Learn what the Illinois CDL requirements are and the steps necessary to apply and obtain it. Avoid disqualification for missing a document or test.
What is a CDL and Why Do You Need It?
The CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) is a type of driver’s license that is required to operate heavy or large vehicles, plus those that carry hazardous material in the United States. The CDL requirements in Illinois must be fulfilled in order to obtain one.
What are the CDL Requirements in Illinois?
Age: 18 years old to operate intrastate (except for transporting passengers), or 21 years old for interstate commerce, carrying hazardous material, or transporting passengers.
Base License: It is necessary to acquire a CLP (Commercial Leaner’s Permit) to move on to obtaining your CDL. It can be achieved by those who hold a valid Illinois Class D driver’s license. If you recently acquired your CLP, wait at least two weeks to take the CDL examination.
Proof of residence: Provide valid proof of residence in the United States, such as a valid U.S. passport, birth certificate from U.S. jurisdictions, certificate of naturalization or citizenship, U.S. passport card, or permanent resident card. Non-domiciled residents can present an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) or foreign passport accompanied by an I-4 form.
Medical Status: You need a Medical Examination Report filled by you and a doctor, plus following the Illinois CDL requirements for medical fitness, defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Language: It is necessary to prove yourself capable of speaking and reading in the English language.
Citizenship: Aside from the proof of residence, you must prove citizenship in the state to fulfill the Illinois CDL requirements, plus permission to work in the U.S.
Exam: It is necessary to pass the CDL skill/driving test.
Fees: When you fulfill all the Illinois CDL requirements, the CDL costs an extra $60. School bus permits have a separate fee of $4.
Illinois CLP Requirements
In the case that you still do not own a CLP, necessary in accordance with the Illinois CDL requirements, it is necessary to comply with those steps:
- Pass the CLP knowledge written exam.
- Pass the CLP skills exam – waiver is possible for discharged service members with military CDL experience. Applications for the waiver are available here.
- Submit your driving record from the past ten years. It will be checked for all states and the District of Columbia.
- Provide proof of residence document according to the possibilities specified in the topic above.
- Also, provide a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate.
An original or renewing a CLP costs $50. The addition or removal of an endorsement or restriction adds $5.
Illinois CDL Disqualifications and Restrictions for Drivers
The Illinois CDL disqualification factors vary from major offenses to traffic violations, such as:
- Driving under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol – alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater.
- Leaving the scene of an accident.
- Refusing to take any alcohol test.
- Misuse of the vehicle to commit a felony.
- Driving at a speed of 15 mph or more above the speed limit.
- Improper or erratic changes of traffic lane.
- Violating laws related to the control of the traffic.
- Driving recklessly – as per the law.
- Not giving enough distance from the vehicle ahead.
- Not slowing down to check the approach of a train or other cars onto a crossing.
- Failure to obey traffic control devices or officials at a crossing.
- Violating an out-of-service order – adds $2,500 as civil penalty the first time and $5,000 for additional offenses.
What Vehicles Require a CDL in Illinois?
- Vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) above 26,000 pounds, provided that the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the towed vehicle is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
- Any vehicle with a GVWR above 26,000 pounds.
- Vehicles designed to transport 16 or more people – driver included.
- Vehicles that are required by federal law to carry a sign indicating hazardous materials (Hazmat).
Illinois CDL Classes
- Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a combined weight above 26,000 pounds, with a towed vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds or more.
- Class B: Vehicles above 26,000 pounds in gross weight, or if towing another vehicle with 10,000 pounds or less.
- Class C: Vehicles or combination of vehicles that do not fit in Classes A or B. Includes vehicles to transport 16 or more passengers – driver included – or those required to carry a Hazmat sign.
- Class D: Although not part of the FMCSA standards, it might be used to classify regular car driver licenses or specific vehicles.
Illinois CDL Test Requirements – Knowledge and Skills
The knowledge test comprises 20 general areas – outlined in 49 CFR 383.111(a) – and contains 30 or more items. Additional 7 areas – outlined in 49 CFR 383.111(b) – are among the Illinois CDL requirements for the operation of CMV with air brakes. It is necessary to get at least 80% right.
Passing the CDL skills test requires the successful performance of all skills outlined in 49 CFR 383.113 – 383.123. Also, they must be performed in a vehicle that perfectly represents the vehicle class that the applicant wishes to operate or currently operates.
Road tests must have an approved predetermined route, which should match the Illinois and federal requirements.
Skill Test Waiver for Military
The state of Illinois allows those with at least two years of military experience of safe operation of trucks or buses to use that instead of the skill tests, as long as those vehicles were equivalent to civilian commercial vehicles.
It is necessary to apply within one year of leaving their position driving it. Convictions or suspensions of the driver’s license eliminates the waver possibility.
Illinois CDL Medical Requirements
A valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate is required for all commercial drivers in interstate commerce with a GVWR of over 10,000 pounds. Some Illinois CDL medical requirements include:
- Hearing health – perception of a forced whispered voice at not less than five feet, no hearing loss greater than 40 decibels at 500Hz, 1000Hz, and 2,000 Hz. The audiometric device is calibrated to the Z24.5-1951 standard, hearing aids are accepted, and the better ear is considered.
- Vision health – distant visual acuity of 20/40 (Snellen) or better in each eye, or separately corrected to 20/40 or better with corrective lenses;
- Distant binocular acuity at the same level with or without corrective lenses;
- Field of vision of at least 70º in the horizontal Meridian, necessary in each eye;
- Recognition of the colors from traffic signals or devices – red, green, and amber.
- Blood Pressure – under 140/90 or:
- 140/90 – 159/99: Medical certificate of 1 year, renewed every year.
- 160/100 – 179/109: Medical certification of 3 months, renewed every 12 months.
- 180/100 or more: disqualified, with the need of obtaining a medical certification every 6 months when under control.
- Blood, sugar, and protein tests.
CDL Exemptions in the State of Illinois
- Illinois Military Vehicle Operators.
- Farm Equipment Operators – 21 years old, driving vehicle with farm plates within 150 air miles of the farm for agricultural or nursery operations.
- Firefighting Equipment Operators – fire trucks, water or foam transport trucks, SWAT team vehicles, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles.
- RV Operators – Recreational Vehicles for non-commercial use.
Renewals and Takeaway
It is obligatory to renew the CDL every 4 years before the document expires, providing documents that work as Proof of Legal Presence, which is also required for any upgrades. New skills and drive testing are necessary in case of upgrades, too. Keep in mind that the permanent CLP comes within 15 business days.