Secretary of State Hearings

Formal and Information Hearings

Secretary of State Hearings in Lake County IllinoisDue to the increased enforcement of DUI and traffic laws there has been a substantial increase in the amount of revocations and suspensions while the Secretary of State has made it increasingly difficult to obtain a Restricted Driving Permit or reinstatement. Following a revocation or suspension, to obtain any driving privileges a person must have a hearing before the Secretary of State. Whether it is a Formal or Informal hearing the majority of people who attend these hearings alone or without a qualified lawyer are denied either for improper documentation or incorrect testimony. To ensure a fair and successful hearing you need a qualified attorney who will thoroughly prepare you prior to the hearing and properly represent you at the hearing. As in any complex area of law an experienced attorney that concentrates in Secretary of State law is a must.

The Law Offices of Winer & Winer has helped thousands of people obtain driving privileges. Due to our years of experience we understand the process and are well versed in the complex requirements set forth by the Secretary of State. David Winer is recognized as a leading attorney in Secretary of State hearings and has authored a pre-eminent article on Secretary of State hearings, has lectured other attorneys as an Illinois Continuing Legal Education presenter of SOS hearings and has also lectured at seminars for the Probation Department and Alcohol/Drug Counselors.

For more comprehensive information about license hearings visit our
Dedicated SOS hearings site at

To properly prepared for the hearing we provide detailed instructions of each specific step to prepare. We carefully review all the treatment documents including the evaluation, treatment plan, discharge summary, aftercare plan, etc. and make sure they meet the Secretary of State requirements. If there are any problems we directly address any potential issues with your evaluator and make sure they are resolved and in accordance with the Secretary of State requirements. We assist in helping you obtain the necessary letters and other documents you need to present at the hearing.

In addition, we personally prepare you to testify and meet several times to make sure your testimony and documentation is accurate. Many clients prefer appointments on the weekends or in the evening to avoid missing work and to obtain a ride. Because we know the inconvenience and hardship of not having a license we try to accommodate our clients and arrange convenient weekend and after-hours appointment times.

General Preparation for a Secretary of State Hearing

Proper preparation is the key to a successful Secretary of State reinstatement hearing. It is critical to spend appropriate time with each individual client preparing them to understand the issues and questions that will be raised at the hearing: Prior to the hearing we will:

  • Review driving record: To determine the type your suspension or revocation, whether you are eligible for a Restricted Driving Permit or full reinstatement, whether a BAIID device is required and for how long, etc
  • Review all Treatment Documentation: It is critical to carefully review all your prior alcohol evaluations and treatment documentation. Your testimony at the Secretary of State hearing must be consistent with the treatment information. If new documents are needed we assist in obtaining all of them
  • Denial Order from Prior Hearing: If you had a previous Secretary of State Hearing it is critical to carefully examine the Denial Order to determine the reasons why you were denied to remedy and address those reasons in your new evaluation and testimony.
  • Preparation for Testimony: During individual meetings we give you a direct and easily understandable method to provide testimony at the hearing. We will review the circumstances of each DUI arrest, what you learned from treatment, changes made in your life since then, past and current drinking patterns, your hardship in not having a license and why the Secretary of State should rely on you to never to get another DUI.
  • New Update Evaluation: If you earlier evaluation is more than six months old you must obtain a new Evaluation and possibly additional documentation. This evaluation is critical and contains information specifically relied upon by the Secretary of State.
  • Others Documents: Depending on your particular situation further letters will be submitted regarding you character, abstinence, support group, employment, school medical care etc. We provide assistance and guidance in the preparation of all these additional letters

CALL 847-336-9111


Do I Need a Lawyer for a Secretary of State Hearing?

Unlike a criminal case, you are not required to have a lawyer for Secretary of State hearings. However, due to their complexity it is highly recommended to have an attorney that concentrates in Secretary of State hearings otherwise the process can be overwhelming. Attorneys who are unfamiliar with the Secretary of State find the process confusing, which is why most of our clients are referred by other attorneys. It is imperative that an attorney be intimately familiar with all the requirements of the Secretary of State, assist in obtaining and preparing those documents and properly prepare you for the testimony.

