Illinois DMV Handbook and Regulations FAQ

If you’re planning on applying for your driver’s license and you live in Illinois, then you are required to know and understand all of the information contained in the official Illinois driver’s handbook. The following frequently asked questions may also help you in knowing what to expect from the experience of taking your test and eventually driving on Illinois roads. Studying with a practice test can help you maximize your chances of passing your written test on the first try as well.
What are Illinois’s requirements for teens applying for their learner’s permit?
All first time teen drivers under 17 years and 3 months of age are required by the state to successfully complete a graduated driver licensing (GDL) program in order to eventually obtain full driver’s privileges. The program is designed to equip Illinois teens with all of the knowledge and skill they will need to become responsible, safe drivers. Such a program consists of various steps – successfully obtaining a learner’s permit, completing a state-approved driver education course, and successfully obtaining a restricted junior license before being granted an official state unrestricted license.
I’m a teen driver getting ready to begin driver’s ed. What can I expect?
In Illinois, a standard driver’s education course will consist of both classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction. You will be required to log 30 hours of instruction in the classroom and 6 behind the wheel. Once you successfully get your learner’s permit, you will then be required to complete 50 hours of parent-supervised driving practice. A total of 10 of those hours must be completed at night.
I’m new to Illinois. How quickly am I expected to transfer my out-of-state license?
If you are new to the state of Illinois, you are allowed to drive under your out-of-state license for up to 90 days. However, once you take steps that establish you as a resident, you need to get your license transferred within 30 days. You are considered an Illinois resident once you’ve started school in Illinois, obtained a job, purchased/rented a living space, or (if you’re still a minor) your parents purchase/rent a living space.
What can I expect when I visit the DMV to transfer my out-of-state license?
You will be expected to surrender your old license from your previous state of residence. You will also need to bring proper, government-approved proof of your identity, residency, and date of birth. You will be asked to provide your social security number. If you are a minor, you should bring a parent or guardian with you, as they will need to sign your paperwork. In addition to this, you will need to pay any applicable transfer fees, as well as be prepared to take both a written exam and a vision test. (You probably won’t have to take a driving test if you’re a licensed driver that is simply new to the state. However, DMV agents do reserve the right to ask you to take one if it’s deemed necessary.)
What are the possible reasons I might be denied a new Illinois driver’s license?
If your existing license has been suspended, revoked, or cancelled, then you will not be able to get a new license in Illinois. You may also be denied the right to apply for or renew a license if you have outstanding violations or fines to resolve. Lastly, if you have been deemed unfit to safely operate a motor vehicle on public roads for any reason, you will not be able to get your license. (Only a court or other authorized party can deem you unfit.)
Does Illinois have a point system in regards to violations? How does it work?
Yes. As is the case with many U.S. states, Illinois does have a point system in place. Every time you are convicted of a particular moving violation, a corresponding number of points will be added to your driving record. The number of points you accrue for each offense will depend on its severity. If you accumulate too many points, you may eventually be subjected to one of the following penalties:
  • Fines and/or Secretary of State administrative fees
  • Required community service of various durations depending on the offense
  • Required completion of a driver’s improvement course
  • Increase in car insurance rates
  • Suspension or revocation of your driving privileges
If you accumulate three or more violations within a 12 month period, you could be facing suspension or revocation of your license depending on the number of points attached to each offense. The majority of violations will remain on your Illinois driving record for 4-5 years. If your license is suspended, that will remain on your record for a minimum of 7 years. If any of the offenses are drug related, they will remain on your record for life.
What information will I be expected to know in order to pass my DMV written test?
You are required to know everything covered in the Illinois Rules of the Road handbook. These topics include but are not limited to responsible driving technique, Illinois traffic signals and signage, and information related to traffic tickets. Special versions of the handbook designed to help drivers prep for motorcycle driving or commercial driving will vary slightly.
What happens if I get a DUI or a DWI?
If you are determined to be driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated (meaning you are determined by an officer to have a BAC of 0.08% or higher), then your license will be suspended immediately. This will also happen if you decide to refuse a breathalyzer test. Should this happen, you will be given a receipt that will let you continue driving for 45 days. This gives you some time to fight the arrest and/or the suspension. The length of time attached to the suspension will vary depending on whether or not this is your first offense, in which case it will be for 6 months. If it’s your first offense and you refused testing, then your license will be suspended for 12 months instead. If you’re a commercial driver, then you face even higher penalties.
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