The difference between license suspension and revocation

In normal, everyday conversation, the words “suspension” and “revocation” often mean the same thing. At the very least, they are similes, or words that have slightly different meanings but can be substituted for each other.

Not so in the legal world. Having your driver’s license suspended differs significantly from having it revoked. That said, in either case, the outcome is the same: You won’t be driving anywhere soon.

How to get your driving privileges suspended in Illinois

Your driver’s license is your freedom to drive around the greater Chicagoland area and throughout the U.S.

It’s also your agreement to abide by the rules of the road. If you don’t, your license will be suspended, or taken away temporarily until a specific time period has passed and you meet other requirements (usually paying reinstatement fines). Your driver’s license will be suspended in Illinois if you:

  • Refuse to take a chemical test (breath, blood or urine) to determine your intoxication levels
  • Are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, cannabis or other “intoxicating substances”
  • Have any amount of alcohol in your system if you are under 21 (“Zero Tolerance”)
  • Have 10 or more unpaid parking tickets
  • Fail to pay five or more fines for traffic violations
  • Commit excessive moving violations like speeding, running red lights or driving recklessly
  • Do not appear in traffic court
  • Don’t make your child support payments
  • Try to avoid tollways or commit five or more toll violations

So what is a ‘statutory summary suspension’?

A statutory summary suspension refers specifically to DUI cases. When you’re arrested for DUI, you essentially have two cases: a criminal court case and an administrative one. Statutory summary suspensions are part of the latter.

After a DUI arrest, your license is automatically suspended until you complete the proper steps to get it reinstated. Even if you’re acquitted or your DUI case gets dismissed, your license will remain suspended until you complete these steps. We’ll tackle that topic next week.

Revocation is more serious

A suspension is temporary, and usually lasts only a few months. However, having your license revoked means it will be taken away indefinitely. You cannot re-apply for a license for at least one year of having it revoked, and in some cases, more than one year, depending on the infraction. Those with multiple DUI convictions may never qualify for an Illinois driver’s license again.

As you can see, either scenario has the ability to significantly impact your daily life. Without a license, even temporarily, you can’t get to work, get your groceries or shuttle your kids to and from their various activities. Next week, we’ll discuss possible options you might have for reinstating your license.