How to Obtain an Illinois Driver’s License

Illinois Drivers License RequirementsRegardless of whether you need to apply for a driver’s license in Illinois due to a recent move, the need to reinstate the license after a suspension or because it is the first time you’ve ever applied; it is extremely important to understand the process you need to follow so that you can avoid significant fines and court costs. This guide will help you understand the types of licenses available for drivers in the state and how you can go about obtaining one. Do make sure that you obtain a license before getting behind the wheel, as the penalties for driving without a valid license can be serious.

Types of Driver’s Licenses in Illinois

The State of Illinois offers numerous types of licenses that are meant for specific purposes, so it is important to understand the limitations of the license that you apply for and how to ensure that you remain compliant. Following are the most common forms of licenses in this state.

  • Class D licenses— the majority of drivers in the state have this type of license and it permits the operation of any type of passenger vehicle, including vans and pickup trucks. These vehicles must be operated for private purposes such as commuting to work or for pleasure.
  • GDL licenses— these are temporary licenses granted primarily to teenagers who are participating in the Graduated License Program. Teenage drivers must drive only under the supervision of a licensed driver while in possession of a permit and must pass their Driver’s Education classes before becoming eligible to apply for a license.
  • Class M licenses— these licenses permit the operation of motorcycles and licensees must pass a state mandated motorcycle class in order to apply and test for this type of license.
  • CDL— the commercial driver license is granted to those who must drive commercial vehicles for a living.

These are the most common forms of licenses available, but there are other licenses that serve unique purposes. To obtain a license, you cannot be serving a license suspension, have had your license revoked or been declared unfit to drive by the court for any reason.

How to Obtain a License after an Out of State Move

If you have just moved to Illinois, you are granted 90 days before you must obtain a license from the state. Once you apply for your license, you must give up your previous license from the state where you resided previously. You must also prove that you are who you say you are with the following forms of proof.

  • Your social security card
  • A state ID, driver’s license or passport, which can verify your date of birth
  • Proof of residency such as a utility bill or bank statement
  • Your written signature, which can be verified using a canceled check or passport

You will be required to pass a written exam covering the Illinois Rules of the Road, a vision test and a driving test to ensure that you are aware of the laws you must follow while behind the wheel. If you wear glasses or contacts, you will be required to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles at the time of your test and your license will be contingent upon you wearing the same corrective lenses while driving that you used to pass the vision test.

Prior to taking the written exam and driving test, you can obtain a copy of the Illinois Rules of the Road from any driver services facility so that you can familiarize yourself with the laws and prepare for the tests. Once you have passed the tests, you must then pay a fee of $30 for the license and renew it every four years until the age of 80. This fee drops to $5 once you reach the age of 69 and drops subsequently as you get older until your renewals are free. Between the ages of 81 and 86, you will be required to renew your license every two years and then every year after that.

Obtaining a License with a Medical Condition

Some medical conditions can place drivers at an elevated risk of causing an accident and for this reason, the state requires drivers with physical disabilities, vision impairment and mental health concerns to have their physicians complete a medical report stating that they are fit to operate a vehicle. If you have a medical condition and are unsure of whether you need to have this report filed to remain compliant, you can contact the Department of Motor Vehicles for clarification.

How to Obtain a License if you are Not a Citizen

If you are living in the State of Illinois temporarily, are not eligible to receive a social security number and can provide documents verifying your legal presence, you may obtain a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License. You can only obtain the license if you have at least six months remaining for your authorized stay and your original authorization was for a year or more. You will be required to show all of the same documents needed to obtain a Class D license with the exception of your social security number and be required to pass the same tests. In place of proof of a social security number, you will be required to provide verification that you are not eligible to receive one.

Obtaining a Learning Permit as an Adult

In the event that you feel the need to obtain a learner’s permit prior to taking your written exam and driver’s test, you may apply at one of these specific branches of the Department of Motor Vehicles: Chicago North, Chicago West, Rockford, Macomb, Springfield, Bloomington, Champaign and Carbondale. You are not required as an adult to obtain a learner’s permit prior to testing, but some people feel the need to practice beforehand.

Understanding the requirements to obtain your driver’s license and make sure it remains valid will ensure that you do not incur expensive penalties should you be pulled over without a valid license. If you have any additional questions or require more information, you may contact the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles.

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