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Illinois Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

Illinois CDL Requirements
You must be age 18 to apply for an Illinois Commercial Driver's License (CDL) to drive in Illinois and age 21 to drive outside Illinois. You must obtain an Illinois CDL if you operate:
  • Any combination of vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, providing the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • A vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
  • By law, drivers who hold a valid Illinois 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.

Illinois CDL Exemptions
Under state and federal law, certain drivers are not subject to the requirements of the Illinois CDL program. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has determined these exemptions will not diminish the safe operation of commercial vehicles on the highways. Although the following vehicle operators are not required to obtain Illinois CDLs, they are required to hold the proper driver's license classification for the type of vehicles they are operating.
  • Farm Operators -The farm operators' exemption is intended to cover legitimate farm-to-market operations by farmers, not commercial grain haulers. If the farmer, his spouse and their children, parents on both sides, brothers and sisters on both sides and their spouses are operating a truck-tractor semi-trailer combination or combinations and meet the below criteria, they are also exempt from the CDL Program. However, these drivers must be age 21 and the vehicle must have Farm plates. Illinois CDLs are not required to operate vehicles that are:
    • Controlled and operated by a farmer, a member of the farmer's family or an employee;
    • Used to transport farm products, equipment, supplies or a combination thereof to or from a farm (including nurseries and aquacultures);
    • Used within 150 air miles of the person's farm;
    • Not used in the operations of a common or contract motor carrier; and
    • Used in nursery or agricultural operations.
  • Firefighting Equipment Operators - Because firefighting organizations have extensive initial training and re-training requirements for their equipment operators, Illinois waives CDL requirements for operators of firefighting equipment owned or operated by or for a government agency. The firefighting and other emergency equipment must have audible and visual signals. The equipment must either be necessary for the preservation of life or property or used in the execution of emergency governmental functions that are normally not subject to general traffic rules and regulations.
  • Recreational Vehicle Operators - Illinois waives CDL requirements for drivers of a recreational vehicle primarily operated as family/personal conveyance for recreational purposes. This includes motor homes and travel trailers.
  • Military Vehicle Operators - U.S. Department of Defense military vehicles being driven by non-civilian personnel for military purposes are exempt from CDL requirements. This includes any driver on active military duty, members of the Reserves, National Guard, personnel on part-time training and National Guard military technicians.
  • Township Employees - An employee of a township or road district with a population of less than 3,000, driving a vehicle within the boundaries of the township or road district for the purpose of removing snow or ice from a roadway by plowing, sanding or salting, is waived from CDL requirements. This exemption is allowed providing that the employee who ordinarily operates the vehicle and holds a properly classified CDL is unable to operate the vehicle or is in need of additional assistance due to a snow emergency.

Illinois CDL Classifications:
  • Class A - Combination of vehicles with a GCWR* of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the GVWR of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B - Single vehicle with a GVWR* of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C - Single vehicle with a GVWR* of at least 16,001 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds.
  • Class D - Single vehicle with a GVWR* of less than 16,001 pounds.
    *GCWR - Gross Combination Weight Rating
    *GVWR - Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

Illinois CDL Endorsements:
  • Air Brakes - Further testing is required is required if the vehicle is equipped with air brakes. An "L" restriction is placed on a CDL if an individual is not able to operate a vehicle that is equipped with air brakes. To qualify to operate a vehicle equipped with air brakes, an applicant must successfully pass the written air brake test and take the CDL skills test in a vehicle equipped with air brakes. To remove an "L" restriction from a Illinois CDL, an air brake written test and a drive test in a vehicle equipped with air brakes are required.
  • Combination Vehicle (X) - Further testing is required to drive combination vehicles.
  • Passenger Endorsement (P) - Further testing is required to drive a vehicle designed to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver).
  • Charter Bus Endorsement (C) - Further testing is required to drive a bus transporting students involved in school sponsored activities.
  • Doubles/triple Endorsement (T) - Further testing is required to drive double or triple trailers.
  • Hazardous Materials Endorsement (H) - Further testing is required to drive a vehicle transporting hazardous material that requires placarding. The hazardous materials endorsement written test must be successfully completed each time your Illinois CDL is renewed.
  • School Bus Endorsement (S) - Further testing is required to drive a yellow school bus transporting students to and from school and/or school-related functions.
  • Tank Endorsement (N) - Further testing is required to drive a vehicle designed to carry any liquid or gaseous material within a tank that is permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis.

Illinois CDL Fees
  • 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

Illinois CDL Testing

Illinois CDL Road Tests - A motorist must drive an approved predetermined route for an Illinois 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 Illinois 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).

