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Illinois Driver’s License Classifications

Illinois Drivers License Classifications

In Illinois, driver’s licenses are classified by the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of your vehicle.

Drivers seeking a basic license to operate a car in Illinois are issued a Class D license. Below, you will see all of the driver’s license classifications in the state of Illinois. Take note of the specific weight ratings and the license class required for each.

Driver’s License Classes In Illinois

  • Class A — Any combination of motor vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, providing that the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds. Does not include motorcycles or motor-driven cycles. (A CDL is generally required.)
  • Class B — Any single motor vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds. Does not include motorcycles or motor-driven cycles. (A CDL is generally required.)
  • Class C — Any motor vehicle with a GVWR of more than 16,000 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds; or any such vehicle towing another with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less; or any such vehicle designed to carry 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or hazardous materials that require placarding. Does not include motorcycles or motor-driven cycles.
  • Class D — Any motor vehicle with a GVWR of 16,000 pounds or less, except those vehicles requiring a Class A, B or C driver’s license or an L or M motorcycle license.
  • Class L — Any motor-driven cycle with less than 150cc displacement.
  • Class M — Any motorcycle or motor-driven cycle.

NOTE: Holders of a Class D license may also operate rental vehicles up to 26,000 pounds when transporting their own personal property or that of an immediate family member for non-business purposes within the State of Illinois. The driver is required and should be provided information to successfully complete a safety course regarding the safe operation of that vehicle from the rental company.

Certain licenses can be issued under special circumstances:

  • Probationary License — Issued in conjunction with a driver improvement activity that grants full driving privileges during a period of suspension for drivers age 21 and over. The license may only be issued to a person suspended for three moving violations in a 12-month period and cannot be issued for more than three months.
  • Restricted Local Driver’s License — Issued to drivers who live in communities with less than 3,500 residents and drive only within certain areas of the community.

How To Obtain A Class L Or M Motorcycle License In Illinois

In order to obtain a motorcycle license in Illinois such as a Class L or, more popularly, a Class M license, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a current valid state ID or driver’s license. You must have completed an Illinois driver’s ed course, passed a vision test, as well as a written exam.

You must also enroll into an Illinois motorcycle training program. Here are the Illinois motorcycle classes that are available in Illinois…

Illinois Basic Rider Course

The Basic Rider Course (BRC) provides approximately 20 hours of classroom and on-motorcycle instruction. In this course, you will develop and practice four fundamental riding skills:

  1. Straight-line riding
  2. Turning
  3. Shifting
  4. Stopping

Once the basic skills are honed, you will expand into street-riding skills, including:

  • Advanced turning techniques
  • Advanced braking techniques
  • Swerving

You will also learn and practice the mental skills needed to develop street-riding strategies and the ability to navigate special situations.

Basic Rider Course Eligibility

Any Illinois resident (16 or older) who holds a valid driver’s license or permit is eligible to register. All students must submit a signed Waiver or Release of Liability form at their first class.

Students younger than 18 should have a waiver form signed by a parent or guardian and bring it with them to the first class. A parent or guardian must be present when a student younger than 18 checks in for the first class session.

Protective Clothing Requirements

In addition to the waiver mentioned above, participants should bring protective clothing.
The following items are required:

  • Sturdy, over-the-ankle footwear (not cloth or canvas; boots suggested)
  • Long pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt or jacket
  • Gloves that cover the entire hands
  • Protective eyewear (any type of glasses that can be worn while operating a motorcycle/driving)

Helmets and motorcycles will be provided. Students are welcome to bring their own DOT-approved three-quarter or full-face helmets.

Licensing

A completion card will be mailed to all students who have successfully completed the Basic Rider Course. The BRC completion card will waive the Secretary of State motorcycle written and driving tests for those 18 and older. Students 16–17 years old will be able to apply for an “M” classification but are required to present the BRC completion card and take the written and riding tests at the Secretary of State Driver Services facility. The BRC completion card may also be used for insurance discounts, check with your insurance provider for additional details.

Registering for a Course

If you are interested in registering for the Basic Rider Course or would like more information, please contact your nearest Regional Center for registration instructions.

Illinois Basic Rider Course II (BRC2)

The BRC2 is designed for riders with previous experience who are returning to motorcycling or who have ridden for some time without a license. These riders may be returning riders who already passed the BRC but don’t have their own motorcycle, riders who would like additional training and practice before riding on the street or experienced dirt bike riders who want to start riding on the street.

This course offers an overview of the fundamentals of safe, responsible motorcycling and provides riders the opportunity to renew skills and acquire important knowledge for safe street operation. 

The BRC2 is approximately 10 hours of classroom and on-motorcycle instruction. Successful completion of the BRC2 requires passing both a written and riding evaluation.  

Basic Rider Course 2 Eligibility

  • Illinois residents who are at least 18 years old (on the first day of their course) are eligible to enroll in the BRC2 if they have a valid driver’s license or instruction permit and have previous experience operating a motorcycle.
  • Prerequisites: All BRC2 students are expected to possess reasonable proficiencies in basic motorcycle control operation, straight-line riding, upshifting, downshifting, turning, braking and stopping.  Riders unable to demonstrate these minimum expectations during the first riding sessions will not be allowed to continue the course, nor will they be given preferential enrollment into a basic course.

Protective Clothing Requirements

The following items are required:

  • Sturdy, over-the-ankle footwear (not cloth or canvas; boots suggested)
  • Long pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt or jacket
  • Gloves that cover the entire hands
  • Protective eyewear (any type of glasses that can be worn while operating a motorcycle/driving)

Helmets and motorcycles will be provided. Students are welcome to bring their own DOT-approved three-quarter or full-face helmets.

Licensing

A completion card will be mailed to all students who successfully complete the Basic Rider Course 2. The BRC2 completion card will waive the Secretary of State motorcycle written and driving tests for riders 18 and older. The BRC2 completion card may also be used for insurance discounts, check with your insurance provider for additional details.

