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Formal Hearings vs. Informal Hearings

What is the Difference Between a Formal and Informal Hearing?

Following a driver's license suspension or revocation, drivers in Illinois will need to follow certain procedures to have their driving privileges reinstated. One of the key parts of this process will be a license reinstatement hearing held by the Illinois Secretary of State. Depending on the circumstances of a case, either a formal or informal hearing may be required.

Formal Hearings

A formal hearing is required if your license has been suspended or revoked because of multiple DUI convictions or a traffic violation involving someone's death. A request for a formal hearing must be sent via mail. If necessary, a subsequent hearing may be held at least 90 days after a person's most recent hearing. A request for a formal hearing must be accompanied by a non-refundable $50 filing fee in the form of a check, money order, or credit card payable to the Illinois Secretary of State. You will receive a Notice of Hearing in the mail when your hearing has been scheduled.

A hearing officer presides over a formal hearing where testimony will be heard and evidence will be reviewed. The officer may question you or other witnesses, decide what types of evidence may be reviewed, and address other legal issues that may arise during the hearing. Following the hearing, an order will be issued that will be based on the hearing officer's recommendations and any other factors considered by the Secretary of State's office. This order may reinstate your driving privileges or deny or reinstatement request.

You are permitted to have an attorney at your hearing, and legal representation is highly recommended. During the hearing, you will be subject to aggressive questions not only by the attorney for the State but also from the hearing officer. Failure to have experienced legal representation will often result in a denial of your license reinstatement request.

Proper documentation is key in these hearings. The State will be reviewing your alcohol and drug evaluation, all treatment documentation, and any support group or abstinence documents that are required.

At the completion of the hearing, the State has 90 days to provide you with an approval or denial, although you will usually receive a response in less time than that. The written response will be sent to you via U.S. mail. If denied, you may request another hearing after 90 days have passed since your last hearing. The subsequent hearing must address any issues that the hearing officer raised during your original hearing.

Our firm provides representation in Formal Hearings at the Joliet Secretary of State office, located at:

  • 54 N. Ottawa St., 4th Floor, Joliet, IL 60432

Informal Hearings

You may attend an informal hearing if your license was suspended or revoked based on one DUI arrest or conviction or lower-level traffic violations that did not result in fatalities. Informal hearings are held at certain Secretary of State Driver Services facilities, and appointments do not need to be scheduled in advance. Following an informal hearing, you may receive a Restricted Driving Permit, or you may be eligible for the full reinstatement of your driving privileges.

An informal hearing requires you to submit to an interview with the informal hearing officer. You should have a local Joliet driver's license reinstatement lawyer with you at this hearing. Typically, the interview will require you to answer questions about your current use of alcohol or drugs, and a detailed explanation of your past history of alcohol and drug use will be required. The informal hearing officer will review in detail all of your previous alcohol-related offenses, including those that did not result in a suspension or revocation of your license. It is vital to the success of your hearing that you do not minimize your previous history and that you are able to convey your lifestyle changes since those violations, thus assuring the informal hearing officer these types of offenses will not be committed again.

As with the formal hearing process, you will be required to provide an alcohol/drug evaluation and show proof of any classes that were required. Additional documentation may be required on a case-by-case basis. Our office has years of experience presenting these cases to informal hearing officers in Joliet, and we will guide you through this process to help ensure that your driving privileges can be reinstated.

Once the interview has been completed, the hearing officer will review all answers given at the hearing along with the documentation you submitted, ultimately recommending what type of driving relief should be granted. All documentation and the recommendations of the informal hearing officer are submitted to Springfield for final approval. You will be notified by mail of the decision, which typically takes about four weeks to receive.

Contact Our Will County Driver's License Reinstatement Hearing Lawyer

At the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C., we can make sure you are prepared for a formal or informal hearing, and we will provide you with representation during these proceedings. To learn how we can help you get your license back, set up a free consultation by calling 815-740-4025 or contacting us online.

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