How To Get A CDL In Illinois
Illinois CDL drivers are in high demand. If you want to get your CDL, you’ll need to meet state-specific requirements. The following guide will help you go from wanting to be a truck driver to starting school to realize your dream.
Illinois CDL Requirements
Anyone who wants to receive their CDL must meet these minimum requirements:
- 18 years of age or older (in-state driving); 21+ (out-of-state driving)
- Have your traditional, non-CDL license
- Provide proof of residency
- Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
- Pass written and skills test
If you want to obtain an Illinois CDL, you’ll need to be a resident of the state. You’ll even need to provide proof of residency if you plan on transferring your commercial driver’s license from another state to Illinois.
“Proof of Legal Presence” is outlined by the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State. This is what you’ll need to show that you’re legally in the U.S. and can include things such as:
- U.S. Passport
- Birth Certificate
- Permanent Resident Card
- Other items listed on the site above
Additionally, you’ll need to obtain your CLP 14 days prior to taking your CDL test. Obtaining your CLP means that you need to have a non-CDL base license or a valid Illinois CDL.
Getting Your CLP
- Pass a written test
- Pass skills exam
- Provide Proof of Legal Presence
- Submit your driving record
- Obtain and submit Medical Examiner’s certificate
- Pass vision test
- Pass hearing test
- Provide a copy of your driver’s license
- Pay the examination fee of $50
On top of meeting these Illinois CDL requirements, you’ll need to meet certain physical requirements, too.
Illinois CDL Physical Requirements
All commercial drivers will need to have a medical certificate. You’ll need to pass the DOT physical, which will mean going to a licensed medical examiner. The examiner will need to assess you to ensure that you can safely operate a vehicle.
Every two years, you will need to renew this certificate to verify that you’re physically fit to be a driver.
You can learn more about the DOT medical exam on the FMCSA.
Drivers will need to meet certain:
- Blood pressure requirement
- Urinalysis testing
Self-certification is also required, and this is something that all CDL holders must declare with the Driver Licensing Agency.
What Can Disqualify You from Getting a CDL in Illinois?
If you have a good driving record, you can obtain your CDL with little concern of disqualification. However, there are a few reasons why you may be disqualified from getting your CDL in Illinois, including:
- Refusing to take a blood, urine, or breath test
- Traditional license is revoked or suspended
- Operating a vehicle during a felony
- Driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.04+
- Certain reckless driving
- Failing to avoid an accident by reducing speed
- Driving at 15 miles per hour or higher
If you do not pass the medical exam or any related drug tests, you’ll likely be disqualified from obtaining your CDL.
Illinois CDL Test
Obtaining your CLP is just the first step to getting your CDL. Within two weeks of passing your Illinois CDL permit test, you’ll then need to take your actual CDL test. You’ll need to schedule the exam, and the trucking school you attend should help you with this.
The CDL test will include:
- Taking a skills or driving test
- Paying a $60 processing fee for the license
You’ll want to test in a vehicle type that you’ll be driving as a commercial driver. If you pass the test, congratulations: you’re now a professional driver. You can also choose to obtain certain endorsements, which will allow you to haul different goods, such as hazardous materials.
However, in the meantime, you can haul most goods without needing an endorsement.
Illinois CDL Renewal
Every four years, you’ll need to renew your CDL. You’ll need to renew your license prior to its expiration. You will need to pay a renewal fee and may need to pay additional fees if you have an L or M class.
You’ll also need to:
- Provide Proof of Legal Presence
- Pass a vision test
- Pass hearing test
Drivers may need to pass a written exam if they have certain endorsements, such as an H or X endorsement.
However, if you are 75 or older, you will have a lengthier renewal process that includes:
- Skills test
- Driving test
Renewal fees must be paid at this time, which will vary from $50 to $60, depending on your age or if you’re transferring your license from another state.
Starting Illinois Commercial Driver’s License Classes
First, before seeking classes, consider this question: do you need a CDL? You will need a CDL if you plan on operating any of the following vehicle types:
- Vehicle with a GVWR of over 26,000 pounds
- Combination vehicle exceeding 26,000 pounds or towing over 10,000 GVWR
- Passenger vehicles with 16+ passengers, including the driver
- Hauling a Hazmat material
If you do need to obtain your CDL, you will need to choose from one of three CDL types:
- Class A – combo vehicle of 26,001+; 10,000+ pound trailer
- Class B – single vehicle of 26,001+ pounds; 10,000+ towed vehicle
- Class C – commercial driving outside of the Class A or B or a passenger vehicle of 16+ passengers
Note: Illinois has a military skills test waiver program. If you have experience driving U.S. military vehicles, you can apply for your CDL within a year of leaving the military.
Commercial Driving Schools in Chicago
Being a student at one of the commercial driving schools in Chicago will help you get behind the wheel of a big rig. These schools design their curriculum to help you pass the written test, train you to drive a truck and will help with scheduling your CLP and CDL test.
Some of the leading CDL schools in Illinois include:
Alamo Truck Driving School
Alamo is one of the oldest and best-known trucking schools. The school is one of the best-rated in the city and has been training truckers for decades. Multiple course options are available, including:
- 45-hour brush-up course for CDL drivers trying to reenter the field
- 160-hour course for truck, bus and other operators of commercial vehicles
- 200-hour Class A course
Blue Horizon Truck Driving School
Blue Horizon is a trucking school that states they can help you change your life in 30 days. The school offers CDL training, Class A, Refresher courses and Test prep, too. Students who take the CDL A class will have four weeks of intense schooling where they will:
- Learn all of the information to pass the written exam
- Obtain all of the in-depth training needed to be behind the wheel of a big rig
Classes last four weeks and have 40 hours of class time.
Prairie State College
Prairie State College works with 160 Driving Academy to help train you to obtain your CDL A. Customizable group training is available for businesses, and students will obtain classes at some of the country’s best training centers.
While these are the most popular trucking schools in Chicago, there are many others all throughout the state. You’ll find CDL America operates in Aurora, 106 Driving Academy in multiple cities and there are many others, too.
If you want to get a CDL in Illinois, the guide above will help you reach your goal. Please keep in mind that the fees and requirements are subject to change.