During a Formal Hearing, your attorney will question you about a prior DUI arrests, past and current drinking or drug history, alcohol related symptoms and several other relevant topics. It is critical that you are familiar with all the questions and have reviewed your responses and be familiar with your driving record, evaluations, treatment records, transcripts of prior hearings and give guidance how to prepare to answer the questions. I actively assist in every stage in your case and will not accept representation unless I firmly believe there is a very good chance of success.

Although no attorney can guarantee results, I assure you that I work very diligently to gain your confidence and greatly enhance the chances of a favorable outcome. All questions are answered promptly and we will meet several times beforehand to prepare your testimony and make sure all the documents are prepared properly.

With over 25 years of Secretary of State hearings, I have what is needed to attain success and familiarize you with the entire process. I personally prepare and attend your hearing to maximize your chances. Read David J. Winer’s full bio for more detailed information of his extensive experience in this area of law.

How difficult is it to get my license back after a DUI conviction?

The Secretary of State will not grant any driving privileges until it is satisfied that you are not a risk. The burden of proving this is solely upon you. The SOS does not have to prove that you are a risk; rather you have to convince them that you are not. This is a difficult burden for most people to meet, particularly those with multiple DUIs. But, with the proper documents, testimony and preparation you have a good chance.

People without an attorney are usually denied at the first hearing because they are unprepared to testify, have improper documentation or were represented by an inexperienced attorney. With an attorney who concentrates in this area of law your chances of success is vastly improved, even at the first hearing. If a Restricted Driving Permit is issued after driving for 75% of the time on the permit then full reinstatement will most likely be granted at a subsequent hearing. Don’t take a chance by yourself or with an inexperienced attorney in this area of law

How much will it Cost?

I am fully aware that the legal fee is a great concern and provide fair and reasonable fees. The legal fee is based upon the complexity of the case which includes the number of prior DUIs, other serious traffic offenses; evaluation classification, type of hearing needed, etc. After a free review and consultation, I can quote a fee and payment plans are available. We accept debit and credit cards.

In addition to the legal fee there are other costs including a $50 Filing fee, new evaluation, ordering of past transcripts of any prior Secretary of State hearings. If you are successful at the hearing there are additional Secretary of State fees for the BAIID machine and if granted full reinstatement the fee is $500 and also for any unpaid Summary Suspensions or tickets. SR22 Insurance will also have to be obtained

If you have any questions about legal fees or SOS fees attorney David J. Winer at 847-336-9111.

Required Documents for a Hearing

If your previous Uniform Report Evaluation is older than six months, you must either obtain a new one or get an Update Evaluation. The client must also document treatment completion with 1). Risk Education Certificate, 2). Treatment Verification Form, 3). Individual Treatment Plan, 4). Discharge Summary, 5). Aftercare or Continuing Care Plan, and 5). Continuing Care Status Report. If no treatment was provided or the documents are no longer available, you may be able to submit a Treatment Waiver instead.

A Level III-High Risk client must provide the above evaluation and treatment documents but also proof of attendance in a support recovery program like AA or a Non-Traditional Support Group and also proof of abstinence from three people attesting to your abstinence.

In addition, to the evaluation and treatment documents, it is advisable to have character and employment letters and, if necessary, a medical or school attendance letter

If I have already have been denied, can a lawyer still help me?

I often represent clients that have been denied after appearing either with or without an attorney. Before evaluating your chance of success I must review the Denial Order and other records from your prior hearing to determine what areas need to be remedied.

This requires a copy the Denial Order and submitted Evaluations. If you do not have them, I can order all the documents from the Secretary of State Archive Department. Only after a review can I provide advice how to address the issues, prepare your new testimony and consult with your evaluator to address those problems.

“Suspended” or “Revoked”- What is the difference?

A suspension is a loss of driving privileges for a definite period of time. There is a beginning and ending date which is determined by the Secretary of State. At the end of the suspension you pay a reinstatement fee and your driving privileges are restored. Through a hearing a person can apply for a Restricted Driving Permit during the suspension period and once the suspension is over you can drive. However, a review of your driving record must first be done to confirm if you are eligible for a Permit.

