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Iowa Driver in Illinois – Your License after DUI Charge

DUI – Getting Your Iowa Driver License & Your Illinois Driving Privileges Back When You Have Been Charged With An Illinois DUI

In Western Illinois, it’s not uncommon for people to both work and play at different points along the boarder between Illinois and Iowa. When the bars close around 1:45 in the morning in Iowa, drivers will often cross the boarder into Illinois to visit bars which stay open as late as 5:00 AM. Illinois law enforcement is aware of this, and Illinois DUI stops are frequent, if not indiscriminate, along the Illinois/Iowa border in the early hours of the morning.

For an Iowa driver charged with an Illinois DUI, the effects of the Illinois DUI charge on the individual’s Illinois driving privileges and Iowa driver license are fairly immediate and can be long term. This is because Iowa drivers who either refuse or submit to or fail an Illinois evidentiary breath test are subject to a civil suspension of their driving privileges in the State of Illinois. Then the Illinois Secretary of State informs the Iowa Department of Transportation (the “Iowa DOT”) of this suspension, and the Iowa DOT then reciprocally revokes the individual’s Iowa driver license for the refusal or failure of the Illinois evidentiary breath test.

For more detailed information on the Effect on An Iowa Driver’s License of an Illinois Breath Test Failure or Breath Test Refusal, please see our previous post on that topic.

Once a driver’s Iowa license has been revoked under these circumstances, the driver cannot get his or her Iowa license back until either: 1) the revocation period has expired, or 2) the Illinois civil suspension, termed the “Statutory Summary Suspension,” has been rescinded, and then only if the order rescinding the suspension is carefully crafted to comply with Iowa law.

The Iowa revocation can be rescinded only when the criminal court (Illinois) finds that either: (1) That the peace officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe that a violation of section 321J.2 or 321J.2A had occurred to support a request for or to administer a chemical test; or (2) That the chemical test was otherwise inadmissible or invalid.

Such a holding by the court in the criminal action is binding on the Iowa DOT, and the Iowa DOT is required to rescind the revocation. See Iowa Code § 321J.13 6(b).

The Iowa law does not expressly state at what point in the Illinois criminal case the required finding must be made. Obviously, the ideal scenario is that the Illinois criminal DUI case is favorably resolved. It would appear that what is required is to have an order tracking the foregoing language issued by the Illinois court, and it should not make any difference when the order is entered so long as the Illinois court retains jurisdiction of the matter.

Normally, the first step in the legal process is to file a Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension in the Illinois civil suspension case. This should be done as soon as possible. In order for this Petition to enable the Iowa driver to get both his Illinois driving privileges and his Iowa driver license back, the basis for the Petition must be that “the arresting officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe that [the Petitioner] was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or a combination thereof.” If, after hearing, the Illinois Court finds in the driver’s favor, the resulting order needs to be carefully drafted to serve as a basis for petitioning the Iowa DOT for reinstatement of the license.

If the driver does not win the petition to rescind the Summary Suspension, the next step is to prepare for trial and at the same time attempt to negotiate a favorable resolution with the State. Often, good things happen when you are prepared for trial. If negotiations are fruitful, the State may file a Motion to Withdraw Law Enforcement Sworn Report in the Illinois civil suspension case. The order granting the Motion to Withdraw Law Enforcement Sworn Report has to be specifically phrased in order for it to enable the Iowa driver to get both his Illinois driving privileges and his Iowa driver license back.

If the Illinois court issues the required order, the next step is to file a Petition to Re-Open with the Iowa DOT. The Petition to Re-Open should be filed by an Iowa attorney and should contain all information necessary to support the rescission of the revocation of an Iowa driver’s driving privileges. A certified copy of the order granting the Illinois rescission should be obtained and made an exhibit to the Petition.

Normally, an individual’s Iowa driver license was revoked by the Iowa DOT due to the driver’s refusal or failure of the Illinois evidentiary breath test. Iowa law, however, also provides that an individual’s Iowa driver license can be revoked upon the Iowa DOT receiving notice of an Iowa driver’s conviction on the Illinois DUI charge. See Iowa Administrative Code 761-615.30, implementing Iowa Code section 321.205.

This is where both the speed and type of resolution of the Illinois criminal DUI case becomes important. Our experience with the Iowa DOT suggests that it is their position that – if the initial revocation period for a failed or refused breath test has been rescinded in a case where the individual ultimately pleas to the DUI charge – the driver will be subject to a new revocation period as a result of this conviction which may not be reduced by the period served on the rescinded revocation period. However, in a case where the driver is found not guilty, is able to have the Illinois DUI charge dismissed, or to plea to a lesser offense, such as reckless driving, no additional revocation period should be imposed.

If the driver wishes to avoid the risk of trial and plea to the DUI charge, it is best if this is done close in time to an Order granting the Motion to Withdraw Law Enforcement Sworn Report or other order rescinding the Illinois statutory summary suspension so that the resolution of both the Illinois civil suspension case and the Illinois criminal DUI case is known when preparing the Petition to Re-Open. Then, the Iowa DOT can be advised of the disposition of the Illinois DUI charge at the time of the Petition to Re-Open, which should ensure that any Iowa DOT revocation period imposed is reduced by the period previously served on the Illinois rescinded revocation period.

Sometimes, for a “first offender”, a negotiated plea can be entered including “court supervision”, which if successfully completed, results in dismissal of the Illinois case. It is also the position of the Iowa Department of Transportation that an Iowa driver who receives court supervision in Illinois under 730 ILCS §5/5-6-1(c), will receive the same treatment under Iowa law as a driver who receives a deferred judgment under Iowa Code § 907.3. Pursuant to Iowa Code. § 321J.4(3), a deferred judgment granted for violation of Iowa Code § 321J.2 (Operating While Intoxicated) results in the suspension of the Iowa driver’s driving privileges “for a period of not less than thirty days nor more than ninety days” if no other statutory grounds for revocation of a defendant’s license exists.

While this may seem to indicate that a driver who has already served 30 days of his revocation period is done, Iowa Administrative Code provides that “the revocation period under Iowa Code subsection 321J.4(3) shall be 90 days.” See Iowa Administrative Code 761-620.10. Still, it is important to advise the Iowa Department of Transportation that the individual received a disposition of court supervision in the Illinois criminal DUI case since this basically cuts in half the usual 180 day revocation period.

Experienced Illinois DUI attorneys should be aware of these issues and have Iowa licensed lawyers on staff or otherwise available to assist the Iowa driver in minimizing the effects of the Illinois DUI charge on the driver in Illinois and Iowa.