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Getting behind the wheel (or back behind the wheel after a DUI or other license suspension) means getting all your ducks in a row.  Below is everything you need to know to make sure you can drive.

Information you’ll find on this page…

Obtaining a Driver’s License

To obtain your first driver’s license in Illinois, you will need to take both a written and a road test. You will also need to provide acceptable, original identification documents. You can currently apply for a Standard or a REAL ID license, however, a REAL ID or a passport will be required to board a plane starting October 2021.

Testing process:

Vision Screening

If you need glasses or contacts, a restriction will be placed on your license that requires you to always wear them when you drive

Written Exam

The test consists of 35 questions – 20 multiple choice or true and false questions and 15 traffic sign identification questions

Driving Exam

  • Must provide a vehicle that is licensed and insured
  • Will be tested on the following:
    1. Start the vehicle
    2. Start uphill
    3. Proper speed usage
    4. Back the vehicle
    5. Park downhill
    6. Proper lane usage
    7. Turn about
    8. Start downhill
    9. Park uphill
    10. Control your vehicle

Graduated Driver’s License

Getting your driver’s license is one of the most exciting times in any person’s young life.  It’s a significant life event that brings along with it a lot of responsibility.  Here is some basic information about the process to obtain your first driver’s license and some of the responsibilities that come along with it.

Permit Phase – Drivers Age 15

  • Must be enrolled in approved driver education course and pass vision and written tests
  • Must have a permit for at least 9 months
  • 50 hours, including 10 nighttime hours, documented by a parent or an adult over 21 years old
  • A moving violation conviction results in a 9-month waiting period before applying for driver’s license

Initial Licensing Phase – Drivers age 16-17

  • Parent/guardian must certify that 50 hours (10 at night) have been completed with this log
  • Parent/guardian must accompany teen to provide written consent to obtain license or complete and notarize appropriate form
  • Completion of state-approved driver education course
  • Nighttime restrictions:
    • Sunday – Thursday 10pm-6am; Friday – Saturday 11pm-6am
  • Must be conviction free for 6 months prior to turning 18 in order to move to full licensing phase.  A conviction may extend GDL requirements beyond 18.
  • First 12 months or until driver turns 18, whichever is first:
    • Number of passengers is limited to one person under age 20 unless they are a sibling or child of driver.
    • After this period, number of passengers is limited to one in front seat and the number of seat belts in the back seat
  • Moving violation conviction within the first year of licensing = 6 month extension of passenger limitation
  • To obtain court supervision for a moving violation, an in court appearance with a parent/guardian is required along with traffic safety school

Full Licensing Phase – Drivers 18-20

  • No age-related restrictions apply unless violations occur that extend the initial licensing phase. The Secretary of State sends written notice of any extension.
  • If you are seeking a driver’s license while 18-20 years old, you need to complete a 6-hour adult driver education course

Court Supervision and Your GDL

When you are a young driver, traffic citations have a much greater impact on your driver’s license than when you’re older.  Court supervision is essential because convictions go on your permanent driving record, insurance premiums may be increased, and you may lose your license much quicker.  Here are the rules surrounding court supervision.

16-17 year olds:  You must appear in court with a parent/guardian in order to receive court supervision.  You are only eligible for court supervision ONE time for serious traffic offenses, rather than twice. You are eligible for court supervision twice within 12 months for non serious traffic offenses.

Two moving violation convictions occurring within a 24-month period results in a minimum one-month driver’s license suspension. The suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses, the corresponding point values assigned to the convictions on a driver’s record, and the driver’s prior driving history. An additional driver’s license suspension will result for each subsequent moving violation following the initial suspension.

18-20 year olds: You are only eligible for court supervision ONE time for serious traffic offenses, rather than twice. You are eligible for court supervision twice within 12 months for non serious traffic offenses. You are allowed to go online or mail in a request for court supervision and traffic safety school, if eligibile.

Two moving violation convictions occurring within a 24-month period results in a minimum one-month driver’s license suspension. The suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses, the corresponding point values assigned to the convictions on a driver’s record, and the driver’s prior driving history. An additional driver’s license suspension will result for each subsequent moving violation following the initial suspension.

Drivers 21+

Once you turn 21, not only can you buy alcohol or marijuana legally, you also graduate to some relaxed requirements regarding possible license suspensions. Once you turn 21, you continue to be eligible for two court supervisions within any 12 month period of time.

Three moving violation convictions occurring within any 12-month period results in a minimum one-month driver’s license suspension. The suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses, the corresponding point values assigned to the convictions on a driver’s record, and the driver’s prior driving history.

Obtaining a CDL

To get a CDL, things are more complicated.

The basic steps to obtain your CDL:

  1. Current/valid Illinois driver’s license
  2. Core Knowledge written test
  3. Combination written test
  4. Air brake written test (if vehicle is equipped)
  5. Pre-trip Inspection – in proper vehicle
  6. Skill Maneuvers – in proper vehicle
  7. Driving road test – in proper vehicle

There are additional requirements and endorsements needed to be able to operate a school bus or a charter bus, including a passenger written test, school bus written test, or charter bus written test.  You may also be required to bring documentation from the bus company.

Click here to access the Secretary of State CDL study guide to start studying for your CDL exam.

Do you need a CDL?

Many people do not know when they are operating a vehicle that requires a CDL.  The best example of this is landscapers who drive a pickup truck and pull a really nice trailer. If the pickup and trailer have a combined weight rating over 26,000 and the trailer by itself is rated at over 10,000 pounds, you need a class A CDL.

