients in the city of Chicago, throughout Illinois, and for driver’s out of state. 

If you are in need of knowledgeable legal representation for a reinstatement and informal hearing or a revocation and formal hearing, then you need to seek legal counsel. Contact our office now.

Back to News

Stop worrying and give us a call or text us at 312.795.1801 or submit the form below.