Years ago, you were arrested in Illinois.  You ignored your court date, although you believe there is an outstanding warrant against you.  This did not trouble you for some years, because you live out of state and did not intend to return.  But now you are taking charge of your life, and you want to clear up the past.  You also worry that a routine traffic stop in your state could end up with you in jail.

Can your Illinois arrest cause problems in your new state? Or will the warrant expire automatically?  If not, what can you do?

First, be aware that arrest warrants generally do not expire. Therefore, if the new state finds the old warrant, you risk spending up to 30 days in jail before you are turned over to Illinois.

But there are steps you can take to clear up your problem.  First, you should hire an Illinois attorney who is familiar with the judges and prosecutors in your former case’s jurisdiction. The attorney can then petition the court to vacate the old warrant and explain the circumstances surrounding your failure to appear in the original case.  Knowing the players will help the attorney assess the best time to file the motion and best arguments to use on your behalf. You will likely need to appear in person for this hearing and will probably not be allowed to appear on zoom.

Often, a judge will vacate your old warrant and allow the case to proceed.  You will then need the attorney to defend you at trial or work out a plea agreement.  At times, the underlying charges may even be dismissed, although this result varies tremendously from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and depends on the severity of your original charges.   With an ordinary DUI, clearing the old case may help undo any driver’s license suspension.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)


About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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