Bankruptcy Might Help if Unpaid Parking Tickets Result in Your Driver’s License Suspension

Bankruptcy Might Help if Unpaid Parking Tickets Result in Your Driver's License Suspension

Provided as an educational service by Richard Fonfrias, J.D. Chicago’s Financial Rescue & Bankruptcy Lawyer Fonfrias Law Group, LLC

Recently the police ticketed a woman for driving with a suspended driver’s license.

She discovered that her driver’s license had been suspended because of her unpaid parking tickets. This lady asked me how her license could be suspended without her knowledge, what kind of penalties she faced, and how she could get her driver’s license reinstated while she was looking for ways to come up with money to pay the tickets.

In most cases, you must pay the parking tickets before the state will reactivate your driver’s license. This can be especially troublesome if you need your car to earn a living – or if you drive for a living.

Here’s how filing for bankruptcy an help: If you file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – the debt repayment program – then your license will be reinstated before you pay off your tickets. This allows you to drive, earn a living, and pay your tickets.

The State of Illinois can suspend your driver’s license for many reasons, including:

  • Having ten or more unpaid parking tickets,
  • Having three speeding tickets in one year,
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or another substance,
  • Having been declared by a court of suffering from any mental disability or disease, or
  • Committing sex crimes while operating a motor vehicle.

Notification: In Illinois, within 10 days of when you move, you are required to notify the Secretary of State’s office with your change of address. If you moved and did not report your move, then the notification about your driver’s license suspension probably went to your old address and may never have reached you.

Penalties: Driving with a suspended license is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable with a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of $1000. Since the suspension was for parking tickets – and since you didn’t receive notification – it’s highly unlikely that the court would impose the maximum penalties.

Law: How the Secretary of State gives and suspends driver’s licenses is spelled out in the Illinois Vehicle Code. According to this code, if a city certifies to the Secretary of State that “the owner of a registered vehicle has failed to pay any fine or penalty due and owing as a result of 10 or more violations of a municipality’s vehicular stand, parking, or compliance regulations,” then the Secretary of State shall suspend the person’s driver’s license.

Interpretation: This appears to mean that the 10 tickets must be from the same town or city, and not a total of 10 tickets from various jurisdictions.

Notice: Before your license suspension, the Secretary of State must send you a 45-day warning, which allows you time to pay your tickets before they suspend your license. After the 45 days, the Secretary of State must give you yet another warning and opportunity to pay before it suspends your license. Once your license is suspended, the Secretary of State must send you a notice immediately, demanding that you surrender your driver’s license.

License Reinstatement: After your license is suspended, it’s likely too late to contest the parking tickets. At this point, you must pay off your tickets – and pay a reinstatement fee – before your license will be reinstated.

And, to make matters worse, you’ll no doubt receive a second driver’s license suspension because you previously drove on a suspended license. This, too, will require you to pay another reinstatement fee.

Fine: Even worse, these penalties are simply to get your license reinstated. Now you may have to pay another fine for getting caught while driving on a suspended license.