If you are in a car accident, the Secretary of State may suspend your license. If your driver’s license is suspended, you lose your privilege to drive. The Secretary of State will suspend your license if it finds:
- You were at least 50% at fault;
- You were driving without insurance; and
- The accident involving property damage of more than $500, personal injury, or death.
The Secretary of State will notify you by mail of the pending suspension.
If you are in a car accident, notify your insurance company immediately. If the accident causes death, injury, or property damage, you must file an accident report with the Illinois Department of Transportation, also known as IDOT, within 10 days after the accident. IDOT will investigate the crash, and IDOT will report the names of any drivers without insurance involved in the accident to the Secretary of State. Please note that you must also file a police report if the accident results in damages of $1,500 or more.
Your license probably will not be suspended if:
- The accident did not involve property damage, death, or injury; and
- You had insurance at the time of the accident.
What if the accident is not your fault?
If the accident is not your fault, you may fight the suspension by asking for a hearing in writing. You must do this the date before the suspension would begin. The letter received from the Secretary of State will list the things that you will need to do to prove that the accident was not your fault and that you had insurance at the time of the accident or the ability to pay for the damages. The Secretary of State will notify all persons involved of a scheduled hearing.
If you were insured at the time of the accident or able to pay for damage from the crash, then you would provide proof of the insurance or ability to pay. Examples include a bond issued by an insurance company or surety company or a security deposit in the amount of the damages.
If it has been proven in a court of law that you were not at fault in the accident, then you would give the Secretary of State a stamped or certified copy of the documentation from the court stating that you are not responsible. If you are not at fault, you will not have to prove that you can pay damages.
If you are not insured, you may have to get an SR-22 insurance policy from a private insurance company. Financial responsibility insurance, also known as SR-22, is a particular type of insurance that you need before the Secretary of State can reinstate your license. The coverage is sent directly to the Secretary of State from your insurance company. If the SR-22 is accepted, you will receive the SR-22 from the agency and a letter from the Secretary of State.
Driver’s license suspension for unpaid judgment
If you are uninsured and get into a car accident, and the other person sues you, a court can enter a judgment against you for damages. This judgment includes all money owed to the defendant as well as court costs.
The Secretary of State will suspend your driving privileges if you do not pay what you owe or make payments as agreed under an installment plan after 30 days from the judgment.
If you do not pay any part of your debt, your driver's license will be taken away. The things you need to drive legally in Illinois will also be taken away:
- Your registration card
- Your registration stickers
- Your license plates
The suspension will last until:
- You pay the judgment;
- You file for bankruptcy. This does not apply to alcohol-related cases;
- A chapter XIII Wage Earner Plan is put in place. This is a plan where money is deducted from your paycheck to pay for damages;
- You reach an installment payment agreement with the creditor. If you do not follow the agreement, your license will be suspended again;
- The judgment order is not renewed after 7 years from the date the court issued it;
- The court vacates or removes the judgment from your record; or
- Any suspension more than 20 years old may be terminated by the Secretary of State.
Driver’s license suspension hearing
Getting a lawyer for your hearing is not required. However, one is recommended if you can afford it. There are no legal aid attorneys for these types of hearings.
To request a hearing, you will need to fill out a form called Formal Hearing Request. You will also need to pay a $50 fee to schedule the hearing. You may qualify to file for free if you can’t pay the fee. You can request a hearing at the following locations in Illinois:
- Mount Vernon
In Cook County hearings are held at:
Secretary of State
17 N. State Street, Suite 1200
Chicago, Illinois 60602
If you live outside of the state, you can apply for a hearing by email, by writing a letter, or by faxing a hearing request to:
Losing your driver’s license suspension hearing
What if the accident is your fault?
If the accident is your fault and you do not have insurance, then you will have to prove your ability to pay for the damages. You will either provide a bond or deposit money into a security deposit account. You may also enter into an installment agreement with the other person. The installment agreement is an agreement that will allow you to make a set amount of payments over time to pay off the damages. If you enter into an installment agreement, you will have to provide a court stamped or certified copy of the agreement to the Secretary of State.
If a judgment for $500 or more is entered against you, you must purchase and maintain financial responsibility insurance from a private insurance company for 3 years. Financial responsibility insurance is a special type of insurance known as SR-22. You must also file the SR-22 insurance with the Secretary of State.
If the other person involved in the accident states that they will not sue you, you should get a signed statement from the other person releasing you from all damages. The statement has to be notarized. The promise not to sue cannot be conditional. This means neither of the sides in the accident can require the other to do something in return for promising not to sue.
What if the driver’s license suspension was entered in error?
If the judgment was entered against you in error, you must ask the court to reverse or throw out the judgment by filing a Motion to Vacate or Dismiss in the court where the judgment was entered. You should speak with an attorney for assistance with this process. For more information, see Filing a motion to vacate a judgment.
Once the court issues an Order to Vacate or Dismiss, you will need to bring a certified or file-stamped copy of the order to the Secretary of State's office. Please see Illinois Secretary of State facility locations for the location near you. If you are in Chicago, the office is located at 17 North State Street on the 10th floor.
Restricted driving permit when driver’s license is suspended
You may apply to the Secretary of State for a Restricted Driving Permit, or an RDP, to allow you to drive to work, school, or a doctor’s office. You would not be able to apply for the RDP if your license was suspended due to a second or third DUI charge within the past 5 years.
Suspended driver’s license and installment agreements
An installment agreement order must be certified or file-stamped by the court in the county where the judgment was entered and given to the Secretary of State's office. If you do not make all the payments on time, your license may be suspended again, so be careful about entering into a payment plan that you cannot afford.
How to get your suspended driver’s license back after an accident
If your license is suspended because of a car accident and you are uninsured, you must show the Secretary of State any one of the following:
- A court found not liable for the damages;
- The accident victim released you from liability with a document signed by both parties and notarized;
- Bankruptcy was filed and granted (does not apply to DUIs);
- An installment agreement was entered;
- A deposit in the amount of the damages was made into a security deposit account; or
- Wage garnishment order is in place.