Illinois Statutory Summary Suspension Law

Many people are surprised to learn that even though a DUI case is pending in the court system with no final outcome, they are still dealing with a suspension of their license. They may ask why their license is being suspended even though they have not pled guilty to, or have been found guilty of, DUI.

With the majority of DUI cases, an individual is actually facing two separate and distinct but somewhat related cases. The first is the actual criminal DUI charge. This is discussed thoroughly elsewhere on this website. The DUI charge is the charge which is punishable by jail time and fines.

The second portion is what is called the Statutory Summary Suspension (“SS”). The Statutory Summary Suspension is the legal mechanism which leads to the suspension of one’s driving privileges before, often times, the criminal DUI charge is resolved. It is administrative and civil in nature and not punishable by any jail time or fines.

The SS law in Illinois is a law which removes suspected impaired drivers from the road while the criminal DUI case plays out in the court system, which can take several months, and even years. Lawmakers know that by waiting for the conclusion of the criminal DUI charge to occur, a suspected impaired driver may continue to operate a vehicle, thereby posing a danger to other drivers and pedestrians.

In Illinois, if you are requested by law enforcement to give a blood, breath, or urine sample under certain circumstances, you must do so. [1] This is because every driver licensed in the State of Illinois, and every driver operating a vehicle in the State of Illinois, implicitly consents to such tests. There are normally two ways that someone’s driving privileges can be suspended under the SS law.

The first way is through actual testing. If you submit to such a test and the test reveals: 1) a blood alcohol content of .08 or above, 2) a THC concentration of either 5 nanograms or more of whole blood or 10 nanograms or more of other bodily substance, or 3) any amount of a drug under the Controlled Substance Act and/or Methamphetamine Act, your license will be suspended. The second way is through refusing the test. [2]

In an attempt to have individuals actually comply with the SS law and submit to testing, the General Assembly has provided different suspension durations. As a first-offender, if you submit and fail a test, your license will be suspended for six months. However, if you refuse testing, your license will be suspended for twelve months. As a non-first-offender, if you submit to testing and fail, your license is suspended for twelve months. A non-first-offender who refuses testing will have their license suspended for three years. [3] As you can see, the law attempts to have individuals comply with testing requirements by shortening the length of suspension if they submit to testing.

Confusing matters even further, someone could have previously been convicted of, or pled guilty to, DUI and/or received a Statutory Summary Suspension and still be subject to the first-offender suspension. In Illinois, for Statutory Summary Suspension purposes, a person is considered a first-offender if they have not been, within the past five years of the new Summary Suspension: convicted of DUI, pled guilty to DUI, or had their license suspended under the SS law. [4]

Additionally, the SS law applies only to those who drive, or are in actual physical control of a vehicle, on a public highway at the time of the alleged impaired driving. This means that a driver in a private parking lot or on their own private driveway would not be subject to the SS laws. However, case law allows an SS to apply if there was evidence that the alleged impaired driver had recently driven on a public roadway while impaired. [5]

A Statutory Summary Suspension is technically supposed to go into effect 46 days after a motorist received notice of said suspension. [6] However, delays can occur for numerous reasons, thereby causing the suspension to go into effect after the 46th day. This includes a delay in providing notice to the Secretary of State of said suspension by law enforcement or a technical error in the documents itself, which would require time to cure. Nonetheless, because of the quick-moving nature of a Statutory Summary Suspension, retaining a qualified and experienced attorney to investigate whether or not a challenge can be made is of utmost importance.

The information provided above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Statutory Summary Suspension law in Illinois. If you have been charged with DUI and are facing a Statutory Summary Suspension, contact our office at 708-633-6005 for a free consultation and to discuss the possible actions you can take to fight your DUI and Statutory Summary Suspension and what options you may have in your specific case.


[1] 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1

[2] 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1(d)

[3] 625 ILCS 6/208.1

[4] 625 ILCS 5/11-500

[5] People v. Foster, 170 Ill.App.3d 306

[6] 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1(g)

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