Registering for a Course

If you are interested in registering for the Basic Rider Course 2 or would like more information, please contact your nearest Regional Center for registration instructions

3 Wheel Basic Rider Course (3WBRC)

The 3 Wheel Basic Rider Course (3WBRC) provides approximately 20 hours of classroom and on-motorcycle instruction. In this course, you will develop and practice four fundamental riding skills:

  1. Three-wheel motorcycle familiarization
  2. Shifting/stopping
  3. Adjusting speed and turning
  4. Stopping quickly

Once the basic skills are honed, you will expand into street-riding skills, including:

  • Advanced turning techniques
  • Advanced braking techniques
  • Swerving

You will also learn and practice the mental skills needed to develop street-riding strategies and the ability to navigate special situations.

3 Wheel Basic Rider Course Eligibility

Any Illinois resident (16 or older) who holds a valid driver’s license or permit is eligible to register. All students must submit a signed Waiver or Release of Liability form at their first class. Students younger than 18 should have a waiver signed by a parent or guardian and bring it with them to the first class. A parent or guardian must be present when a student younger than 18 checks in for the first session.

Protective Clothing Requirements 

In addition to the waiver mentioned above, participants should bring protective clothing. The following items are required:

  • Sturdy, over-the-ankle footwear (not cloth or canvas; boots suggested)
  • Long pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt or jacket
  • Gloves that cover entire hands
  • Protective eyewear (any type of glasses that can be worn while operating a motorcycle/driving)

Helmets and motorcycles will be provided. Students are welcome to bring their own DOT-approved three-quarter or full-face helmets.

Licensing

completion card stamped with J11 Restriction will be mailed to all students who have successfully completed the 3 Wheel Basic Rider Course. The completion card will waive the Secretary of State motorcycle written and driving tests for those 18 and older. Students 16–17 years old will be able to apply for an “M” classification but are required to present the BRC completion card and take the written and riding tests at the Secretary of State Driver Services facility. The 3WBRC completion card may also be used for insurance discounts, check with your insurance provider for additional details.

J11 Restriction

J11 restriction indicates the driver took the riding skill test on a three-wheel motorcycle (Class M) or three-wheel motor-driven cycle (Class L) and is restricted to a three-wheel cycle of the proper class.

Registering for a course

If you are interested in registering for the Three-Wheeled Basic Course or would like more information, please contact your nearest Regional Center for registration instructions

Advanced Rider Course

Participants will:

  1. Increase skills, knowledge, safety awareness and enjoyment
  2. Become familiar with motorcycle dynamics, survival strategies, emergency braking, countersteering and traction availability
  3. Practice precise steering techniques and correct braking methods under controlled conditions with Motorcycle Safety Foundation certified instructors
  4. Gain the knowledge necessary for further development of safe riding skills

Advanced Rider Course (ARC) Eligibility

ARC students must:

  • Provide their own street-legal motorcycle or have the owner’s written permission to use a borrowed street-legal motorcycle
  • Have a motorcycle endorsement to ride the motorcycle used in the ARC
  • Complete a waiver form and motorcycle safety inspection checklist (forms provided)
  • Show proof of motorcycle insurance at first class meeting

Protective Clothing Requirements

Participants should bring protective clothing.
The following items are required:

  • Sturdy, over-the-ankle footwear (not cloth or canvas; boots suggested)
  • Long pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt or jacket
  • Gloves that cover the entire hands
  • Protective eyewear (any type of glasses that can be worn while operating a motorcycle/driving)
  • DOT-approved helmet (must be at least three-quarter or full-face)

Licensing

A valid motorcycle license is required to take the ARC. Completion of the ARC does not waive the test requirements for obtaining a motorcycle license through the Secretary of State. The ARC completion card may be used for insurance discounts, check with your insurance provider for additional details.   

Registering for a Course

If you are interested in registering for the Advanced Rider Course or would like more information, please contact your nearest Regional Center for registration instructions.

How To Obtain A Class D Illinois Driver’s License

A class D driver’s license in Illinois is the most common type of driver’s license issued. With this license, you may operate any motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 16,000 pounds or less.

In order to obtain this license, you’ll need to study the Illinois Rules of the Road manual.

You’ll also need to sign up for either a teen driver’s ed course or a driver’s ed course for adults.

Finally, you will need to pass a written, vision, and driving exam.

If you are under the age of 18, you’ll be issued a graduated driver’s license.

How Graduated Driver’s Licenses Work In Illinois

Permit Phase Drivers Age 15

  • Parent/legal guardian consent required to obtain an instruction permit.
  • Must be enrolled in an approved driver education course, and must pass vision and written tests.
  • Nighttime driving restrictions — Sun.-Thurs., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (local curfews may differ).
  • Permit must be held for a minimum of nine months.
  • Must practice driving a minimum of 50 hours, including 10 hours at night, supervised by a parent or adult age 21 or older with a valid driver’s license.
  • Must not acquire any driving convictions during the nine-month permit phase.
  • Number of passengers limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
  • All occupants must wear safety belts.
  • Cell phone use while driving including a hands-free device, is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.
  • Permit is valid for up to two years.
Sanctions
  • To obtain court supervision for a traffic violation, a driver must appear in court with a parent/legal guardian and also must attend traffic safety school. Limit one court supervision for serious driving offenses.
  • A moving violation conviction results in a nine-month waiting period before applying for a driver’s license.
  • Not eligible for any hardship permit.
  • Anyone caught driving without a permit is ineligible to obtain a driver’s license until age 18.
  • Any person under age 18 who has unresolved traffic citations will be denied issuance of a driver’s license.
  • Driver’s License Suspension for Nighttime Driving Restriction Violation – A person under the age of 18 who violates the nighttime driving restriction may have their driving privileges suspended.

