Getting Ready for Your Illinois Permit Test: What to Know

Illinois Learner's PermitAre you preparing for your Illinois Driving Test? You will want to read the information below. Illinois has a Graduated License Program (GDL) that is designed to help young drivers safely gain experience before being issued a full driver’s license.

Let’s start with the Learner’s Permit:

You may apply for an Illinois Instruction Permit (called a Learner’s Permit) when you are 15 years old. You must also be enrolled in a state-approved driver’s education course, or be 30 days away from beginning your course.

How do I get my Learner’s Permit?

To apply for a Learner’s Permit, visit your local Secretary of State facility with your parent/guardian. He or she must give written consent, if you are under 18 years old.

All first-time applicants, regardless of age, must provide the following:

A document with a written signature:

  • Driver Education certificate (proof of enrollment)
  • Valid U.S. passport
  • Original Social Security card

A document with a birth date: 

  • Original birth certificate
  • Adoption records
  • Certified high school/grade school transcript

Proof of Illinois residency. TWO documents are required:

  • Bank statement
  • Certified high school/grade school transcript or report card
  • Letter on your school’s official letterhead

What happens at the DMV Office?

Along with your proof of identity and proof of enrollment in a driver’s education class, you will do the following:

  • Pass the vision test
  • Pass the DMV written Illinois Driving Test. Click here for Rules of the Road.
  • Pay the Illinois Learner’s Permit fee (currently $20)

Once you have your Illinois Learner’s permit, you may begin the behind-the-wheel portion of your driver’s education course, and you may also begin logging the 50 required practice hours with your parent/guardian or licensed driver at least 21 years old. Ten hours are to be driven at night.

You must hold your instruction permit for a minimum of 9 months before you are eligible to apply for an Illinois driver’s license. Your permit is valid for 2 years.

Illinois also provides two helpful documents for parents and teens. They are not mandatory but suggested to promote dialogue between parents and the new drivers.

What happens when I have my Illinois Learner’s Permit?

You are on your way to becoming a licensed driver! There are some rules and restrictions to obey after you are issued your Learner’s Permit.

You may drive only under the following conditions:

  • With a supervising driver at least 21 years old who has a valid driver’s license.
  • With one passenger in your front seat, and only as many back-seat passengers as there are seat belts in your vehicle.
  • All occupants must wear seat belts.
  • With your instructional permit on your person at all times. Failure to carry it will cause you to lose your eligibility for a driver’s license until you are 18 years old.

You may NOT drive:

  • Sunday-Thursday: Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: Between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • While using a cell phone at any time, unless you are in an emergency or need to report one. You may not text and drive in any situation.

What happens when I am 16 years old?

At age 16, you are eligible to apply for an Initial License, or provisional license. Besides providing proof of identity, you will be asked for the following:

  • Parent/legal guardian must certify that a minimum of 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night, has been completed.
  • Parent/legal guardian must accompany teen to provide written consent to obtain a driver’s license, OR complete and notarize an Affidavit/Consent for Minor to Drive form.
  • Must have completed a state-approved driver education course
  • Nighttime driving restrictions:
  • Sunday-Thursday: Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: Between 11 p.m.-6 a.m.*
  • Must maintain a conviction-free driving record for six months prior to turning 18 before moving to the Full Licensing Phase. A traffic conviction during the Initial Licensing Phase may extend restrictions beyond age 18.
  • All occupants must wear safety belts.
  • For the first 12 months of licensing, or until the driver turns 18, whichever occurs first, the number of passengers is limited to one person under age 20, unless the passenger(s) is a sibling, stepsibling, child or stepchild of the driver. After this period, the number of passengers is limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
  • Cell phone use while driving including a hands free device, is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.

All information regarding the Illinois Graduated License Program (GDL) is available here.

* Your local curfews may differ from these state-imposed restrictions. Please follow your local curfews unless otherwise directed by law enforcement.

When can I get an Illinois Full Driver’s License?

Once you reach 18 years old without any traffic violations for the last 6 months, you’re eligible for full driving privileges. You may now drive without any curfew or passenger restrictions.

  • You still MAY NOT use a cell phone while driving until you are 19 years old, and you may never text and drive.
  • Your license will be valid until 3 months after you turn 21 years old.

If you would like more information on the Illinois Permit Test, contact us today.