So, you won a “not guilty” on your DUI case and now it’s time to get your license back, right? Not so fast.
In Illinois, a DUI charge launches two separate proceedings:
1) The more obvious proceeding is the criminal case, in which the State must prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
2) The not-so-obvious one is a civil statutory summary suspension hearing.
Summary suspension hearings are triggered by an automatic suspension of a DUI defendant’s driving privileges. (Click here to read our blawg on automatic statutory summary suspensions!) The summary suspension hearing is requested by the defendant (or, more likely, the defendant’s attorney) in an attempt to lift the automatic suspension of the defendant’s driving privileges. As mentioned above, these hearings are civil, not criminal.
What’s the difference between the criminal and civil proceeding?
In a criminal case, a defendant’s guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, however, the standard of proof is “by a preponderance of the evidence,” which basically means more likely than not. Since it is the defendant requesting the statutory summary suspension hearing, it is the defendant who must show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the summary suspension should be lifted. If the defendant either fails to meet this burden, or if the defendant simply doesn’t request a hearing, the suspension of the defendant’s driving privileges will stay in place.
Okay, what does all this mean?
Basically, it means that a defendant can “win” the DUI case because the State failed to prove him/her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but still lose his/her driving privileges because the defendant either “lost” the summary suspension hearing or did not request one.
Summary suspension hearings happen very quickly, so it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. If you have been charged with a DUI or have had a statutory summary suspension issued against you, contact the Criminal Defense Group at (773) 893-0252.