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How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Illinois

An Illinois CDL driver’s license is required if you wish to operate a commercial vehicle to earn a living. Therefore, it is important to learn about the types of vehicles that require a CDL as well as the vehicles that are exempt, such as farm vehicles. Moreover, this credentials has different endorsements. You must meet CDL license requirements before an IL CDL can be issued in your name. These requirements include age, residency, citizenship and the ability to pass knowledge and road skill exams. To obtain a CDL license, you must apply at a Secretary of State (SOS) office and submit the proper documents.

An Illinois CDL driver’s license is required if you wish to operate a commercial vehicle to earn a living. Therefore, it is important to learn about the types of vehicles that require a CDL as well as the vehicles that are exempt, such as farm vehicles. Moreover, this credentials has different endorsements. You must meet CDL license requirements before an IL CDL can be issued in your name. These requirements include age, residency, citizenship and the ability to pass knowledge and road skill exams. To obtain a CDL license, you must apply at a Secretary of State (SOS) office and submit the proper documents.

What is an Illinois CDL driver’s license?

A CDL driver’s license is needed for the operation of commercial vehicles. Unlike a regular driver’s license, a CDL can come in one of three different types, as well as endorsements,which allow for the operation of more specific vehicles such as buses and trucks that carry hazardous materials. CDL license requirements do not apply to certain large vehicles, however, even if they are over the weight limit that usually requires a CDL classification. Exempt vehicles include:

  • Farm vehicles that are used within 150 air miles of a farm.
  • Emergency vehicles, such as firetrucks and ambulances.
  • Recreational vehicles (RVs), such as motor homes, travel trailers and other vehicles that are deemed to be recreational.
  • Military vehicles.
  • Township vehicles, such as vehicles that are used for plowing, sanding, salting or removing snow or ice.

Understanding the Types of CDL Licenses Vehicles in Illinois

If you are wondering how to apply to a commercial driver’s license, it is important to learn about the types of commercial vehicles that are available, as well as which CDL endorsements they require. These different classifications include:

  • Class A – These combination vehicles have a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds and allow for a vehicle being towed to be an excess of 10,000 pounds. Class A endorsements can also operate class B, C and D vehicles, as long as the proper endorsements are acquired.
  • Class B – Class B licenses are needed to operate single vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds or when towing another vehicle that does not exceed 10,000 pounds. Operators with Class B CDL endorsements may also operate Class C and D vehicles with the proper endorsements.
  • Class C – This type of license is meant for the operation of single vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of at least 16,001 pounds, but less than 26,001 pounds.
  • Class D — Single vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of less than 16,001 that still require a CDL licensedue to endorsements or certain restrictions.

Before you get a CDL driver’s license, it is important to know what class of license you will need to obtain, as you must perform your road skill exam in the same type of vehicle that you wish to be licensed for.

Who meets Illinois CDL license requirements?

In order to obtain an Illinois CDL driver’s license, you must meet specific eligibility requirements. Firstly, you must either be a legal resident in the U.S or a citizen, as well as an IL resident. Moreover, a license can only be issued to an individual who is at least 18 years of age. Furthermore, you will not be permitted to operate a commercial outside of the state if you are under the age of 21.

CDL license requirements also include that you are in well-enough physical health to operate a commercial vehicle. In general, there are a variety of medical conditions and medications that can disqualify you from obtaining a CDL. Thus, before you can even apply for a CDL, an approved physician must examine you and provide a medical certificate certifying that you meet certain health standards.

How to Apply to a Commercial Driver’s License in Illinois

If you are wondering how to get a commercial license in Illinois, it is important to know that you must apply in person at a Secretary of State (SOS) facility. During your visit, you will need to:

  • Complete an application.
  • Submit the appropriate documentation, including identification documents, medical certificate and payment for applicable fees
  • Complete a vision exam and written test.

