Driving with Suspended License in Chicago

Driving with a Suspended License Is a Serious Offense in Chicago

In order to legally drive in Illinois, one of the most important requirements is to have a valid driver’s license. But what happens when your driver’s license gets suspended?

If you are caught driving with a suspended driver’s license in Chicago, you have a high risk of being arrested. While there are numerous police and sheriff’s departments who might execute a traffic stop on your vehicle, all departments utilize the same Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS), an online data base, which provides the status of your driver’s license.

If you are charged with driving with a suspended license (DWLS), there is no mens rea requirement for the offense, meaning, you can be charged with DWLS and not even know, or have intended, to do it. DWLS is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries with it a maximum penalty, on a first-time offense, of up to 364 days in the Cook County Department of Corrections, a fine of up to $2,500, or some combination of both. Due to the possible penalties of jail time for this offense, judges will require you to obtain the services of an attorney.

How Past DWLS Charges Could Affect You

Penalties for DWLS also depends if it is the first time you have been charged with DWLS, or if you have prior citations for DWLS. Typically, a first-time offender for DWLS is eligible for court supervision and community service, along with a possible fine and court costs. After receiving supervision for DWLS, drivers are generally not eligible to receive supervision. If you continue to drive while your license is suspended, and again get ticketed for DWLS, the charge can be upgraded to a Class 4, 2 or 1 felony, which depends on the amount of prior violations and the cause of the suspension. The consequences of being found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony DWLS only get more severe if you have multiple prior charges for DWLS.

How Your Driver’s License Could Get Suspended

Often times, drivers were unaware their driver’s license was suspended. Suspensions occur for a variety of reasons. The most common include:

  • Failure to pay traffic tickets
  • Failure to appear in court for a traffic ticket
  • Judgment on a bond forfeiture for a traffic ticket
  • Ex-parte conviction for a traffic ticket
  • Three or more traffic convictions within a 12 months period
  • Failure to pay toll fees
  • Unpaid parking tickets
  • Failure to pay child support
  • Statutory summary suspension for DUI
  • Uninsured motorist accident
  • Failure to provide SR-22 insurance

If you are charged with DWLS, your case is likely to end up at the Daley Center in Chicago. The courtroom you are assigned is dictated by which officer wrote your DWLS citation.

Once assigned a courtroom, date and time, your appearance is required. DWLS is a criminal charge and a failure to appear in court could result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.

Before going to court for DWLS, contact an attorney familiar with these types of cases. Our team at Driver Defense Team is available to discuss your case and represent you. Contact us today at (312) 940-8330 to discuss your options.

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