Here is a chart that you should follow to determine what license classification is required for your setup:

Class D (regular cars)A single vehicle with GVWR less than 16,001 pounds
Class C  (large vans)Single vehicle with a GVWR between 16,001 and 26,001 pounds
Class B (busses)Single vehicle with a GVWR more than 26,000 or
Vehicle with a GVWR more than 26,000 towing another that is less than 10,001 pounds
Class A (semis)Combination vehicles with a GCWR of 26,001 or more pounds IF the vehicle being towed’s GVWR is more than 10,000 pounds

I have certification from the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association in truck enforcement and can help any CDL driver with anything from overweight’s and permit violations to registration violations and moving violations.

Obtaining a TVDL

You can get a TVDL in Illinois if you can’t get a social security card because of your immigration status. Many people who drive without their license will be pulled over and arrested for Driving Never Having Been Issued a License, a class B misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,500 fine. 

You can get a standard driver’s license (car or motorcycle) when applying for a temporary visitor driver’s license.  You must pass the same tests, including the vision, written, and the driving exam.  But be careful, these licenses aren’t always valid in other states.

If you need help getting your TVDL, or are facing a class B Driving/Never Being Issued a License charge, contact Dan below.

Driver’s License Reinstatement

To get your license reinstated after a DUI suspension, you will have to pay a fee of $250 if you are considered to be a first offender by the Secretary of State, or $500 for repeat offenders.  There are two methods of payment, by mail or by phone.  You must use a credit card over the phone at 217-782-3619.

If you had a CDL prior to the applicable disqualification, you can typically get it back after you have regained your driver’s license.  The main issue at this point will be getting a job that will insure a CDL driver with a DUI on their record.

Formal/Informal Hearings

Once your license is suspended, you should consult with an attorney to see if the suspension can be lifted.  An attorney might be able to reopen old matters or help you clear up tickets that may be causing the suspension.  At the end of a suspension, the process to reinstate a suspended license requires, generally, that a driver pay a reinstatement fee and privileges are fully reinstated.

If your license gets revoked, a much more complicated hearing process is required for any driving relief and eventual reinstatement.   If a conviction for DUI goes on your record, you will eventually need one of these hearings.  Usually, a conviction for DUI happens on a second or subsequent disposition. In other words, you usually get convicted on your second DUI.  In that scenario, you would need a formal hearing.

DUI Revocation

Basic steps for reinstatement:

  • Undergo an alcohol/drug evaluation and the recommended treatment
  • Appear before a Secretary of State hearing officer, demonstrating that you will not be a danger to society.
    • Their decision is based on the seriousness of the offense, the offender’s driving record, and the efforts put forth in treatment
  • Pay a $500 reinstatement fee
  • Pass the driver’s license exam (vision, written, and driving test)
  • File proof of financial responsibility aka SR-22 insurance

If you are convicted of DUI on your first DUI, you would only need an informal hearing.  This is relatively rare for first time McHenry County DUI’s, but happens relatively frequently in some counties to the west.

Prior to any hearing, the Secretary of State will require that any and all DUI classes are complete and that you have obtained an updated evaluation and waiver of further treatment.  McHenry County has some fantastic DUI evaluators that you can find here.

If your license is revoked because of a DUI, you should obtain a copy of your court purposes driving abstract and set up a free consultation below so you can find out how to get driving again.

Other Revocations and Suspensions

Your license can also be revoked for excessive traffic violations, certain leaving the scene of an accident charges, or fleeing or eluding an officer. Informal hearings can be utilized for these types of revocations.  Fraud suspensions are usually cleared up through an informal hearing process as well.

Motions to Vacate

If your driver’s license gets suspended because of too many moving violations, you may have other options to get your license valid. Depending on your driving record, rather than serving out the suspension, you may be able to file motions to vacate to clear up past convictions that are causing a suspension. This is beneficial because you can both lift the suspension early and remove the suspension from your driving record.

The other option would be to serve out the suspension, pay a reinstatement fee, and complete a remedial education course in order to reinstate your driving privileges.

Needless to say, not driving for 30, 60, 90 days or more could be extremely costly.

Most of the time, you can save yourself money, time, and inconvenience by having an attorney take a look at your court purposes driving abstract and looking for motions to vacate to clear up your suspension.

Obtaining a Court Purposes Driving Abstract

If you are trying to get your drivers’ license reinstated, your lawyer may want to see a court purposes driving abstract. You can order one of these online from driver services. You need to get an “Affected” Driving Record Abstract, which includes information not publicly available, and you can only order it for yourself.  You will probably need a copy of your actual driver’s license with all of your information, including issuance date and weight, in order to obtain it online.

If you cannot obtain it online, you can go in person to any Driver’s Services Facility.  When you arrive, go to the front and say you are there to pick up your driving abstract.

If you need help getting on the road, The Nold Law Firm can help. Call 262-719-4442 or fill out the form below.

BAC’s Impact on Driving

Before you get behind the wheel after drinking, you need to consider your blood alcohol content, or BAC. The safest level is, of course, zero. According to the NHTSA, even at .02 you might notice some loss of judgment and a decline in visual functions and divided attention:

BAC TYPICAL EFFECTSPREDICTABLE EFFECTS ON DRIVING
.02Some loss of judgment; relaxation, slight body warmth, altered moodDecline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target), decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention)
.05Exaggerated behavior, may have loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes), impaired judgment, usually good feeling, lowered alertness, release of inhibitionReduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, reduced response to emergency driving situations
.08Muscle coordination becomes poor (e.g., balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing), harder to detect danger; judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impairedConcentration, short-term memory loss, speed control, reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search), impaired perception
.10Clear deterioration of reaction time and control, slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinkingReduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately
.15Far less muscle control than normal, vomiting may occur (unless this level is reached slowly or a person has developed a tolerance for alcohol), major loss of balanceSubstantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing

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