A revocation is indefinite and your license is not be automatically reinstated. Without a hearing you will be unable to drive forever. Only with a hearing can your obtain a permit or be restored. Again, there is no ‘automatic’ reinstatement after the revocation period and you will never be able to drive again until a hearing is conducted before the Secretary of State.

Timing: How long does it take to get a hearing and a decision?

This depends on what type of hearing you need, either a Formal or Informal hearing. If you have more than one summary suspension or separate DUI’ or a fatality you likely require a Formal Hearing. If you have only one DUI, or a prior court supervision and the Summary Suspension removed that you may be eligible for an Informal hearing. This determination requires a quick review of your driving abstract.

For an INFORMAL Hearing, if you are eligible you can have a hearing anytime without an appointment. While a FORMAL Hearing requires a petition with a $50.00 filing mailed to their office in Chicago. You will receive a letter from them with the hearing scheduled about two months from the date the petition was mailed. After either type of hearing your file is then sent to Springfield where the final decision is issued which typically takes two to three month to receive in the mail.

Will I have a BAIID- Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device installed?

It depends. If you have any combination of two or more suspensions or revocations from separate DUIs a BAIID must be installed. Only after a review of our driving record can this be determined. There are exceptions to the BAIID requirement for an employer owned vehicle used during work hours.

BAIID stands for “Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device” and is installed when a person is granted a Restricted Driving Permit. With a BAIID device installed a person must provide breath samples prior to starting the vehicle and when driving at random intervals. The BAIID device, prevents the car from starting at 0.05 or higher. To avoid false readings the BAIID company will explain how to avoid issues with mouthwash, brushing teeth, cough syrup, etc.

Once a person receives a Permit with the BAIID, if not eligible for full reinstatement they can obtain an Informal hearing to continue every year to keep the permit until they are eligible for full license reinstatement. If eligible for reinstatement, they must then apply for another Hearing and get a full license without the BAIID.

Locations of Secretary of State Offices

The location of your Secretary of State Hearing is determined by what type of hearing you require.

I attend Formal Hearings at the Chicago Secretary of State office located at 17 N. State Street, Suite 1200, Chicago, Il 60602. It is near the corner of State and Washington streets in downtown and not far from several train lines.

Informal Hearings are conducted at various Secretary of State locations depending on where you live. It may be at the above State Street office, the Chicago Elston Street office located at 5401 N. Elston Avenue Chicago, IL 60630 or in Waukegan at 617 S. Greenbay Bay Rd, Waukegan, IL 60085

What is the Difference between an Informal and a Formal Hearing?

An Informal hearing is usually for people that have a non-DUI based suspension/revocation or have had only one DUI conviction or a prior DUI “Supervision in Illinois where the Summary Suspension was removed. It is a walk-in hearing and no appointment is needed. At an Informal Hearing the Hearing Officer asks a series of questions about the circumstances of the arrest(s) drinking history, alcohol treatment etc and writes down your answers. Although you lawyer does not do the questioning his guidance beforehand allows you to understand all the upcoming questions, make sure you provide appropriate answers and assist in the preparation of all the required documents to be submitted.

A Formal Hearing is typically for people with two or more DUI’s or summary suspensions, a felony DUI conviction or accident with a fatality. I conduct Formal Hearings at the Chicago Secretary of State. They are held in a room where the client provides testimony under oath while being questioned by his attorney and is subject to further questioning by a prosecutor from the Secretary of State or by the Hearing Officer. In a Formal Hearing it is critical to have an attorney and be thoroughly prepared.

What is an Restricted Driving Permit (RDP)

A Restricted Driving Permit, can be with or without a BAIID device, and allows driving for the limited purposes of employment, medical visits for themselves or an immediate family member, school attendance for yourself or an immediate family member, support group attendance or court ordered community. For employment, a permit can be issued for driving to and from work, and also while on the job. If you are a driver, make delivery’s, sales, go to job sites or have an need to drive during work hours you can drive during the course of work to these locations. An RDP can be for a maximum of six days per week and twelve hours a day.