Initial Licensing Phase — Drivers Age 16-17

  • Parent/legal guardian must certify that a minimum of 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night, has been completed.
  • Parent/legal guardian must accompany teen to provide written consent to obtain a driver’s license, OR complete and notarize an Affidavit/Consent for Minor to Drive form.
  • Must have completed a state-approved driver education course.
  • Nighttime driving restrictions — Sun.-Thurs., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (local curfews may differ).
  • Must maintain a conviction-free driving record for six months prior to turning 18 before moving to the Full Licensing Phase. A traffic conviction during the Initial Licensing Phase may extend restrictions beyond age 18.
  • All occupants must wear safety belts.
  • For the first 12 months of licensing, or until the driver turns 18, whichever occurs first, the number of passengers is limited to one person under age 20, unless the passenger(s) is a sibling, stepsibling, child or stepchild of the driver. After this period, the number of passengers is limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
  • Cell phone use while driving including a hands free device, is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.
Sanctions
  • To obtain court supervision for a traffic violation, a driver must appear in court with a parent/legal guardian and also must attend traffic safety school. Limit one court supervision for serious driving offenses.
  • A moving violation conviction before age 18 generates a Secretary of State warning letter to the parent and teenager.
  • A moving violation conviction that occurs within the first year of licensing will result in a six-month extension of the passenger limitation, which allows only one unrelated passenger under age 20.
  • Two moving violation convictions occurring within a 24-month period results in a minimum one-month driver’s license suspension. Suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses and the driver’s prior driving history. An additional driver’s license suspension will result for each subsequent moving violation following the initial suspension.
  • Suspended drivers must attend a remedial education course, may be retested and must pay a $70 reinstatement fee.
  • Any person under age 18 who has unresolved traffic citations will be denied issuance of a driver’s license.
  • Driver’s License Suspension for Nighttime Driving Restriction Violation – A person under the age of 18 who violates the nighttime driving restriction may have their driving privileges suspended.

Full Licensing Phase – Drivers 18-20

  • No age-related restrictions apply except in cases where a driver fails to move from the Initial Licensing Phase to the Full Licensing Phase.
  • Cell phone use while driving including a hands free device, is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.
  • Effective July 1, 2014, a person age 18-20, who did not take an approved driver education course in high school must successfully complete a six hour adult driver education course before obtaining a driver’s license.
Sanctions
  • Limit one court supervision for serious driving offenses.
  • Two moving violation convictions occurring within a 24-month period results in a minimum one-month driver’s license suspension. Suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses and the driver’s prior driving history. An additional driver’s license suspension will result for each subsequent moving violation following the initial suspension.
  • Suspended drivers are required to pay a $70 reinstatement fee.

Laws Parents and Teens Should Know

  • Effective January 1, 2018, Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry – Applicants age 16 and older will be asked to join the registry. More information on the Organ Donor Program is available at www.LifeGoesOn.com or by calling 800-210-2106.
  • Parental Consent — Drivers ages 16-17 must have the written consent of a parent/legal guardian to obtain a driver’s license. The parent/legal guardian who gave initial consent may cancel the minor’s license at any time, for any reason, until the driver turns 18 by contacting the Secretary of State’s office. Driving privileges will not be reinstated until the parent/legal guardian who withdrew consent, once again provides consent or until the driver turns 18, whichever occurs first. The teen driver must reapply for a driver’s license, take all applicable exams and pay the appropriate fees.
  • Parental Access to Teen Driving Records — Parents may view their teen’s (under age 18) driving record free through the Secretary of State Web site. Several security features will protect the teen’s privacy and ensure that only the parents/legal guardians are granted access to the teen’s driving record. Parental Access to Teen Driving Records
  • Driver’s License Suspension for Alcohol Consumption — A person under the age of 21 who is found guilty or granted court supervision for a violation of state law or local ordinance relating to illegal consumption, possession, purchase or receipt of alcohol, regardless of whether a vehicle was involved will face a loss of driving privileges, in addition to any fine imposed. Court supervision for any of these offenses will result in a 3 month suspension of driving privileges; a first conviction results in a 6 month suspension of driving privileges; a second conviction results in a 12 month suspension of driving privileges and a third or subsequent conviction will result in a revocation of driving privileges.
  • Street Racing — Driving privileges will be revoked for any person convicted of street racing, and law enforcement may impound the vehicle for up to five days.

How To Obtain A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) In Illinois.

Requirements to Obtain an Original Illinois CLP or Transfer a CDL From Another State

