Too many traffic tickets in one year will cause the Illinois Secretary of State to suspend your driver’s license.
The rule is, 3 convictions for moving violations in 12 months will result in suspension. The suspension is mandatory, not discretionary. In fact, it is applied by a computer program, not a person working for the Secretary of State. The program counts convictions on your driver’s record (called a driver’s abstract), and if you have three in one year, your license is suspended.
If you got pulled over and the police officer wrote you a traffic ticket, follow these steps to determine whether your license is subject to suspension.
First, you should check the charge on the ticket. The police officer will write the statute you are accused of violating on the face of the citation. What you are looking for is a moving violation, not an equipment violation.
For example, the Illinois Vehicle Code has almost all of its moving violations in Chapter 11. A speeding ticket, for example, is charged as 625 ILCS 5/11-601(b). The “11” means it is a moving violation in Chapter 11. If you see an 11 on the citation, you are safe to assume it is a moving violation. However, some moving violations are found in other sections of the code, such as 625 ILCS 5/6-101 (driving without a valid license).
An equipment violation, however, does not count towards the limit of three tickets in a year. Equipment violations include the following: no tail light, broken headlight, no seat belt, cracked windshield, loud muffler, etc. These offenses do not result in suspension because they are not moving violations.
Next you should check to see whether you are currently on court supervision. Traffic court in most counties will sentence the defendant to court supervision for 90 to 120 days (three to four months) for moving violations. At the end of the supervision term, if the driver has no other tickets and has paid the required fine and court costs, the ticket will be dismissed without a conviction.
The supervision period begins to run on the day the driver pleads guilty or is found guilty in traffic court. A new moving violation during court supervision will result in the revocation of your supervision and a conviction on the underlying ticket. That is, your court supervision will be revoked and you will be convicted of the charge for which you were on supervision. That new conviction will count towards the total of three tickets in one year.
This situation can be dangerous because could be convicted of two offenses at once, the old ticket and the new one, and suddenly, you have two moving violations in one year.
It is a good decision to hire a traffic attorney for your court date. (And I would say that whether you hire me or someone else.) The reason is, you cannot predict the future. You may be unlucky and get an additional moving violation in the next year. On the court date for the new ticket, the prosecutor may not agree to supervision, or the judge may rule you ineligible. The law in Illinois says you can get supervision for moving violations only twice in one year. See 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1(k).
And if you get pulled over in the next year, there is no certainty that the police officer will give you only one citation. The cop could write you as many tickets as he or she wants. Each new ticket can lengthen your suspension.
If you have any tickets from another state, it does not matter whether you got the minimum sentence for that ticket (such as that state’s version of court supervision). In Illinois, the Secretary of State will treat it as a conviction. If you get two more tickets in Illinois, the suspension will go into effect.
The length of your suspension is generally determined as follows:
- 0 through 14 points – No action.
- 15 through 44 points – 2 month suspension.
- 45 through 74 points – 3 month suspension.
- 75 through 89 points – 6 month suspension.
- 90 through 99 points – 9 month suspension.
- 100 through 109 points – 12 month suspension.
- 110 or more points – revocation (1 year).
See llinois Administrative Code 1040.30(b).
Speeding tickets are the most common offense, and the points assigned to your license are as follows:
- 11 to 14 MPH above the speed limit – 15 points.
- 15 to 25 MPH above the speed limit – 20 points.
- More than 25 MPH above the speed limit – 50 points.
As you can see, the points add up quickly.
As said, hiring a traffic lawyer is a good decision. If you are caught driving on a suspended license, it is a Class A misdemeanor offense for which you could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and ordered to pay a fine of $2,500. The judge has the authority to order community service as well. Once the suspension is in place, it is difficult to undo. And each new offense of driving while suspended will cause the Secretary of State to extend the suspension further.
It is not a defense to driving while license suspended to say that you did not know your license was suspended. Although the Secretary of State will send a notice in the mail, it will go to the address on file with the Secretary, which may or may not be your current residence. If you do not receive the notice, the court would say that it is your fault. Most people who are suspended did not know about it until they get arrested for driving while suspended.
Because driving while suspended is such a serious offense, you should consult with a lawyer whenever a traffic ticket threatens your driver’s license.