With a revocation, a person usually must drive with a Permit before full driving privileges are restored at future hearing. Typically, a Permit is granted for one year and up to five or ten years for multiple DUI convictions. Once a person has drove on it for 75% of the time a new hearing must be held for full reinstatement. If a person’s revocation eligibility date is several years in advance they must renew the Permit every year at an Informal hearing until the revocation period is over and only then can they apply for full reinstatement.

With a suspension, the person drives on the Restricted Driving Permit until the suspension period is over with. They pay a reinstatement and can then drive without any restrictions.

If you have any questions about obtaining a Permit or how long you will need it for, our office can help and guide you through the process.

If classified as alcoholic and I don’t go to AA, is there another type of Support Group.

If you are classified by the evaluator as dependent on alcohol or drugs, the Secretary of State recognizes that AA does not fit everybody and may accept a “Non-Traditional” Support Group such as church, close friends/family, co-workers, therapy, or another program that helps you stay abstinent. You must explain what your Non-Traditional Support “Group” is and how it keeps you abstinent. It is important that they know your had an alcoholic problem, are available 24/7 if any personal issues/triggers arise and involve you in healthy non-alcohol activities. You must explain your reasons for not attending AA, and how this Group replaces it. You must provide three letters from your group explaining how they are involved and what role they play in helping you stay sober, positive changes they see, how they help you to remain sober by communicating and providing advice and support.

Do I need to attend AA or proof of sobriety?

If you are classified as a Level III-Dependent you must provide letters confirming your abstinence and participation in a support program such as AA or other Non-Traditional Support. You must acknowledge that you are an alcoholic and are determined to stay sober. Your sobriety must be documented that you quit drinking for a minimum of 12 months prior to the hearing or six months for an Restricted Driving Permit.

WHAT TYPES OF Restricted Driving Permit ARE ALLOWED?

Employment: Must be currently employed or verify an offer for future employment. If self-employed, documentation must be submitted to include, stationery, business card, receipt, blank check etc

Medical Treatment: Must provide documentation from a medical provider that you or an immediate family member, who is unable to drive, currently receives or will receive regular scheduled medical services.

Community or Public Service: Must provide a Court Order confirming the public service hours detailing the place it is performed and the number of hours ordered by the court.

Education: Must be currently enrolled, or intend to enroll, in an accredited educational institution with the address, phone number of the institution.

Daycare or School: A minor member of the household must be currently enrolled, or intend to enroll in a school or daycare. You must submit verification and the address and phone number at the facility.

Support/Recovery: A person must provide documentation from members of the group that they attend meetings on a regular basis.

Is it better to wait until I am eligible for full reinstatement?

Even if you go to a hearing after your eligibility date you are often required to first have a Permit, before full restatement is granted. In certain circumstances full restatement can be granted, but a consultation and review of your records are needed to determine if you are eligible for those exceptions.

You are required to drive on the permit for a minimum of 75% of the time before applying for reinstatement. In most cases, the permit is valid for 12 months and you must drive on it for 9 months. If you fail to have another hearing when the permit expires you will be revoked again.

What are the Risk Classifications in an Alcohol Evaluation?

Typically, a “Uniform Report Evaluation” was done for the DUI case, and if it is more than 6 months old a new one needs to be conducted. You must submit either a new Uniform Report or an Updated evaluation which can only be completed by the agency that completed the original Uniform Report evaluation or did the treatment.

An evaluation has five classifications that are set forth by the Illinois Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse called DASA. The classification is based by the number of alcohol arrests, breath test results, prior drinking history and several other factors. The classification determines how many hours of alcohol treatment must be completed. In certain circumstance the evaluator may waive the requirement to attend classes. The evaluation classifications are as follows:

Level I- Minimal Risk (10 hours of class): It must be the first DUI disposition, a breath/blood reading under .15%, no prior DUI statutory summary suspensions, reckless driving reduced from a DUI and no other symptoms of substance abuse. Minimal Risk clients must completed ten hours of class called Risk Education.

