Rules for Illinois Drivers Under 21

Rules for Illinois Drivers Under 21

In Illinois, most people under age 18 learn to drive in high school or at a commercial driver training school licensed by the Secretary of State’s office. Approved driver education
classes include at least 30 hours of classroom study and six hours of behind-the-wheel
training in a regular passenger vehicle.

For information about driving a larger vehicle or a motorcycle, please refer to the Rules
of the Road for Non-CDL Vehicles, Commercial Driver’s License Study Guide, or Illinois
Motorcycle Operator Manual, available at any Driver Services facility or at

Obtaining an Instruction Permit

If you are age 15-17, you may receive your instruction permit if you are enrolled in an
approved driver education class or will start attending an approved driver education class
within the next 30 days. The instruction permit is valid for 24 months and must be held for
at least nine consecutive months prior to obtaining a driver’s license if you are age 16 or
older. If you are age 17 and 3 months or older, you may apply for an instruction permit without taking a driver education course. When you apply for your instruction permit, you must
pass the vision and written exams for the license classification you are seeking.

Your instruction permit allows you to drive during the behind-the-wheel portion of your driver education class with an adult instructor occupying the seat next to you. It also allows you to drive with a parent, legal guardian, or responsible adult aged 21 or older with a valid license for the type of vehicle you are driving and at least one year of driving experience.

After you have successfully completed the driver education class, you
may continue practice driving with your instruction permit, under the direct supervision
of a responsible adult, as outlined above.

Illinois law requires that you have at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including 10 hours of nighttime driving, in addition to your driver education training, before you
are eligible to obtain a driver’s license at age 16. A driving log to track your hours is available at or in the Parent/Teen Driving Guide.

Driver Education and the Cooperative Driver Testing Program

High school students who successfully complete an accredited driver education course of classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction with a combined grade of A or B may be exempt from taking a facility-administered driving exam when applying for a driver’s license. School districts are encouraged to participate in this voluntary program by contacting the Secretary of State’s office.

For more information on the
requirements for this program, visit

Upon successful completion of the classroom and behind-the-wheel portions of driver education through your local high school, the Secretary of State’s office will receive
notification and add a notation to your driver’s license record. After successful completion of a driving exam, you may be issued a Cooperative Driver Testing Certificate,
which must be signed by the driver education instructor and the student’s parent/legal
guardian. The certificate, which expires on the same day as the student’s current
instruction permit and will not be extended, must be presented at any Driver Services
facility at the time of driver’s license application.

Any student under age 18 who drops out of high school cannot have the notation indicating completion placed on his/her driver’s license record unless:

  • The instructor has written verification of enrollment in a GED or alternative program;
  • The student has a GED;
  • The student, prior to dropping out, received passing grades in at least eight courses in the previous two semesters; or
  • The student has written consent from his/her parents or legal guardian and the
    regional superintendent.

The local superintendent or chief school administrator may waive conditions deemed
in the best interest of the student or dropout. Successful completion of driver education may be verified by accessing the Illinois State Board of Education’s website.

Illinois Driving Laws for Under 21 Drivers

Below are some of the Illinois driving laws that directly impact drivers who are under 21 years old:

Moving Violations

If a driver who is 21 years old or younger is convicted for more than 2 moving violations within 24 months, his/her driver’s license will be suspended for at least 30 days. 

The period of suspension will depend on the seriousness of the committed traffic offenses. 

He or she may also be required to complete a driver education course in order to be able to reinstate his or her driving privileges. 

During the period of suspension, the driver may be eligible to acquire a Restricted Driving Permit, but this is not always the case.

Court Supervision 

If a driver who is younger than 21 years old commits a serious traffic violation, he or she is entitled to only one court supervision. To obtain this court supervision, the driver will be required to attend a traffic safety school. 

If the driver is younger than 18 years old, he or she must appear in court accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. They are also required to complete a traffic safety course. 

Alcohol-Related Violations

Meanwhile, if the court supervision is received by a driver younger than 18 years old due to alcohol-related violations, the driver will be denied a full graduated driver’s license for a period of 9 months.

If a driver who is under 21 receives court supervision for possessing, consuming, purchasing alcohol, his or her driver’s license will be suspended for at least 3 months. If convicted, the driver will face a minimum of 6 months suspension of driving privileges.

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