  • You must be age 18 to apply for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) to operate intrastate and age 21 to operate in interstate commerce or to transport passengers.
  • To obtain a CLP, you must possess either a valid Illinois CDL or non-CDL license as a base license. The base license must be valid for the entire time frame of the 180 day CLP. If the base license will expire within the CLP period, you will be required to renew the base license first.
  • You must provide Proof of Legal Presence documentation to obtain a CLP or transfer a CDL from another state.
  • You must self-certify your intrastate or interstate medical driving status and if you are declaring as a non-excepted interstate (NI) driver you will need to provide an acceptable medical certificate.
  • You must pay the appropriate CLP/CDL fee to obtain a CLP or transfer your CDL.
  • You must successfully pass the General (Core) Knowledge written test, the Combination Knowledge written test (class A), the Air Brake Knowledge written test (if driving vehicle, so equipped) and any applicable Endorsement Knowledge written test(s), that are required to operate the desired vehicle. Tanker (N), Passenger (P) and School Bus (S) are the only endorsements permitted on the CLP. The vision screening and the basic car written test are also required for out of state CDL transfers.
  • After all the required/desired written testing has been completed, a temporary CLP will be issued. After the necessary identification checks have been conducted to ensure your identity, a secure hard card permanent CLP will be printed and sent via U.S. mail within 15 business days to the address you have provided to us. It is imperative that you ensure the address provided at the facility is correct. If your CLP is issued prior to when all your CDL written testing is complete, you will be required to wait until you receive your permanent CLP to resume any CDL testing.
  • Once you obtain your initial temporary CLP, your CLP (both temporary and permanent combined) will be valid for 180 days.
  • You must schedule a CDL skills/drive testing appointment to complete your testing. All CLP holders will be required to have had their temporary or permanent CLP issued for a minimum of 14 days prior to conducting their skills/drive testing. You may schedule in advance for a future date beyond the 14 day period. The CDL Skills and Drive Information Sheet provides key information about your CLP and what is required for your testing appointment.
  • You must successfully pass the skills/drive testing in a properly classified, representative vehicle, based on the desired vehicle class, restrictions and endorsements.
  • Your CLP may be renewed, one time, for the CLP fee, up to 30 days before and up to 5 calendar days after the original, permanent CLP expiration date, without retaking the written testing. Upon CLP renewal, any skills/drive testing that has been passed must be re-taken.  If you have allowed the original, permanent CLP to expire more than 5 days or if your renewed CLP has expired, you must re-take all applicable testing and pay the CLP fee to obtain a new initial temporary CLP. The renewal CLP will also be a temporary CLP good for 45 days, until the new permanent CLP is received.
  • In most cases, if you are transferring in an out of state CDL you will not obtain a CLP from Illinois, but retain your current CDL until the entire transfer process has been completed. You will be given receipts with your testing results. If you desire to drop your CDL to a non-CDL Illinois driver’s license, you will then be considered an Illinois driver and will be given an Illinois CLP after you have completed the required written testing.
  • If you are transferring in an out of state CDL and you begin the CDL written testing process and then decide to have a basic class D driver’s license issued, you will forfeit all your previously completed CDL testing. If so desired, you will have to start the CDL testing over with the General (Core) Knowledge written test and pay the necessary fee to obtain a CLP.
  • If you wish to have an H or X endorsement on your CDL, then you will need to conduct a TSA security threat assessment and be given clearance from TSA prior to conducting the CDL testing associated with Hazardous Materials. The H or X endorsement are not allowed on a CLP. See Hazardous Materials Endorsement (H) for more information.
  • Per 49 CFR 383.23, the Secretary of State cannot issue a non-domiciled CLP or CDL to a Mexican or Canadian citizen. A citizen of either of these countries must obtain their CDL from their country of citizenship or obtain U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency status.
  • If you currently have a temporary DL, CDL or CLP in process you will not be able to conduct the CDL skills testing for an initial CDL or upgraded CDL. You must wait until the hard card is received.
  • If your CLP was issued at a Central Issuance (CI) CDL facility you will need to schedule your CDL skills testing appointment at a Central Issuance full service CDL facility in order to obtain immediate issuance of the new temporary CDL upon testing completion.

Requirements For Existing Illinois CDL Holders

  • You must renew your CDL every 4 years and prior to the expiration date to be valid to drive any vehicle and pay the CDL renewal fee and an additional fee if the CDL contains an L or M class.
  • You must provide Proof of Legal Presence documentation to renew or upgrade your CDL.
  • If you desire to upgrade your CDL classification, add an endorsement (Passenger and/or School Bus) or remove a restriction (L-Air Brake equipped), you will be required to conduct new skills/drive testing in a representative/properly equipped vehicle. A CLP must be obtained by passing the Combination Knowledge (Class A) written test and/or the appropriate Endorsement/Restriction Knowledge written test(s) and pay the appropriate fee(s). After the CLP has been obtained you will need to schedule a CDL appointment to conduct the necessary skills/drive testing. The CDL Skills and Drive Information Sheet provides key information about your CLP and what is required for your testing appointment.
  • After the required written testing has been completed, a temporary CLP will be issued. After the necessary identification checks have been conducted to ensure your identity, a secure hard card permanent CLP will be printed and sent via U.S. mail within 15 business days to the address you have provided to us. It is imperative that you ensure the address provided at the facility is correct.
  • If you are a non-excepted interstate (NI) driver, you must provide our office with all updates of your medical certificate and/or medical variances prior to the corresponding expiration date(s).
  • You must notify the Secretary of State’s office of an address change or name change within 10 days and must obtain a corrected driver’s license within 30 days.
  • If your current renewal notice states that you must pass all applicable written testing, then that will include the vision screening, basic car written test and all applicable CDL written tests including endorsements. If you have an L or M class, then the applicable motorcycle written is also required.
  • If you have an H or X endorsement on your CDL, then you will need to pass the Hazardous Materials written test at each renewal. In most cases, you must conduct a new TSA security threat assessment and obtain clearance from TSA prior to any renewal that includes an H or X endorsement or prior to conducting any CDL testing associated with Hazardous Materials. See Hazardous Materials Endorsement (H) for more information.
  • If you will be 75 years of age or older on or before your CDL expiration date, you will be required to perform the complete skills/drive testing in the appropriate class representative vehicle to renew your CDL. To conduct your skills/drive testing, you will need to schedule a CDL appointment. The renewed CDL or other Non-CDL will be based on the vehicle in which your testing is conducted. The CDL Skills and Drive Information Sheet provides key information about what is required for your testing appointment.
  • Per 49 CFR 383.23, the Secretary of State cannot issue a non-domiciled CLP or CDL to a Mexican or Canadian citizen. A citizen of either of these countries must obtain their CDL from their country of citizenship or obtain U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency status.
  • Upon renewal of your CDL, or change in any restriction or addition/removal of any endorsement (not requiring a CLP), a temporary CDL will be issued and your permanent hard card will be printed and sent in the mail.

Vehicles Requiring a CDL

  • Any combination of vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, providing the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Drivers Exempt From Obtaining a CDL

Under state and federal law, certain drivers are not subject to the requirements of the CDL program. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has determined these exemptions will not diminish the safe operation of commercial vehicles on the highways. Although the following vehicle operators are not required to obtain CDLs, they are required to hold the proper driver’s license classification for the type of vehicles they are operating.

