Many people ask me as a license reinstatement lawyer in Illinois what the difference between a formal and informal Administrative hearing is. While in my practice I have done many of both kinds of hearings, both formal and informal, there used to be a very big difference between the two. Now, however, there is very little difference between a formal and an informal hearing.
Let's start with the differences… Formal hearings with the Secretary of State have four people in the room as opposed to three for an informal. Formal hearings have the following: 1. Client; 2. Lawyer; 3. Secretary of State Lawyer; 4. Administrative Hearing Officer. Informal hearings have everybody except the lawyer representing the Secretary of State. Next, the formal hearing is recorded while the informal hearing is not. You need an appointment and a $50 filing fee for the formal hearing while you do not for an informal hearing.
Similarities… Both hearings require the same treatment be completed prior to being allowed to proceed. They also now use the same questions at the hearing. Both are stressful unless you have been prepared by a reinstatement lawyer.