You must be age 18 to apply for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to drive in Illinois and age 21 to drive outside Illinois. By law, drivers who hold a valid CDL must notify the Secretary of State’s office of an address change or name change within 10 days and must obtain a corrected driver’s license within 30 days.
As is required for any driverʼs license, CDL applicants are required to show documentation verifying their identity, date of birth, Illinois residency, signature and Social Security number.
Most operators of commercial vehicles with a gross motor vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds or more are required to carry a Medical Examiner’s Certificate with them at all times while operating a second division vehicle. In addition, these drivers are required to maintain a file that contains a written exam verification, driving exam verification and other records. The Secretary of State’s office is not responsible for regulating or enforcing these regulations and does not have the forms necessary for compliance with these regulations. Enforcement is the responsibility of the Illinois State Police.
CDL tests are administered only in English. To request an oral CDL computerized test at a facility equipped with automated written testing equipment, please contact the facility manager. In addition to the vision screening required for all drivers, all CDL applicants are required to pass a written exam, and most are required to pass a skills and driving exam.You may schedule CDL exams at Schedule a CDL Appointment or call 217-785-3013.
- Computerized Written Knowledge Exam — The computerized written knowledge exam consists of standardized multiple-choice questions, which all CDL applicants must answer. In addition, specialized exams are added if you wish to operate any of the following vehicles: vehicles with air brakes (also requires a skills and road test), combination vehicles, double or triple trailers, vehicles carrying hazardous materials, passenger-carrying vehicles, school buses or tanker vehicles.
- Third-time Fail Rule — CDL applicants who fail any CDL exam(s) three times are required to wait 30 days from the date of the third failed exam. Three additional failures (six total failures) of the same exam(s) will result in a 90-day waiting period. Three additional failures (nine total failures) of the same exam(s) after the 90-day waiting period will result in a one-year waiting period from the date of the last failed exam. The waiting periods apply only to the exam(s) failed three times.
- Skills and Driving Exam — After passing the written exam, some drivers are required to pass a skills and driving exam. Each portion of the skills test must be taken in a vehicle representative of the license classification you wish to obtain. Proof of insurance is required for every vehicle prior to the exam.
- The exam is divided into three parts:
- Pre-trip inspection of the vehicle
- Basic control skills exam
- Driving exam
- Special Testing Requirements — Out-of-state applicants must take all CDL written and road exams to obtain an Illinois CDL. A CDL instruction permit expires one year from the issuance date. All CDL written exams must be retaken to renew an instruction permit. Written exams are valid for one year. A CDL holder requiring a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) must complete a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) form and submit to a fingerprint background check.
A motorist must drive an approved predetermined route for a CDL Road Test. A map of the route along with a narrative explaining the maneuvers must be submitted with your applications. Once a test route is established and approved, it may be used indefinitely for certification. A CDL test route design must incorporate all the specified maneuvers listed below—
- Four left and four right turns — Include turns at traffic lights, stop signs and uncontrolled intersections. Turns should range from easy to somewhat difficult for a heavy vehicle. A mix of types of intersections should be included.
- Straight section of urban business street — The section should be one to two miles long, contain through intersections and intersections with traffic lights, and have moderate traffic density. Try to get a section where the driver can make lane changes along the route. The section should be one that lets you see how the driver copes with traffic in a typical business area.
- One through intersection and two intersections where a stop has to be made — If possible, these intersections should be included in the urban section.
- One railroad crossing— Try to get an uncontrolled crossing. The crossings should have enough sight distance for you to see if the driver makes search head movements when approaching each crossing. The driver’s attempt to look left and right down the track will often be the only way you can tell if the driver noticed the crossing. If you do not have a railroad crossing in your area, do the following:
- For bus and HAZMAT applicants, create a simulated railroad crossing. This will be on a lightly traveled section of the street or road that contains a landmark that you can point out to the driver, and tell the driver to treat as a railroad crossing. The landmark can be an intersection, an entrance to the road, or even a billboard. Instruct the driver to do whatever he or she would do at a real railway crossing.
- For all other applications, simply add one extra through intersection to the route.
- Curve, either to the left or to the right — Try to get a curve that is tight enough to produce noticeable off-tracking on a tractor-trailer.
- Section of expressway or two-land rural or semi-rural road — You must have an expressway section if there is an expressway in or close to your testing area. The two-lane rural section may be used when there is no expressway available. The expressway section should be a four-lane controlled access highway such as an interstate. The section should start with a conventional ramp entrance and end with a conventional ramp exit. The section should be long enough for a heavy vehicle to do two lane changes during this section. The rural highway section should be at least two miles. Try to find a road that has at least a section with four lanes where lane changes can be made. In general, when you choose a section of rural road, look for something that gives driving challenges as close as possible to those found on an expressway.
- Downgrade steep that is long enough to require gearing down and braking. A steep short hill is the next best choice if a longer grade cannot be found. Try to find a grade where it should be obvious to a driver approaching the grade that the grade will require proper downgrade driving precautions.
- Simulated downgrade — Flat section of road where you can ask a driver to go through the motions of driving down a steep grade. The section should be about a quarter mile long, have little or no traffic, or have several lanes so a slow vehicle will not interfere with traffic. If the real downgrade on your route is likely to give a poorly prepared driver a problem, it is a good idea to locate the simulated grade so that it comes before the real grade.
- Upgrade steep long enough to require gear changing to maintain speed. A steep, short hill is the next best choice if a long grade cannot be found. You may use the same grade for both the downgrade and the upgrade if it is hard to find steep grades in your area.
- Downgrade for stopping where a vehicle can be safely stopped and parked for short period — The grade needs to be only steep enough to cause a vehicle to roll if the driver does not park properly. Remember that you only need a gentle slope to cause a heavy vehicle to roll.
- Upgrade for stopping where a vehicle can be safely stopped and parked for a short period — Use the same grade as you need to.
- One underpass, or low clearance, or a bridge — An underpass should have a posted clearance height and a bridge should have a posted weight limit. If you cannot find underpasses or bridges with posted limits, use ones that do not have posted limits. If you cannot find any low clearance or bridges, look for places that have signs a heavy vehicle driver should see (e.g., No Commercial Vehicles after 11 p.m. or Bridge with 10 Ton Weight Limit in 5 Miles).
- New applicants not possessing a Class A, B, or C Illinois CDL, $60
- Additional $5 fee for applicants renewing a L or M license.
- Applicants renewing a current Illinois CDL, $60
- Additional $5 fee for applicants renewing a L or M license.
- Applicants renewing a current Illinois Limited School Bus CDL, $20
- Applicants possessing a non-CDL upgrading to a CDL, $50
- Applicants possessing a CDL upgrading to a different class CDL, $5
- Applicants possessing a CDL adding/changing an endorsement/restriction, $5
Licensing Agency & Website:
Illinois Secretary of State, http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/drivers/drivers_license/CDL/cdl.html