  • Farm Equipment Operators — The farm operators’ exemption is intended to cover legitimate farm-to-market operations by farmers, not commercial grain haulers.
    • Farm Vehicle Driver-FVD (J50 Restriction) — If the farmer, his spouse and their children, parents on both sides, brothers and sisters on both sides and their spouses are operating a truck-tractor semi-trailer combination or combinations, they are exempt from the CDL Program as a Farm Vehicle Driver (Non-CDL FVD). However, these drivers must be age 21, they must pass the required CDL written and skills testing and the vehicle must have Farm plates. A J50 restriction is required on a Class A Non-CDL to allow this operation. These drivers must also follow the restrictions listed below.
    • Covered Farm Vehicle Driver-CFV (J51 Restriction) — If a farmer, a family member or a farm employee is operating a truck-tractor semi-trailer combination or combinations as a Covered Farm Vehicle, they are exempt from the CDL Program as a Covered Farm Vehicle Driver (Non-CDL CFV). However, these drivers must be age 18, they must pass the required CDL written and skills testing and the vehicle must have Farm plates. A J51 restriction is required on a Class A Non-CDL to allow this operation. Drivers must be 18 to operate intrastate and 21 to operate interstate under this restriction. These drivers must also follow the other restrictions listed below.
    • Farm Equipment Operator vehicle operation restrictions:
      • Controlled and operated by a farmer, a member of the farmer’s family or a farm employee; and
        Note: Employees are permitted to operate any CFV and other waived Class A or B vehicles, with the exception of operating as a FVD as noted above.
      • Used to transport farm products, equipment, supplies or a combination thereof to or from a farm (including nurseries and aquacultures); and
      • Used within 150 air miles of the person’s farm and/or if a Covered Farm Vehicle (CFV) anywhere within the registered State; and
      • Not used in the operations of a common or contract motor carrier; and
      • Used in nursery or agricultural operations.
    Note: For any Farm Equipment Operator to operate a truck-tractor semi-trailer combination they must possess either a Class A Non-CDL with a J50 or J51 restriction (as noted above) or a Class A CDL without an O restriction.
  • Emergency Equipment Operators — Because emergency organizations have extensive initial training and re-training requirements for their equipment operators, Illinois waives CDL requirements for operators of emergency equipment operated  for a government agency. The  emergency equipment must have audible and visual signals. The exemption applies when the  equipment is being used in the execution of functions for the preservation of life or property.
  • Recreational Vehicle Operators — Illinois waives CDL requirements for drivers of a recreational vehicle operated as family/personal conveyance for recreational purposes. This includes motor homes, travel trailers and other recreational vehicles. Recreational vehicles being operated in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise are NOT exempt (Ex: Teams with sponsorships, Individuals or groups participating in shows/festivals where business is being conducted and other similar activities).
  • Military Vehicle Operators — U.S. Department of Defense military vehicles being driven by non-civilian personnel for military purposes are exempt from CDL requirements. This includes any driver on active military duty, members of the Reserves, National Guard, personnel on part-time training and National Guard military technicians. This exemption does not apply to civilian employees operating equipment within military installations.
  • Township Employees — An employee of a township or road district with a population of less than 3,000, driving a vehicle within the boundaries of the township or road district for the purpose of removing snow or ice from a roadway by plowing, sanding or salting, is waived from CDL requirements. This exemption is allowed providing that the employee who ordinarily operates the vehicle and holds a properly classified CDL is unable to operate the vehicle or is in need of additional assistance due to a snow emergency.

A holder of a Non-CDL class A and B license is permitted to operate the appropriate vehicles within the exempted uses above and other non-commercial vehicles at their class level or below.

CDL and Non-CDL Classifications

  • Class A — Combination of vehicles with a GCWR* of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the GVWR of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B — Single vehicle with a GVWR* of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C — Single vehicle with a GVWR* of at least 16,001 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds.
  • Class D — Single vehicle with a GVWR* of less than 16,001 pounds.
  • *GCWR — Gross Combination Weight Rating
  • *GVWR — Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

Upgrades, Endorsements and Permits

  • Combination Vehicle — Knowledge and skills/drive testing are required to obtain or upgrade a CDL to drive combination vehicles (class A). To obtain or upgrade to a Class A CDL from an existing lower class CDL, the driver will be required to hold a Class A CLP for 14 days before the skills/drive testing can be conducted. A CDL Appointment is required for the skills/drive testing. The CDL Skills and Drive Information Sheet provides key information about your CLP and what is required for your testing appointment.
  • Passenger Endorsement (P) — Knowledge and skills/drive testing is required to drive a vehicle designed to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver). To obtain a CDL with the P endorsement or add it to an existing CDL, the driver will be required to hold a CLP with the P endorsement for 14 days before the skills/drive testing can be conducted. A CDL Appointment is required for the skills/drive testing. The CDL Skills and Drive Information Sheet provides key information about your CLP and what is required for your testing appointment.
  • Charter Bus Endorsement (C) — Knowledge and (if applicable) skills/drive testing is required to drive a charter type bus transporting students, on behalf of a school, for school sponsored activities. See Charter Bus Endorsement for more information.
  • Double/Triple Trailer Endorsement (T) — Knowledge testing is required to double or triple trailers. This endorsement only applies to a class A CDL. Triple trailers are not permitted on Illinois highways.
  • Hazardous Materials Endorsement (H) — Knowledge testing is required to drive a vehicle transporting any hazardous material that requires placards. Prior to written testing for the H endorsement, the applicant must be approved through TSA. When renewing a CDL with an H or X endorsement the knowledge/written test must be successfully completed and a new TSA approval is required.
  • School Bus Endorsement (S) — Knowledge and skills/drive testing is required to drive a yellow school bus transporting students 12th grade and under to and from school and/or for school-sponsored activities. To obtain an S endorsement, the driver also has to possess or be obtaining the P endorsement at the same time. To obtain a CDL with the S endorsement or add it to an existing CDL, the driver will be required to hold a CLP with the S endorsement for 14 days before the skills/drive testing can be conducted. The testing must be conducted in a yellow school bus of the proper class. A CDL Appointment is required for the skills/drive testing. The CDL Skills and Drive Information Sheet provides key information about your CLP and what is required for your testing appointment.
  • Tank Endorsement (N) — Knowledge testing is required to drive a vehicle designed to carry any liquid or gaseous material within a tank(s) that is permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis. Each tank must be in excess of 119 gallons and all tanks must have an aggregate total of 1000 gallons or more.
  • Combined Tank and Hazardous Materials Endorsement (X); must meet all the requirements as outlined under both endorsements as explained above.
  • School Bus Permit (SBP) — Drivers who wish to transport students (12th grade and below) on behalf of a school or school bus company in any class vehicle for any curriculum-related school activity must obtain a School Bus Permit (SBP). Drivers must also possess a CDL with passenger endorsement in the proper classification if the unit is designed to transport 16 people or more or has GVWR in excess of 26,000 pounds. If the unit being driven is a yellow school bus, then the school bus endorsement is also required. To obtain the SBP, drivers must have the proper documentation — letter of intent or SB2 form depending on what testing is being conducted at that time — from the school district or school bus company where they will be employed. These drivers must pass the school bus knowledge examination and the skills/drive testing in a representative vehicle (depending on vehicle class). The SBP applies to applicants who wish to drive any students as noted above in any class (A, B, C or D). The SBP will be restricted to the GVWR level of vehicle in which drivers conduct their skills/drive testing. If your SBP is expired for more than 30 days a new CLP and skills/drive testing will be required. You will need to schedule a CDL skills/drive testing appointment to complete your testing. All CLP holders will be required to have had their temporary or permanent CLP issued for a minimum of 14 days prior to conducting their skills/drive testing. You may schedule in advance for a future date beyond the 14 day period. The CDL Skills and Drive Information Sheet provides key information about your CLP and what is required for your testing appointment.