Level II-Moderate Risk (20-22 hours of class): You must have no prior conviction or supervision for DUI, no prior DUI statutory summary suspensions, prior reckless driving reduced from DUI, the breath/blood test must be under .20%, a refusal of breath/blood testing and have no symptoms of substance abuse. It is not possible for a person with more than one DUI to be a Moderate Risk. Ten hours Risk Education classes is required along with an additional twelve hours of alcohol treatment.

Level II-Significant Risk (30 hours of class): A person can have one prior DUI on their record, a prior statutory summary suspension, or reckless driving reduced from a DUI. Also, clients with only one DUI but had a breath/blood test of .20% or higher from the DUI and other symptoms of substance abuse. They must complete ten (10) hours Risk Education class, twenty additional hours of alcohol treatment and any recommended continuing care services.

Level III-High Risk Dependent: (minimum 75 hours of class): High Risk classification is due to sufficient symptoms of alcohol/drug dependence or more than three DUI arrests. They must complete a minimum of 75 hours of treatment and upon discharge, participate in a continuing care plan often being AA, NA or a Non-Traditional Support Group. They must know their abstinence date and be knowledgeable about their support group program.

Level III-Non-Dependent (Minimum of 75 hours of class): People that have had three DUI’s within a ten-year period but are not dependent on alcohol, not attending AA or have symptoms of alcohol dependency. The client must also submit a report from their Evaluator explaining why dependency was ruled out and the cause of the client’s behavior that resulted in three or more DUI’s.

Out of State Packet

What if Illinois has a Hold to Renew or Obtain a License?

We represent many out-of-state clients seeking to clear an Illinois revocation hold. Often a DUI or other traffic violation occurred in Illinois, and has affected the license in their resident state. Due to the “National Registry” Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) database it can cancel a person’s license even if they had a valid license in their own state for many years. The PDPS is federal database and contains information of DUI’s and other serious traffic offenses. It results in a hold in your resident state and forces you to obtain clearance from Illinois. Typically, a person goes to renew their license or get a new license in their resident state and are denied because Illinois placed a revocation hold on the PDPS database.

Even if the Illinois revocation occurred many years ago and they had a valid driver’s license, the PDPS will prohibit renewal or issuance of a license. When this happens, you must petition for clearance from Illinois. There are two ways to achieve this: 1). An in-person Formal Hearing in Illinois or 2). an Out of State Packet. Only after a consultation and learning of the reasons for the revocation and other background can I advise which type of hearing is best and has the most likelihood of success.

The difference between two is significant. For a Formal Hearing, the client needs obtain an alcohol evaluation, treatment documents and come to Illinois and testify at a hearing in Chicago. It may be quicker and we have more control of the process and the results usually are better.

For an Out of State Packet, our office assists clients in completing the Out of State Packet and obtain the required evaluations and other documents. It may take several months to obtain a response from Springfield

Must I return to Illinois for a hearing?

You can either come to Illinois for an in-person hearing or submit an Out of State Packet. If you live within 30 miles of the Illinois border you must attend an in-person hearing. If you live further than 30 miles from the border, can either attend an in-person hearing or submit an Out of State Packet. It depends on your personal circumstances.

If you do not come to Illinois an Out of State Packet is the method of clearing your hold. It consists of a lengthy affidavit, character letters, proof of residency and in certain circumstances a new alcohol evaluation and proof of alcohol treatment. You still need to apply for clearance through the Illinois even if you have no intention of returning here. These petitions and the required documents can be very tricky and it is highly recommended to obtain the assistance of an experienced lawyer in this area of law. If you do it yourself or use an inexperienced lawyer, you will likely be denied and cause serious problems with any future petitions.

If I have been previously denied, can I reapply again?

We assist many people who were previously denied after doing it by themselves or used an inexperienced lawyer. Before reapplying it is critical to review the Secretary of State Denial Order, evaluations and any other documents that were previously submitted to determine the specific reasons you were denied. If you do not have a copy of those documents our office can order all of them from the Secretary of State archives. Only after a thorough review of all the documents can we properly evaluate and address these issues.

Can I use an Evaluator from the State I live in?

