The Value of Summary Suspension Hearings

Evan Randall Uncategorized

In the vast majority of Driving Under the Alcohol cases, the criminal case is accompanied by a civil one: the Statutory Summary Suspension.

What is the Statutory Summary Suspension?

When an officer requests that a person submit to chemical testing to determine the Blood Alcohol Concentration, and the driver either refuses or blows over 0.08, their driver’s license will be suspended on the 46th day following the law enforcement sworn report.

How Long Will the Suspension Last?

The duration of the Statutory Summary Suspension can best be illustrated in a table.

First Time DUI Offender Repeat DUI Offender
Submit Test – Over 0.08 6 months 12 months
Refused Test 12 months 36 months

It is important to define exactly what a “First Time DUI Offender” is for the purposes of Statutory Summary Suspension hearings. Even someone who has previously received court supervision, or even a conviction, for Driving Under the Influence can be considered a First Time Offender if the prior criminal charge occurred more than 5 years before the current arrest.

What About Deadlines?

Yes! There are deadlines to file a Petition to Rescind that must be strictly adhered to. This Petition must be filed in court no later than 90 days after the Sworn report is served.

The Right to Timely Hearings.

Once a Petition to Rescind is filed, drivers are entitled to a hearing within 30 days. If a hearing is not conducted within the 30 days nd the delay was not caused by the driver, the Petition to Rescind must be granted.

How Do Statutory Summary Suspension Hearings Work?

It is important to note that in these types of hearings, unlike the related criminal case, the driver has the burden of proof. This means that the driver has to make a showing that they were not under the influence of intoxicating compounds or that the result of any chemical test are invalid or suspect. Once this is accomplished, the burden of proof then shifts to the prosecution to prove otherwise. People v Orth, 124 Ill 2d 326, 530 NE2d 210 (1988).

Discovery In Statutory Summary Suspension Hearings.

Given that these hearings are civil in nature, drivers are able to utilize modes of discovery that are otherwise inapplicable in the associated criminal case. Chiefly, these include Requests to Admit pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 216 and Notice to Produce pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 214. Prosecutors need to timely respond to both of these discovery requests and their failure to do so may form the basis for the granting of a Petition to Rescind.

Defective Sworn Reports.

The Law Enforcement Sworn Report is essentially the pleading that initiates Statutory Summary Suspension proceedings. The Sworn Report can contain defects that do not establish a cause of action. Common defects include:

  • Inaccurate time stated – if the Sworn Report states a time of test that came before the time the warning
  • Incorrect dates – the date on the Sworn Report must precede the date of analysis
  • Jurisdiction – the venue must be within the court’s jurisdictional reach
  • Sworn report not verified (signed) by the officer

This is by no means a comprehensive list. We have seen all sorts of errors and omissions on Law Enforcement Sworn Reports!

What If I Lose the Hearing?

Statutory Summary Suspension hearings are never considered a loss for the driver. Even if the court denies the Petition to Rescind, the driver would have gained invaluable knowledge by conducting the proceeding. Good criminal defense attorneys use Statutory Summary Suspension hearings to collect discovery they otherwise couldn’t in the  criminal case, examine the police officer and evidence against the driver, and test the strength of certain arguments. Criminal cases for driving under the influence are often decided following Statutory Summary Suspension hearings.

How We Can Help

If you or someone you know has been pulled over in McHenry County and is charged with Driving Under the Influence, then it is important to engage legal representation as soon as practical. As stated above, there are deadlines that must be followed and the sooner a skilled defense attorney can begin on a case, the better.

We have conducted countless Statutory Summary Suspension hearings involve many of the local police departments: Woodstock, Harvard, Huntley, Lake oin the Hills, Crystal Lake, Marengo, Bull Valley, Fox Lake, Island Lake, McHenry County Sheriff… the list goes on and on!