Getting a Drivers License in Illinois

If you plan to live and drive in Illinois, you need to obtain a state drivers license. Drivers under the age of 20 are required to go through the state’s Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program on their way to a full drivers license.

Applying for a New Driver's License in Illinois

People over the age of 20 years old are eligible to apply for a drivers license as long as they:

  • have a clean driving record
  • do not have a canceled, revoked, or suspended license
  • have not been deemed as an unsafe driver by a court

Illinois offers two types of regular drivers licenses. The most common is the Class D license, which is issued to non-commercial drivers over age 20 for driving passenger vehicles. The other is a restricted license, which only allows the driver to operate a car in a restricted, local area.

To apply for a Class D license in Illinois, go in-person to a Driver Services Facility operated by the Illinois Secretary of State office (SOS). Bring an original copy of your ID documents such as birth certificate, passport, or a previous drivers license.

You are required to show documentation of your signature from a document such as a canceled check or passport, provide your social security card or military papers, and provide proof of your date of birth. You must also provide proof of residency. A credit report or bank statement can be used for proving residency.

Next, you must:

If you are between the ages of 18 and 20 and you are applying for your first drivers license, you must also show proof that you have successfully completed an adult driver education course.

Illinois Graduated Drivers License Program

Graduated drivers license programs issue driving privileges in phases, depending on the person’s age and level of driver training they have gone through.

Teenagers may apply for a provisional drivers license at the age of 15 as long as they have parental or guardian permission and are enrolled in a state-approved driver education course. Then, after passing a vision test and a written driving knowledge test, they can be issued a learner’s permit.

Learner’s permits do not allow driving at night on Sundays through Thursdays between 10 PM and 6 AM or on Fridays and Saturdays between 11 PM and 6 AM. All driving must be supervised by an adult over 21 who holds a valid drivers license.

During this phase, teen drivers must accumulate 50 hours of supervised daytime driving and 10 hours of nighttime driving to move on to the next level.

At age 16, Illinois residents who meet these requirements can then obtain a drivers license with written approval from their parent or legal guardian, as long as they have completed a state-approved driver education course. Nighttime driving restrictions still apply during this phase of licensing.

Young drivers in Illinois must then maintain a clean driving record for six months before their 18th birthday to apply for their full license. The number of passengers a driver can carry at this phase is also restricted.

Andrea Leptinsky