Illinois CDL Written Tests - Illinois CDL tests are administered only in English. To request an oral Illinois 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 Illinois CDL applicants are required to pass a written exam, and most are required to pass a skills and driving exam.You may schedule Illinois CDL exams at Schedule an Illinois CDL Appointment or call 217-785-3013.
  • Computerized Written Knowledge Exam - The computerized written knowledge exam consists of standardized multiple-choice questions, which all Illinois 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 - Illinois CDL applicants who fail any Illinois 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:
  • Applicants possessing a non-CDL upgrading to an Illinois CDL - $50
  • 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 Illinois CDL written and road exams to obtain an Illinois CDL.
    • An Illinois CDL instruction permit expires one year from the issuance date. All Illinois CDL written exams must be retaken to renew an instruction permit. Written exams are valid for one year.
    • An Illinois CDL holder requiring a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) must complete a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) form and submit to a fingerprint background check.

Illinois CDL Written Knowledge Tests
You will need to pass the Illinois Knowledge Tests that are required for the class of license, restriction, and endorsements you wish to possess. A general knowledge test for the Class A or Class B and C license must be successfully completed by all CDL applicants. The information needed to pass these tests is contained in the FREE Illinois CDL Handbook. Please read and study this manual carefully.
  • Class A - 70 Questions (50 GK + 20 Combination Vehicles) - Skills test required.
  • Class B - 50 Questions - Skills test required.
  • Class C - 50 Questions - Skills test required for bus, school bus and air brakes vehicles..
  • Passenger Endorsement - 20 questions - Skills test required in bus.
  • School Bus Endorsement - 25 questions - Skills test required in school bus.
  • Doubles/Triples Endorsement - 20 questions - No additional skills tests.
  • Tank Vehicle Endorsement - 20 questions - No additional skills tests.
  • Hazardous Materials Endorsement - 30 questions - No additional skills tests.
  • Air Brake Restriction Removal - 25 questions - Additional skills test in vehicle with Air Brakes.

Classes of Illinois CDL and Required Tests

CDL Class Tests Required Possible Endorsements and Required Tests
Class A
(Combination
vehicle endorsement required)

General Knowledge Written Exam

Combination Endorsement Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
T - Doubles/Triples Written Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class B

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class C

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

Note: If upgrading to a Class C from a Class D, no road test is required UNLESS the endorsement requires one.
H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam

Illinois CDL Endorsements

Exam Time Allowed (Minutes) # of Questions on Exam # of Correct Answers Needed to Pass
General Knowledge 60 50 40
Air Brakes 25 25 20
HazMat 30 30 24
Tank 20 20 16
Passenger 20 20 16
Doubles/Triples 20 20 16
Combination Vehicles 20 20 16
School Bus 20 20 16

Quickly access the most complete and accurate Official Illinois CDL Information

Illinois CDL Manual, CDL Illinois Handbook

Illinois CDL Requirements

Access Official Federal CDL General Information

Access Official Federal CDL Medical Requirements Info

Access Official Federal CDL Hazardous Materials Info

Click on the items above to find answers to your Illinois CDL questions

  • What is a Commercial Drivers License (CDL)?
  • How to get a Illinois CDL (Commercial Driver's License)
  • How old do you have to be to get a Illinois CDL (Commercial Driver's License)
  • How to get a Illinois CDL HazMat (Hazardous Materials Endorsement) Permit
  • What is the difference between Interstate and Intrastate?
  • How to get a free Illinois CDL Study Guide
  • How to get a Illinois School Bus CDL
  • How much does a Illinois CDL cost?
  • Where is my nearest Illinois DMV CDL office located?
  • Where can I find Illinois CDL (commercial drivers license) forms?
  • What are the Illinois CDL Medical Requirements?

. . . and answers to many more Illinois CDL questions!

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In addition to the Illinois CDL (commercial driver's license) information found in our website covering the Illinois CDL and in the free Illinois CDL Handbook (which is quite boring and a bit confusing - and doesn't have a single multiple-choice question in it that is asked on the actual tests), the complete online Illinois CDL Practice Test prep program will prepare you to easily pass your Illinois CDL written exams to get your Illinois CDL permit. The skills test modules are invaluable to give you a head start before doing your behind the wheel work, possibly saving you a lot of money. The Illinois CDL test prep program includes the following features . . .
  • Covers ALL Eight Illinois CDL written tests.
    • In separate study modules - you won't need all of them - don't waste time on what you don't require.
  • Covers ALL Three Illinois CDL skills tests.
    • In separate study modules - you won't need all of them - don't waste time on what you don't require.
  • 670 practice Illinois CDL test questions with actual answers.
  • Access to CDL videos covering written and skills tests.
  • CDL study guide in both text and audio - listen as you read along.
  • CDL study Quick Reviews.
  • Interactive online CDL Quizzes.
  • and much more!
May your new CAREER be prosperous!!!

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