    This is an Illinois only specific permit required to transport Illinois school children for curriculum activities. The SBP is NOT required to drive an empty yellow school bus without school children present, but in most cases a CDL with a P endorsement is required.

Air Brake and other CDL associated Restrictions

  • Full Air Brakes (No restriction) (CDL/CLP) — to qualify to operate a vehicle equipped with a full air brake system, an applicant must successfully pass the written air brake knowledge test and take the CDL skills/drive testing in a representative vehicle equipped with a full air brake system.
  • Partial Air Brakes Restriction (Z) (CDL/CLP) — A Z restriction is placed on a CDL if an individual conducts testing in a vehicle that is equipped with a partial air brake system. To qualify to operate a vehicle equipped with a partial air brake system, an applicant must successfully pass the knowledge/ written air brake test and take the CDL skills/drive testing in a representative vehicle equipped with a partial air brake system. To remove a Z restriction from a CDL, a skills/drive test in a representative vehicle equipped with a full air brake system is required.
  • No Air Brakes Restriction (L) (CDL/CLP) — An L restriction is placed on a CDL if an individual is not permitted to operate a vehicle that is equipped with a full or partial air brake system. To remove an L restriction from a CLP/CDL, the air brake knowledge/written test and a skills/drive testing in a vehicle equipped with a full or partial air brake system are required. If partial system is used, then the Z restriction would be applied. To remove the L restriction or switch from the L to a Z, the driver will be required to hold a CLP with no “L” restriction for 14 days before the skills/drive testing can be conducted. A CDL Appointment is required for the skills/drive testing. The CDL Skills and Drive Information Sheet provides key information about your CLP and what is required for your testing appointment.
  • Automatic Only Restriction (E)-No manual transmission CMV (CDL only) — If the driver conducts the CDL skills/drive testing in a CMV vehicle equipped with any type of automatic transmission, an E restriction will be placed on the their CDL, showing that they are not permitted to operate a vehicle equipped with a manual transmission. This restriction only applies to CDL vehicles and drivers. To remove the E restriction, drivers must conduct a full skills/drive test in a CDL representative vehicle of the same classification with full-manual transmission. A CDL Appointment is required for this testing. The CDL Skills and Drive Information Sheet provides key information about your CLP and what is required for your testing appointment.
  • Tractor-Trailer Restriction (O)-No semi-tractor trailer CMV (CDL only) — If the driver conducts the CDL skills/drive testing in a combination vehicle other than a truck-tractor and semi trailer vehicle to obtain a class A CDL, an O restriction will be placed on the their CDL, showing that they are not permitted to operate a CDL truck- tractor and semi trailer combination vehicle. They are restricted to other types of truck and trailer combination vehicles only. This restriction only applies to CDL vehicles and drivers. To remove the O restriction, drivers must conduct a full skills/drive test in a CDL truck-tractor and semi trailer combination. A CDL Appointment is required for this testing The CDL Skills and Drive Information Sheet provides key information about your CLP and what is required for your testing appointment.
  • CDL Intrastate Only Restriction (K)-No Interstate CMV driving (CDL/CLP) — If a driver certifies that their CDL medical status as Intrastate (NA or EA), a K restriction will be placed on their CDL/CLP, indicating that they are not permitted to operate a CMV in interstate commerce or in multiple states. This restriction only applies to CDL vehicles and CDL/CLP drivers.
  • FMCSA Medical Variance Restriction (V)-Medical Waiver/SPE Certificate must accompany medical certificate for Non-excepted Interstate drivers (CDL/CLP) — Applies to non-excepted interstate (NI) drivers who are required to possess a federal exemption waiver or skills performance evaluation (SPE) to accompany their medical examiners certificate. This restriction only applies to CDL vehicles and CDL/CLP drivers.
  • Class B Passenger Vehicle Restriction (M)-No Class A passenger vehicles allowed (CDL/CLP) — Applies to class A and B CDL/CLP drivers who have completed the appropriate written testing and have conducted or will conduct the skills/drive testing in a passenger vehicle designed to transport 16 people or more with a GVWR of in excess of 26,000 pounds. This restriction applies only to CDL vehicles and CLP/CDL drivers. A CDL Appointment is required for the skills/drive portion of the testing.
  • Class C Passenger Vehicle Restriction (N) — No Class A or B passenger vehicles allowed (CDL/CLP) Applies to class A, B or C CDL drivers who have completed the appropriate written testing and have conducted or will conduct the skills/drive testing in a passenger vehicle designed to transport 16 people or more with a GVWR from 16,001 up to 26,000 pounds. This restriction applies only to CDL vehicles and CLP/CDL drivers. To remove the N restriction and upgrade to an M restriction (noted above), a full skills/drive test is required to be conducted in a class B passenger, representative vehicle with a GVWR in excess of 26,000 pounds. A CDL Appointment is required for the skills/drive portion of the testing.
  • 16,000 Lb or less Passenger/Hazardous Materials Vehicle Restriction (J-10) — Only CDL Vehicles 16,000 GVWR or less allowed (CDL) — Applies to class C CDL drivers only. These are drivers who have completed the appropriate written testing and have conducted the skills/drive testing in a passenger vehicle, with a GVWR of 16,000 pounds or less, designed to transport 16 people or more OR a vehicle that will be used to transport hazardous materials where placards are required. This restriction applies only to CDL vehicles and Illinois CDL drivers. A CDL Appointment may be required for the skills/drive portion of the testing.
  • Empty Tank Vehicle Restriction (X)-No cargo in a CDL tank vehicle (CLP) — If applicants have successfully passed all appropriate CDL written testing including the tank vehicle knowledge test and prior to conducting the skills/drive testing, they will be required to have the X restriction placed on their CLP, indicating that they are only permitted to operate a tank vehicle without cargo. This restriction only applies to CLP drivers operating CDL tank vehicles.
  • Empty Passenger Vehicle Restriction (P)-No passengers in a CDL passenger vehicle (CLP) — If applicants have successfully passed all appropriate CDL written testing, including the passenger knowledge test and prior to conducting the skills/drive testing, they will be required to have the P restriction placed on their CLP, indicating that they are only permitted to operate a passenger vehicle without passengers. The only exception to this would be official authority examiners or company trainers. This restriction only applies to CLP drivers operating CDL passenger vehicles.