The Secretary of State will accept a licensed evaluator in the state where you reside. Our office works with the evaluator to educate and make them aware of all the Illinois Secretary of State requirements. We then review all their documents and advise them how to make sure they are fully compliant.

The Secretary of State of Illinois has very specific requirements to complete a Out of State Packet. Having incomplete or inaccurate documentation will result in the denial of your petition. Our office is very familiar with all the requirements in clearing the Illinois revocation hold.

If I Completed Alcohol Treatment Before, Must I Complete It Again?

This depends on your driving history, past treatment completion and other factors. Many clients do not have to do additional treatment, but must show proof of a 10 hour remedial education program. Additional treatment is determined by many factors, such as your history since the Illinois DUI arrest. Additional treatment can be waived by the new evaluator or some additional treatment may be needed to be successful in clearing the Illinois Hold. We work closely with the treatment provider to ensure success in clearing the Illinois Hold.

Do I need to have a lawyer represent me?

You are not required to have a lawyer for an Out of State Packet. However, it is highly recommended that you have an attorney that is experienced with this complex area of the law to guide you through the entire process. We address any issues with your evaluator and verify they are fully resolved prior to submitting the Out of State We will let you know if we can help you obtain a successful outcome and make sure all the requirements by the Secretary of State are followed.

My DUI was many years ago, can they clear my Illinois Hold without a hearing

No, the Secretary of State will only clear a revocation or suspension hold by an Out of State Packet or in-person hearing. You cannot just wait until the Illinois Hold is cleared because when a person is revoked it stays in effect forever until they have a hearing process. No matter how old the DUI is, Illinois requires that a hearing regain driving privileges. Otherwise you will remain revoked forever.

How long does it take to remove an Illinois Hold?

Typically the results following an in-person Formal or Informal hearing take 2-3 months to receive by the mail while for an Out of State Packet the results typically are within a 2-4 months after they have been mailed in. Everything depends on your driving history, available documents, evaluator and other factors. We can determine your timeline after an initial phone consultation.

What if I have more than four DUI convictions on my record?

Out of State Residents who used to be lifetime revoked can now seek clearance of the Illinois revocation hold ten years from the date of revocation. In addition to the requirements of an Out of State Packet they must have three years of abstinence, completion of alcohol treatment and proof of abstinence.


Can I get driving privileges after a non-DUI based suspension or revocation?

The first step is to review your driving record to determine the reason for the suspension or revocation. Sometimes, we can re-open past charges and have a conviction removed which results in removal of the suspension without having a hearing. If returning to court is not possible then a hearing is required.

If convicted of the below traffic offenses it will result in a SUSPENSION:

  1. Three or more minor moving convictions in a 12 month period if over 21 years old;
  2. Two or more minor moving convictions in a 24 month period if under 21 years old;
  3. Fleeing and eluding a police officer;
  4. Leaving the scene of an accident where property damage exceeds $1,000.00;
  5. Two Conviction for illegal transportation of open liquor within a period of 1 year;
  6. Violation of driver’s license classification;
  7. Possession of a controlled substance while operating a motor vehicle.

If convicted, the below offenses it will result in REVOCATION:

  1. DUI, inside or outside Illinois;
  2. Leaving the scene of an accident with a personal injury or death;
  3. Drag or street racing;
  4. Aggravated fleeing & eluding involving speed 21 miles over, property damage of over $300.00 Two transportation of open alcohol charges under age 21;
  5. A felony involving the use of a vehicle.

If there is a hold on your license from a third party agency it requires you to set up a payment plan with them, such as parking tickets, child support, an uninsured accident etc. You must deal with that agency directly. When satisfied they will notify the Secretary of State to lift the hold. Common third party suspensions are:

  • Parking violations –Ten or more unpaid parking violations.
  • Failure to pay child support – Non-payment of court-ordered child support.
  • Toll violations –Failure to pay fines for five or more toll violations.
  • Safety responsibility violations – If at fault for a car accident without insurance.
  • Automated traffic violations – If photographed running light five times and didn’t pay the fines

Call the Law Offices of Winer & Winer
for a Free Review and Consultation of your Case