After you complete these steps, a CDL license permit will be issued in your name. This permit can be used for you to operate a commercial vehicle under the supervision of another CDL holder who is sitting in the passenger seat. Overall, permits must be held for a minimum of 14 days before a road skill exam can be scheduled. Once you feel ready, you will be able to schedule that test. After you pass the road skill exam, a CDL with full privileges will be issued in your name.

Illinois CDL Driver’s License Documentation Requirements

When you first apply for an IllinoisCDL license, you will be asked to provide various types of documentation that serve as proof of age, written signature, Social Security Number (SSN) and state residency. To apply for a commercial driver’s license, you must also present your medical certificate at the time of your application.

If you already have a standard driver’s license in IL, you can present that credential to satisfy various CDL requirements, proving your written signature, date of birth and Social Security Number (SSN) all at once. If you do not have a state-issued driver’s license, you must provide documentation that supports each of those categories. For instance, written signature proof can be fulfilled with a canceled check, a signed credit or debit card, mortgage documents, military documents, a signed Social Security card, or more. You can also use military service records and a Social Security card to provide proof of Social Security Number (SSN).

The CDL license requirements regarding date of birth can be satisfied with a birth certificate, military service record or passport, to name a few. Finally, regardless of whether or not you have an Illinois driver’s license, you must provide proof of address. To do this, present a document such as:

  • A recent utility bill.
  • A paystub or electronic deposit receipt.
  • A bank statement.
  • A mortgage or lease agreement.
  • A cancelled
  • An insurance policy.

Testing Required in Getting a Commercial Driver’s License in IL

In order to obtain a commercial driver’s license in Illinois, you must be able to pass a vision test and knowledge exam. The general knowledge exam will cover the safe operation of a commercial vehicle, mechanical based questions andstate traffic laws. Depending on the commercial driver’s license endorsements that you seek, an additional knowledge exam related to that endorsement must be successfully completed. Each test requires a minimum of 80 percent of correct answers in order to be completed, except for school bus endorsements. In that case, applicants will be required to answer 90 percent of the questions correctly in order to pass.

After obtaining a CDL license permit, you will only be able to schedule a road skill exam after 14 days. However, a permit will remain valid for a 180-day period. As a general rule, road skill exams must be scheduled in advance. These tests will cover multiple points, including a detailed inspection of the commercial vehicle, a basic maneuver exam and an on-road skills test. You must successfully pass all three portions in order to get a commercial driver’s license.

Understanding Illinois CDL Endorsements

In addition to the abovementioned Illinois CDL information, it is imperative that you learn more about the endorsements that you can earn while attempting to obtain your first CDL, as well as at a later date, should you need them.These CDL qualifications allow you to operate a specific set of commercial vehicles, such as trucks that carry hazardous materials, buses and school buses. Available endorsements are:

  • Passenger endorsement (P) –Knowledge and road testsare required. Endorsement P is required for anyone who wishes to operate a commercial vehicle designed to carry 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
  • Charter bus endorsement (C) –Required of anyone who intends to drive a charter type of bus that transports students for school-sponsored activities. A knowledge test and a driving test will be required for this CDL endorsement.
  • Double/Triple trailer endorsement (T) –Only a knowledge test is required. This endorsement is only available to Class A CDLs.
  • Hazardous materials endorsement (H) –Endorsement H is required if you will be operating a vehicle that transports hazardous materials and is required to display a hazardous placard. Despite the fact that only a written test is needed, you must first be approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) before the test for this CDL driver’s license can be attempted.
  • School bus endorsement (S) –Knowledge and road skills will be required of anyone who would like to operate a yellow school bus designated to transport students on 12th grade or under. You must also obtain a P endorsement at the same time.
  • Tank endorsement (N) –This endorsement is for commercial vehicles that are designed to carry any liquid or gaseous materials within a tank. Tanks must be in excess of 119 gallons. A knowledge test is required for these types of CDL endorsements.

When you get a commercial driver’s license, the endorsements that you have earned will be displayed on that credential. Should you need additional endorsements later, you will only need to apply for those other specific endorsements. Like a regular license to drive, you must renew your CDL every time that it reaches its expiration date.