How to Obtain an Illinois Driver’s License
If you need a new driver’s license in Illinois due to a recent move, reinstate the license after a suspension or apply for a permit the first time, it is essential to understand the application process to avoid significant fines and court costs. This guide will help you understand the types of licenses available for Illinois motorists and the process to obtain one. It is crucial to get a license before getting behind the wheel because the penalties for driving without a valid license can be severe.
Types of Driver’s Licenses in Illinois
The State of Illinois issues various licenses with different limitations on operating a motorized vehicle. Drivers operating passenger vehicles, riding motorcycles, driving a commercial truck along with new motorists must obtain the correct license or permit based on their needs to remain compliant with Illinois law and traffic codes. The following list outlines the most common forms of licenses in this state.
- Class D licenses — Most Illinois drivers have a Class D license that permits the operation of any passenger vehicle, including vans and pickup trucks. Drivers must operate passenger vehicles only for private purposes such as commuting to work or for pleasure.
- GDL licenses — The DMV issues these temporary licenses primarily to teenagers who participate in the Graduated License Program. Teenage drivers can operate a passenger vehicle only while 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 are issued for operating motorcycles after licensees pass a state-mandated before class, fill in an application and pass a test for this type of license.
- CDL — The DMV issue commercial driver licenses to professional commercial vehicle drivers.
The DMV also issues other licenses that serve unique purposes. If applying for a new license, your current license cannot be suspended or revoked. The applicant cannot be declared unfit to drive by the court for any reason.
How to Obtain a License after an Out of State Move
Just moved to Illinois? Relocators are granted 90 days before they must obtain a license from the state. Once you apply for your license, the DMV will take your current 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.
Before 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 $30 fee 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 continues to drop as you age 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 increase a drivers risk of causing an accident. For this reason, the state requires drivers with physical disabilities, vision impairment, and mental health concerns to obtain a comprehensive medical report completed by a physician that state that the driver is 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. However, you can only obtain the license if you have at least six months remaining on 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, it will be necessary to verify that you are not eligible to receive one.
Obtaining a Learning Permit as an Adult
Young beginning drivers must obtain a learner’s permit before taking the written exam and driver’s test, and 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.
Every driver must maintain a valid license. If you have any additional questions or require more information, you may contact the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles.