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Getting Your Illinois Driver’s License

Getting Your Illinois Driver’s License

by Zutobi · Updated Jan 15, 2021

All drivers in Illinois are required by law to have a valid driver’s license or permit. The requirements can be a hassle to read through and figure out.

Don’t worry – we’ll break the entire process down for you so you know exactly what to expect, whether you’re a teen or adult looking to get your license!

Illinois Driver’s License Requirements

The requirements vary depending on your age. Teens under the age of 18 will need to complete additional requirements. We’ll break it down for you below.

Adult Requirements (18 Years or Older)

  • Submit proof of identity, residency, and authorized presence. You can find a list of state-approved documents here.
  • Pass the required tests
  • Turn in any other permits or licenses you own, including out-of-state
  • Have not been found by the court to be mentally incompetent, alcoholic, or a habitual user of illegal drugs
  • If you are age 18-20, you must complete a six hour state-approved Adult Driver Education Course if:
    • you are a first-time applicant AND
    • you have never been licensed AND
    • you never completed an approved drivers education program

Teen Requirements (16-17 years old)

  • Successfully complete a state-approved driver’s education course.
  • Complete and verify 50 hours of practice driving
  • Pass all three parts of the Driver’s License Exam.
  • A parent or guardian signs consent for you to drive and accepts financial responsibility.
  • Can submit proof of identity, residency, and authorized presence. You can find a list of state-approved documents here.
  • If you are under 18, you are NOT allowed to drive commercial vehicles or for-hire vehicles used to transport property (like delivery vans and moving trucks). Nor any other vehicle that requires a commercial license to drive.
  • If you are under 21, you are not allowed to drive any vehicle for hire that transports more than ten people, like a church bus or commuter van. You also cannot operate vehicles meant to transport children or senior citizens (such as a senior center van or school/childcare bus).

Instruction Permit

If you have turned 15, the first step to your license starts with the Illinois instruction permit, also known as a learner’s permit.

How to Get Your IL Instruction Permit

To obtain a permit, you must complete the following steps on top of your basic eligibility requirements listed above:

  1. You must be currently enrolled in or within thirty days of graduating an approved Driver’s Education course. These courses consist of 30 hours of classroom instruction and 6 hours of driving instruction.
  2. Visit your local Secretary of State facility. Depending on your location, an appointment may be required to complete your application.
  3. Present proof of identity, residency, Social Security number, and lawful presence in the United States. Examples of approved documents include:
    • Certified Birth Certificate
    • Social Security Card
    • Medicare card
    • School transcripts
    • Bank statements
    • A cell phone bill in your name for residency
  4. Take a vision exam. You need a minimum score of 20/40 with or without corrective lenses. If you need corrective lenses to pass the test, your permit will indicate that you are required to wear them while driving. A score of 20/40 or greater is limited to daytime driving only. You must also demonstrate a peripheral vision of 140 degrees.
  5. Take a written exam. This consists of identifying signs, signals, multiple-choice questions about materials covered in the Illinois Rules of the Road Handbook. It consists of 35 questions, and you will have to get 28 correct to pass.
  6. Pay the required fee to receive your permit.

Learner’s Permit Restrictions

You will have to hold your permit for at least nine months before you can apply for a driver’s license.

Once you have your permit, you’ll have limited freedom to drive. Make sure to always have your permit and a parent, guardian, or another driving supervisor with you – this person must be at least 21, have a valid driver’s license, and have at least one year of driving experience to be a driving supervisor.

Before you can progress, you also need to log at least 50 hours of driving practice, 10 of which must be at night. 

In general, you will not be allowed to drive:

  • between 10 PM and 6 AM (Sunday-Thursday)
  • Between 11 PM and 6 AM (Friday-Saturday) 

Please note that until you are 19, you are prohibited from using all cell phones or texting devices, even with hands-free technology.

Initial Drivers License (Ages 16-17)

The Initial Driver’s License is a more restricted version of the Adult driver’s license. It allows you to drive unsupervised, except for a specific curfew. It also limits the number of non-family members you can have in the vehicle with you as you gain driving experience. 

The Steps to Getting Your Initial License

  1. Practice under your permit for nine months before you can apply
  2. Visit your local SOS office. You may need to schedule an appointment in advance, depending on the location.
  3. Bring the following documents with you:
    • Your Illinois learner’s permit
    • Acceptable forms of identification
    • If you are under 18, a parent or guardian must sign their consent for you to drive with an initial driver’s license. Because they are financially liable for what you do on the road, they reserve the right to also revoke that privilege at any time.
    • Cooperative Driver Testing Certificate, if applicable.
    • 50-hour driving log with proper signatures
    • You must also have a notation of successful completion of driver’s ed on your driving record. Check your Illinois driving record status here.
  4. Be prepared to pay the appropriate fees.
  5. Pass a vision test
  6. Pass your driving exam, unless you are exempt due to completion of the cooperative driver testing program requirements. This exemption is not guaranteed, so you should bring a roadworthy vehicle for the test and sharpen your road knowledge just in case.
  7. Take your picture
  8. Receive a temporary paper license. Your actual license will come in the mail in approximately 15 days. 

What are the Initial License Restrictions?

While you can drive unsupervised, you still have several restrictions to uphold. In general, you will not be allowed to drive:

  • between 10 PM and 6 AM (Sunday-Thursday)
  • Between 11 PM and 6 AM (Friday-Saturday) 

You are also limited in the number of passengers you can carry. For the first year or until you turn 18 (whichever comes first), you can not carry more than one non-family member under the age of 20 with you in the vehicle. After the time period ends, you can carry one person under the age of 20 in the front seat, and as many as there are seatbelts in the back seat.

Class D Adult Driver’s License

If you are over 18 years of age,  you can go straight to your adult Illinois driver’s license. You still have to complete a six-hour Adult Driver’s Ed course if you did not complete the graduated driver’s license program.

If you are over 21, the course is optional, but still highly recommended.

The Steps to Getting Your Full Illinois Driver’s License

  • Visit your local SOS office. You may need to schedule an appointment in advance, depending on the location.
  • Bring the following documents with you:
    • Your IL instruction permit
    • Acceptable forms of identification
    • If you are under 18, a parent or guardian must sign their consent for you to drive with an initial driver’s license. Because they are financially liable for what you do on the road, they reserve the right to also revoke that privilege at any time.
    • Cooperative Driver Testing Certificate, if applicable.
    • 50-hour driving log with proper signatures
    • You must also have a notation of successful completion of driver’s ed on your driving record. Check your Illinois driving record status here.
  • Be prepared to pay the appropriate fees.
  • Pass a vision test
  • Pass your driving exam, unless you are exempt due to completion of the cooperative driver testing program requirements. 
    • This exemption is not guaranteed, so you should bring a roadworthy vehicle for the test and sharpen your road knowledge just in case.
  • Take your picture
  • Receive a temporary paper license. Your actual license will come in the mail in approximately 15 days.

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