Most people know that a charge for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Illinois is a criminal offense that requires legal representation. What many people don’t know, however, is that there is a civil component associated with being charged with a DUI. This is known as a statutory summary suspension of your driver’s license. So what is a statutory summary suspension and how do you address it if you are facing one?
What is a Statutory Summary Suspension?
As previously mentioned, there is a civil, or non-criminal, issue that typically occurs when you are charged with a DUI.
After being arrested for DUI, the arresting officer is supposed to read you a Warning to Motorists. Basically, this warning tells you the consequences to your driver’s license if you submit to or refuse chemical testing.
If you submit a BAC sample over .08, or a 5 mg/ml of blood for THC or any amount of a controlled substance in your blood, you face a statutory summary suspension of 6 months for a first-time offender. If you refuse chemical testing, you face a 12-month suspension for a first-time offender.
This possible suspension is supposed to take effect 46 days after you are arrested for DUI. This is an administrative action that is administered by the Secretary of State against your driving privileges.
What is a Petition to Rescind a Statutory Summary Suspension?
Now, just because you are facing a possible Statutory Summary Suspension, or SSS, it does not necessarily mean that your license will, in fact, be suspended for 6 to 12 months.
There is a way to challenge the suspension taking effect with a Petition to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension. This is often abbreviated to a PTR hearing or a PTRSSS.
The reason why you are allowed to have a hearing is because a driver’s license is a property interest and as such, it is protected by due process of law. Basically, your property (your driving privileges) cannot be taken from you without being afforded an opportunity to challenge the suspension. But, in order to request a hearing, there are filing requirements that must be completed prior to having a hearing.
First, filing for a PTRSSS is time-sensitive and must be filed within ninety (90) days after being arrested for DUI. If you do not file your petition to rescind within the 90-day time-period, you will not be able to have a hearing on your petition. This goes into the next aspect of a PTRSSS, and that’s the burden of proof.
What is the burden of proof?
In a Petition to Rescind hearing, the petitioner (“driver”) bears the burden of proof. What this means is that it is the person whose license is being suspended that must convince a judge that their license shouldn’t be suspended. The legal standard or burden of proof is by a “preponderance of the evidence.” A preponderance of the evidence is a lower legal standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
An easier way to understand preponderance is to think of a scale being perfectly even on both sides. Whoever tips the scale ever-so-slightly in their direction wins the day.
If the petitioner convinces the judge that the scale has been tilted in their direction, they win and the Petition to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension will be granted, ending the suspension. Conversely, if the judge believes the State’s Attorney has tilted the scale in the State’s direction, the petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension will be denied and the suspension will be upheld for its duration.
What is the basis for winning a Petition To Rescind hearing?
There are only five (5) bases to argue in court to convince a judge to rescind the suspension. The 5 arguments that can be made are as follows:
- Not being properly placed under arrest for an offense as defined in 625 ILCS 5/11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol/Drugs) or a similar provision of a local ordinance, as evidenced by the issuance of a Uniform Traffic Ticket or other form of charge.
- The arresting officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe that I was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs, or a combination thereof.
- I was not properly warned by the arresting officer as provided in 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1(c) of the Illinois Vehicle Code.
- I did not refuse to submit to and/or complete the required chemical test or tests, pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1(d) of the Illinois Vehicle Code, upon the request of the arresting officer.
- I submitted to the requested test or tests but the test sample of my blood alcohol concentration did not indicate a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
Once a PTRSSS has been filed with the Clerk of the Court, a petitioner is entitled to a hearing on one of these issues within thirty (30) days.
Prior to commencing a hearing on the PTRSSS, the petitioner must make a decision as to which basis they will be arguing. A petitioner can choose to argue however many bases they choose, but in order to prevail, they must convince a judge by a preponderance of the evidence to one of the five bases.
There are also instances where the State’s Attorney is unable to answer ready for a hearing within the 30-day time period. In instances like this, the Summary Suspension is granted and rescinded, effectively ending the suspension.
Finally, it should be noted that not every DUI case has a basis to argue a PTRSSS. In some instances, you can be found not guilty of a DUI but have to serve the duration of the Statutory Summary Suspension. Each case is unique and whether or not you have an argument to contest the Statutory Summary Suspension can be better determined by the advice of an attorney who is experienced in conducting Petitions to Rescind a Statutory Summary Suspension.