Farm-Related Services Restricted CDL

A seasonal restricted CDL may be issued for 90 to 180 days during any 12-month period and is renewable. The license is valid only within 150 miles of the employer’s place of business. The license holder must follow the restrictions as listed on the Restricted Class B CDL application and pay the appropriate fees.

To qualify the driver must meet the following requirements:

  • Be employed by a farm retail outlet and/or supplier, agri-chemical business, custom harvester or livestock feeder.
  • Hold a valid Class B non-CDL. This can be obtained at any Secretary of State Facility by taking a written and road test in a Class B vehicle and paying the appropriate fee.
  • Meet all the eligibility requirements as outlined on the Restricted Class B CDL application.
  • Complete the Restricted Class B CDL application and submit it to the CDL Division as noted on the form with the appropriate documents and fee.

Fees

  • CDL Holders renewing an Illinois CDL or transferring in an out of state CDL — $60
  • CDL Holders renewing a CDL or transferring in an out of state CDL with motorcycle class — $65
  • Applicants possessing an Illinois non-CDL to adding a CLP — $50
  • Applicants possessing a CDL upgrading their CDL classification or adding an endorsement and obtaining an original CLP — $5
  • Applicants possessing an Illinois CDL and adding/changing an endorsement/restriction where a CLP is not required — $5
  • Applicants possessing an Illinois CLP and adding/changing an endorsement/restriction where a corrected CLP is required — $5
  • Applicants renewing an original CLP — $50
  • Adding a School Bus Permit (SBP) to a CDL or Non-CDL — $9

CDL Medical

Persons who drive commercial motor vehicles (CMV) are subject to minimum physical qualifications. Unless excepted (exempted) by Federal or State law, these physical qualifications require a medical examination. This physical examination is required to help ensure that a person is medically qualified to safely operate a CMV. In the interest of public safety, CMV drivers are held to higher physical, mental and emotional standards than passenger car drivers. The medical rules and requirements are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

All Non-excepted Interstate and Intrastate CMV drivers, driving a CMV with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) in excess of 10,001 pounds and who are driving in commerce within the United States, Canada and Mexico must pass a medical examination conducted by a Medical Examiner on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME) using the official FMCSA Medical Examination Report Form (MCSA-5875).

All examined CMV drivers must be issued a Medical Examiner’s Certificate, which must be carried at all times and must be renewed every two years unless the medical examiner specifies a date of less than two years on the certificate. Effective April 20, 2016, all medical examiners must issue the official FMCSA Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MCSA-5876) to all drivers examined.

Print Medical Examination Report Form
Print Medical Examiner’s Certificate

All CDL holders must self-certify their medical status in order to renew or upgrade a CDL. All CLP applicants must self-certify when conducting their knowledge and skills testing. All initial medical self-certifications must be provided at a CDL facility.

The four categories of self-certification are:

  1. Non-excepted interstate driver (NI)
  2. Excepted interstate driver (EI)
  3. Non-excepted intrastate driver (NA)
  4. Excepted intrastate driver (EA)

If you choose Non-excepted interstate (NI) you must provide (or have on file with our office) a current and acceptable medical examiner’s certificate, performed by a National Registry Medical Examiner. All pertinent medical information which we need from your medical certificate will be/is posted to your driving record.

If you choose 2, 3, or 4 you will not be required to provide your medical certificate during your facility visit but in most cases you are required to possess a current and acceptable medical examiner’s certificate, performed by a National Registry Medical Examiner, in order to operate a CMV.

If you are unsure which category to choose, check with your employer to receive assistance to determine your medical category or visit FMCSA FAQs.

This is a self certification of your medical driving status and your self-certification category is based solely on where you drive and what you transport. The Secretary of State Facility employees do not have the appropriate information to assist you in selecting your medical certification category.

All NI declared CDL holders must keep a valid FMCSA Medical Examiner’s Certificate on file with the Secretary of State’s office or change their medical category to one other than NI. These updates can be accomplished by providing the updated medical certificate in-person at a CDL facility, by mailing the certificate to: Illinois Secretary of State c/o CDL Medical Unit 2701 S. Dirksen Parkway Springfield, IL 62723 or by emailing a copy of the certificate to: cdlmedicalcard@ilsos.gov.

Further information in reference to the medical program may be obtained by: visiting https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/medical, contacting IDOT at 217-785-1181 (ask for a Compliance Officer), FMCSA Call Center at 202-366-4001 or the Secretary of State’s CDL Medical Unit at 217-785-3002.

Testing

Knowledge/Written Tests — CDL knowledge/written tests are conducted utilizing a computerized system of random questions. These tests are administered in English only. The test(s) can be read by the applicant or the audio format (computer reads test) may be requested. After attempting the testing utilizing the audio format, if the applicant desires to have the test read in person by SOS personnel, the applicant will need to request the appropriate information from facility management to apply for an oral test.

