Illinois CDL Requirements
Drivers seeking to earn their commercial driver license in the state of Illinois will need to meet not only all of the rules dictated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) but also the requirements outlined by the Office of the Secretary of State. If you received your CDL in another state and are looking to transfer it to Illinois, you must follow the same process as a new applicant. Be aware that commercial drivers are not allowed to have multiple CDLs. If a driver is found to have CDLs in more than one state, it could result in jail time and up to $5,000 in fines.
The general qualifications for applying for your CDL in Illinois are:
- you must be at least 18 years old
- you must already possess a valid non-CDL driver license
- you must be able to provide proof of legal presence in the United States
The Illinois Secretary of State will NOT issue a CDL to Canadian or Mexican citizens. If you are a resident of either of these countries, you will need to obtain U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency before you can apply for a CDL in the state of Illinois.
Also note that drivers under the age of 21 who are issued their CDLs may only legally drive within the state of Illinois.
There are three different classes of CDLs. Before you obtain your license, you will need to determine which of the three is necessary for the type of vehicle you will be operating. The three basic classes include:
Class A: permits the holder to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds of more, provided the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle or vehicles towed exceeds 10,000 pounds. Examples of these types of vehicles may include: tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations, tractor-trailer buses, tanker vehicles, livestock carriers, and flatbeds.
Class B: permits the holder to operate any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, and/or any vehicle with a GVWR OF 26,001 lbs. or heavier that is towing another vehicle weighing UP TO 10,000 lbs. Examples of these types of vehicles may include: straight trucks, large buses such as city, tourist and school buses, segmented buses, box trucks such delivery or courier trucks, and dump trucks with small trailers.
Class C: permits the holder to operate any single vehicle or combination of vehicles that is not a Class A or B if the vehicle is designed to transport 16 to 23 passengers including the driver, or used in the transportation of hazardous materials as designated by federal guidelines. Examples of these types of vehicles may include: small HAZMAT vehicles, passenger vans, and combination vehicles not described in class A or B.
Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
Before you are eligible to obtain your CDL, you must first apply for a commercial learner’s permit and hold it for a minimum of 14 days. The FMCSA requires a check of the past 10 years of your driving record, so you will need to submit to this review before you can apply. Your record will not just be checked in Illinois, but in all 50 states.
Before you arrive at an Illinois DMV to apply, be sure to gather the following documents to bring with you:
- 1 document proving legal presence in the United States, which is appropriate to your category of application
- Proof that you are medically qualified to apply for a CDL
The application process requires a $50 processing fee. Once you have provided the required documents and paid the fee, you may take the required knowledge tests. If you pass the tests, you will receive your CLP from the Illinois Secretary of State. It will be valid for up to 180 days and may be renewed for up to 30 days before and 5 days after the expiration date. If you renew earlier or later than these allotted timeframes, you will be required to retake the knowledge exams and pay another $50 processing fee.
Once you’ve had your CLP for at least 14 days, you will be eligible to apply for your CDL. To apply, you’ll need to schedule another appointment with the Secretary of State. At your appointment, you will be required to take the skills and driving tests for the CDL class you’re applying for, pay the $60 processing fee, and bring in a vehicle that is the same type you plan to drive commercially.
A CDL in Illinois is good for four years before renewal is required.