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Driving on a Suspended License

Police Sting, Driving On a Suspended License, Code Name:
Operation Off-Road

It’s a matter of common sense-everyone knows that if your driver’s license is suspended, you are not supposed to drive. However, in the city of Chicago, over 25,000 people get tickets for driving with a suspended or revoked license every year, and many continue to drive. To address this ongoing problem, in 2001, Chicago police initiated what they dubbed “Operation Off-Road.” Operation Off-Road is a sting operation in which undercover police officers attend court hearings in which a driver has his license suspended. After the hearing, the officer follows the person with the suspended license out of the courthouse to see if he decides to flaunt the law and drive home, even with a suspended license. If the person gets in a car and drives off, the officer arrests him on the spot for driving with a suspended license.

The Chicago police began Operation Off-road after noticing the positive public response to a series of articles in the Chicago Sun-Times Newspaper called “Why Do They Drive?” A reporter would loiter around the courthouse, waiting for an unsuspecting person who just had his license suspended or revoked. These articles put a spotlight on the problem by publishing the names and pictures of these unlicensed scofflaws. The Sun-Times exposed dozens of these drivers. In the first three weeks of Chicago’s Operation Off-Road, over 100 people were arrested for driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Among the people who were caught by Operation Off-Road were the following:

  • A 28 year-old man was arrested in his car in the court parking lot

  • A 28 year-old man with 27 prior arrests for driving with a suspended or revoked license

  • A 21 year-old man who told the judge that he had taken public transportation to the court

  • A 41 year-old man who had just plead guilty in a plea agreement that would keep him out of jail and who told the judge that he was

  • going to get his mother to drive him home—the probation violation sent him to jail

  • A 38 year-old woman with four suspensions on her record was caught, arrested and held on $75,000 bail

How One’s License Becomes Suspended

There are several reasons why your license may become suspended. Some of the more common reasons include the following:

Financial Responsibility-“04” Suspension (625 ILCS 5/7-301)

This type of suspension relates to the obligations of a driver to be financially responsible. If you are involved in an automobile accident in the State of Illinois, you are required to establish financial responsibility by filing an accident report, which contains insurance information and is filed with the Illinois Department of Transportation. If you fail to comply with this requirement, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended and will remain suspended until you comply with the statute.

Financial Responsibility-“05” Suspension (625 ILCS 5/7-301)

Suspensions titled “05” are similar to “04” suspensions. Your license was automatically suspended for failure to purchase or maintain the required SR22 automobile insurance.

Judgment Suspension-“06” Suspension (625 ILCS 5/7-303)

This type of suspension results from an unsatisfied civil judgment entered against a driver who was involved in an accident. A “06” suspension remains in effect until one of the following occurs:

  • The judgment debtor pays or settles the judgment;

  • The judgment debtor files a petition for relief under the federal bankruptcy code pursuant to Chapter 7; or

  • An installment payment agreement has been reached between the judgment debtor and judgment creditor (a breach of this agreement will cause a re-suspension of driving privileges.).

Failure to Appear Suspension- “09” Suspension (625 ILCS 5/6-306.3 )

This is the most common reason for a suspended license violation. This suspension occurs in those instances where a defendant has given his or her driver’s license as bail or executed a promise to comply when issued a traffic ticket and has failed to attend court or respond to the citation. The suspension remains in effect until the driver goes to court and responds to the previously issued citation.

Auto Emission Suspension- “18” Suspension (625 ILCS 5/13B-55)

A “18” suspension arises when the defendant has failed to comply with the requirements of the vehicle emission and inspection laws.

For further information on license suspensions for various offenses, visit the Cook County Court website at http://www.cookcountycourt.org/traffic_court/suspensions/content.html.

Charged with DUI

If you were charged with a DUI, you will automatically receive a suspension of driving privileges in Illinois if you fail to take action. This suspension is known as a statutory summary suspension. In addition, if you were arrested for DUI, you should not wait for the first court date to contact an attorney; do so immediately to preserve your rights. Delay in contacting an attorney can result in the loss of certain rights. A petition can be filed before a judge to rescind the statutory summary suspension. This must be filed no later than 90 days after the date of arrest and must be based on specific grounds allowed by the Illinois DUI statute.Consult your attorney for further information on the procedural requirements for a petition for judicial review to reinstate driving privileges.

The court recognizes that losing the ability to drive may impose a severe hardship to persons who do not have an alternative form of transportation. Persons charged with a DUI offense who have not had a prior alcohol related offense may petition the court for a Judicial Driving Permit (JDP). The purpose of the JDP is to allow the petitioner to drive on a restricted license to certain destinations. If a person has had more than one alcohol related offense in the past five years, the person may petition for a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP). For further information on whether or not you are eligible for a JDP or RDP, consult your attorney.

Consequences

Driving with a suspended or revoked license is generally a Class A misdemeanor. A Class “A” misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, or a fine ranging from $1 to $2,500, or both jail time and a fine. If you are caught operating a commercial motor vehicle with a suspended license, your license will automatically be revoked. For further information on the penalties that may apply for driving on a suspended or revoked license, visit the Cook County Court website at: http://www.cookcountycourt.org/traffic_court/your_rights.html#misdemeanor.

If you are cited for driving with a suspended or revoked license, you should contact an experienced attorney. Your attorney can protect your rights and may have your license reinstated before your first court appearance. Whatever you do, do not continue driving with a suspended or revoked license. The police and newspapers are watching and the consequences are simply not worth it.

A lawyer experienced in defending people accused of DUI can help you avoid having your license suspended, or can assist you with petitioning the court for a judicial or restricted driving permit. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact Chicago DUI defense attorney Ava George Stewart by e-mail or call (312) 944-3973 to schedule a free consultation.