The computerized General (Core) Knowledge written test is a general CDL test required of all applicants to obtain a CLP or transfer a CDL. This test consists of 30 standardized, random multiple-choice questions that cover a wide range of areas concerning the CDL laws, the CDL program and CDL vehicles.

In addition to the General Knowledge test, there are Classification (combination), Air Brake and Specialized Endorsement Knowledge test depending on the type/size of vehicle and its equipment and purposes.

Endorsement Knowledge/written tests include: double/triple trailers, vehicles carrying hazardous materials, passenger vehicles (16+ people), school and charter buses or tank vehicles. Applicants must score a minimum of 80% to pass each applicable test, with the exception of the School Bus test which is 90%.

Knowledge/written tests are valid for the maximum of one year, but can be valid for less depending on the circumstances.

Skills and Drive Testing — After passing the applicable knowledge/written testing, all CLP holders or transferring CDL holders are required to pass the skills/drive testing. All CLP holders, whether initial, renewal or upgrading existing CDL, will be required to hold their CLP for a minimum of 14 calendar days from the CLP issue date, prior to conducting their skills/drive testing.

Drive/Road Tests — All CDL applicants must drive an approved predetermined route for a CDL Road Test. The CDL Road Test route is determined by the requirements of federal and state law along with the roadways in the surrounding area of the CDL facility in which the test is being conducted.

Each portion of the skills/drive test must be taken in a vehicle representative of the license classification and type of vehicle you wish to drive, with the proper air brake system if so desired. You must have a CLP for all skills/drive testing, with the exception of the E, O or Z restriction removals. You must have a CLP for all skills/drive testing, with the exception of the E, O or Z restriction removals. You must schedule CDL skills/drive testing at Schedule a CDL Appointment or by calling 217-785-3013, option #4. Proof of vehicle insurance, valid license plates and current vehicle safety inspection(s) are required for every vehicle prior to the test. The testing is divided into three parts, Pre-trip Inspection test, Basic Control Skills test and Driving/Road test. The CDL Skills and Drive Information Sheet provides key information about your CLP and what is required for your testing appointment.Special Testing Requirements/Rules

Third-time Fail Rule — CDL applicants who fail any CDL exam(s) three times are required to wait 30 days from the date of the third failed exam. Three additional failures (six total failures) of the same exam(s) will result in a 90-day waiting period. Three additional failures (nine total failures) of the same exam(s) after the 90-day waiting period will result in a one-year waiting period from the date of the last failed exam. The waiting periods apply only to the exam(s) failed three times. There will be additional fees charged after each three time fail waiting period to allow the applicant to continue testing.

CDL Transfers — Out-of-state CDL Holders (transfers in) who wish to obtain an Illinois CDL must take all applicable CDL knowledge/written testing and the skills/drive testing in a representative vehicle(s).

CLP Renewal — An original CLP expires 180 days from the date of initial issuance. The original CLP can be renewed one time for an additional 180 days. This renewal is permitted up to 30 days prior to expiration and up to 5 days after expiration without written/knowledge testing for the appropriate fee. All skills/drive testing that was passed under the original CLP will be forfeited. If an additional CLP is desired beyond the 180 day renewal CLP cycle, then the applicant will be required to conduct all applicable written/knowledge and skills/drive testing and pay the appropriate fee.

Adding/Renewing Hazardous Material Endorsement — A CDL holder or applicant wishing to obtain or renew a Hazardous Materials (H) or a Combined Tank/Hazardous Materials (X) Endorsement must complete a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) threat assessment. See Hazardous Materials Endorsement for more information.

Downgrading CDL class, endorsements or dropping a CDL—If a CDL holder downgrades their class of CDL or drops an endorsement they will be required to conduct all applicable knowledge/written and skills/drive testing in a representative vehicle to regain the classification or endorsement. If a CDL holder drops their CDL to a non-CDL, they will be required to take all knowledge/written and skills/drive testing in a representative vehicle to re-establish the CDL.Military CDL Waiver Programs

Qualified, eligible active military service members and those who have been discharged within the past 12 months who wish to obtain an Illinois Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and can fulfill the necessary requirements will have the opportunity to have some or all of their CDL testing waived, due to their extensive training and experience. This program is only available to those service members who are obtaining their initial CDL and not for upgrades or restriction changes to an existing CDL. There are two options under the Military CDL Waiver program, the Even Exchange and the Skills Test waiver. For either option, the applicant and their Commanding Officer must provide a fully completed and acceptable application for the appropriate option. The Commanding Officer must submit the application with required documentation, via email to the CDL Division at CDLSafeRideIllinois@ilsos.net. The CDL Division will review and verify the application then contact the Officer and the applicant in reference to the applications approval. Once approved, the applicant will be required to present the approval notice (from the CDL Section), and all other necessary documentation to a CDL Facility. Each applicant will be required to pay the appropriate CDL fee and satisfy all the CDL and other licensing requirements.

  • Even Exchange option — The Even Exchange option is available to service members who have certain military MOS/Rating’s in the Armed Services as noted on the application for this option, along with the proper military commercial driving training and experience. After an acceptable Even Exchange application is received and verified, these service members are permitted to have their CDL knowledge and skills testing waived. This also could include certain endorsement tests, if applicable to the applicant’s experience.
  • Skills Waiver option — The Skills Waiver option is available to all service members who have the proper military commercial driving training and experience but do not have the certain MOS/Rating’s for the Even Exchange option. After an acceptable Skills Waiver application is received and verified, these service members are permitted to have their CDL skills testing waived. This does not include the CDL knowledge testing required and does not apply to any endorsements requiring skills testing.

For further information, please contact the CDL Division at 217-524-5971.

The above information is provided to assist CLP applicants and CDL holders with the necessary requirements but it is not meant to be all inclusive. For additional information, please refer to the Illinois Commercial Driver’s web pageCDL Study Guide or the Federal FMCSA website.