Getting Your Illinois Driver’s License

Getting Your Illinois Driver’s License

by Zutobi · Updated Mar 17, 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!

Instruction Permit (15-17 years old)

The first step to your license starts with the Illinois instruction permit, also known as a learner’s permit.

  • You need to be at least 15 years old to apply.
  • You must be enrolled, or have recently completed, a driver’s education course.
  • A parent or guardian must sign consent and accept financial responsibility.
  • You must pass the written knowledge test.
  • You will need to hold your permit for a minimum of 9 months before you can progress.

If you would like to know more about the process of getting a learner’s permit, the requirements, and the restrictions – see our in-depth guide.

Illinois Initial Driver’s License (Ages 16-17)

The Illinois 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. 

Initial License Requirements

  • 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.

The Steps to Getting Your Initial License

  1. Practice under your permit for nine months before you can apply
  2. Visit your local Illinois 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?

An initial driver’s license will let you drive unsupervised in Illinois, but 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.

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. This also applies if you have an adult driver’s license.

Class D Adult Driver’s License (18+)

If you are over 18 years of age,  you can go straight to your full 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.

Adult Driver’s License Requirements

  • 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

The Steps to Getting Your Full Illinois Driver’s License

  • Visit your local Illinois 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 Illinois driver’s license will come in the mail in approximately 15 days.
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