Illinois Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Requirements
If you’re looking for a career as a professional driver, chances are you’ll need to get a commercial drivers license. Getting an Illinois Commercial Drivers License, also known as the Illinois CDL, can be a challenge; there are quite a few Illinois CDL requirements as well as a considerable amount of skill and knowledge involved. We’ve broken down the process to help you understand what you’ll need to earn your Illinois CDL.
Illinois Basic CDL Requirements
You’ll need to be at least 18 years old to apply for an Illinois Commercial Drivers License. Commercial drivers between the age of 18 and 21 are only allowed to operate a commercial vehicle in Illinois. Once you turn 21, your Illinois CDL will be valid across the U.S., and you’ll be able to work as an interstate commercial driver.
Before you apply for an Illinois Commercial Drivers License, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’ll actually need one! Not all commercial driving requires a CDL. For example, if you’re working as a farmer, and your work involves driving a truck to transport your goods to market, you may be exempt. You can find a complete list of Illinois CDL exemptions at the official Illinois Commercial Drivers License webpage. Generally speaking, though, you’ll need a commercial drivers license if you’ll be operating the following:
• Combination of vehicles weighing 26, 001 pounds or more,
• Single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26, 001 pounds or more
• Single vehicle designed to transport more than 15 persons (including the driver)
• Any size vehicle which requires hazardous material placards.
Illinois CDL Classifications and Endorsements
There are a wide variety of vehicles that you may drive as a commercial driver, and you’ll be required to show that you’re qualified to operate the type of vehicle your job requires. Classifications refers to the size of the vehicle. Class D through B vehicles run the size gamut from less than 16,001 pounds (D) to over 26,001 pounds (B). A Class A vehicle is a combination of vehicles with a weight greater than 26,001 pounds, with the trailer or vehicle being towed weighing more than 10,000 pounds. Endorsements refers to either the type of vehicle (i.e., school bus) and/or any special equipment that the vehicle is outfitted with (i.e., air brakes).
Illinois Commerical Drivers License Test
Getting your Illinois CDL requires you to pass two exams: a written knowledge test and a road skills test. To take the road skills test, you must first pass the written exam. You’ll need to schedule an appointment to take both the written and road skills tests; you can schedule to those exams at the Schedule an Illinois CDL Appointment page.
The state of Illinois has introduced a program aimed at current or recently discharged military personnel that may allow them (based on their military driving experience) to waive the road skills test. For more information about that program, you’ll need to contact your local Illinois Secretary of State Office.
Illinois CDL Medical Card
Because being a commercial driver can have some considerable physical demands, the state of Illinois requires Illinois CDL holders to pass a physical exam – this exam is more than just an eye test, as you can see by reviewing the Illinois CDL Medical Examination Report. Upon passing, Illinois CDL holders will be issued a Medical Examiner’s Certificate, which must be renewed every two years (unless a doctor determines that it needs to be renewed sooner).