What Happens If You Drive Without a License in Illinois?

In recent years unlicensed drivers have gotten a lot of attention in Illinois. Officials are concerned because unlicensed drivers are more prone to accidents and are more likely to flee the scene after an accident or violation.

To curb unlicensed driving, officers across the state are cracking down. Even if you’ve never had an accident and follow the rules of the road, driving without a valid Illinois driver’s license just isn’t worth it. Here’s why.

Nope Don't do it! It's not worth it!

Driving Without a License

When an officer asks to see your Illinois driver’s license and you can’t produce one, get ready for a ticket or a possible arrest. Even if you aren’t arrested the ticket is tantamount to an arrest that comes with a court date and fines. If you fail to show up in court and pay the fines it could impact your ability to get a valid license.

Okay they aren't gonna send 4 police cars after you but you will get a ticket or be arrested.

The penalties for driving without a license can include:

  • Class B misdemeanor
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Up to 24 months of probation
  • Up to $1,500 in fines

Another repercussion for teens is a delay in getting your valid license. Anyone under 18 who’s caught driving without a valid license or permit can’t get either until they reach legal adult status.

If you also can’t prove that you meet the mandatory insurance requirements the vehicle will be immediately impounded. You won’t be able to get the vehicle back until an authorized, licensed driver shows proof of insurance.

Skirt these problems altogether by getting your license. If you’re under 18 years old you’ll need to be enrolled in an approved driver education course - like the state-approved driver’s ed courses from Aceable. Under 21? Then you’ll have to complete an adult driver’s ed course before getting a license.

Good Luck! Get your license with Aceable so you don't have to worry about all that!

Driving With an Expired, Revoked or Suspended License

In Illinois there are a lot of reasons a license can get suspended or revoked. But there’s no excuse for driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license. Still, an investigation from news station WREX in Rockford found that between 2011 and 2015 there were more than 300,000 convictions for driving with a suspended or revoked license.

  • The first time you’re caught driving with an expired, revoked or suspended license you’ll probably just get a citation and court summons for a hearing. You could also face the same penalties as driving without a license. Get an expired license renewed ASAP to avoid the penalties.
  • However, if you’re found to be driving under the influence, commit a hit and run or have a prior offense for driving without a valid license you’ll be arrested. You’ll have to stay in jail until the bond is paid.
  • If your license is expired the Secretary of State could suspend or revoke it altogether.
  • If you fail to appear in court matters will only get worse. Your suspension or revocation will be extended and additional fines will pile up.

Need to drive for work? There is a way to continue driving to work legally so you don’t get another traffic violation. If your license has been suspended you’ll need to complete an affidavit and send it to the Secretary of State to request a restricted permit to operate your vehicle for work purposes. Until you get the restricted driving permit, it’s illegal to drive any vehicle for any reason.

Driving Without Your Valid Illinois Driver’s License

The Illinois Vehicle Code clearly states in Section 5/6-112 that if you have a driver’s license or permit it needs to be in your possession at all times while driving. Of course, sometimes people forget. If you’re unlucky enough to be stopped you’ll probably get arrested.

But don’t freak out. Take a deep breath, find your driver’s license and look at your court summons. As long as you can prove before or on your court date that you had a valid license when you were stopped the charge will be dropped.

Prove it If you can prove you have a license then you will be fine!

Driving With an Out-of-State License

You can use a valid out-of-state driver’s license for up to 90 days after moving to Illinois. After that you’ll need to get a license issued by Illinois or risk getting a ticket.

They do things a little differently in Illinois. Here the Office of the Secretary of State is in charge of issuing driver’s licenses. As long as your current out-of-state license is valid you can get an Illinois driver’s license by providing acceptable identification, proving Illinois residency, passing the vision test, written exam and possibly a driving exam.

Krista Doyle
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