Illinois Driver's Education

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Instruction permit requirements in Illinois

Here's what is needed to get a learner's permit in Illinois:

  • You will have to pay a fee. See the fee list from the Illinois Secretary of State.
  • You will have to pass a vision screening.
  • You will have to pass the written exam for the license classification you are seeking.
  • You will need to provide documents for identification. The Illinois Secretary of State has a list of acceptable documents to get a driver's license and state ID card.
  • If you are age 15 to 17, you must be enrolled in or about to take an approved driver education class.
  • An adult instructor must be in the passenger seat when you use your permit for the behind-the-wheel portion of a driver education class.
  • You can practice driving with an adult who is at least age 21, has a license for the type of vehicle you're driving and has at least one year of driving experience.
  • If you are under age 18, your instruction permit will be valid for two years. You must hold a learner's permit for nine months prior to getting a driver's license.
  • If you are age 18 or older, your instruction permit will be valid for one year.
  • If you are age 17 and three months or older, you can apply for a permit without taking a driver's education course.
  • If you get a driver's license before your instruction permit expires, you may not be required to pay an additional fee.

Cooperative driver testing program

This program allows state-certified instructors to give behind-the-wheel road exams to their students. These tests are regulated and approved by the Illinois Secretary of the State. The student must:

  • Complete a minimum of 30 hours of classroom study and six hours of behind-the-wheel training.
  • Receive a combined grade of A or B.
  • Have an approval letter from a parent/guardian.
  • Pass the instructor-administered behind-the-wheel exam.

After completing the approved driver education course, the Illinois State Board of Education will send the information to the Secretary of State's office. To apply for a driver's license at age 16, a student must hold an instruction permit for nine months. The student will need to provide a driver services facility with:

  • A certificate that verifies 50 hours of practice driving time.
  • Written parental consent.
  • Acceptable identification that verifies full legal name, written signature, date of birth, Social Security number and Illinois residency. The Illinois Secretary of State has provided a list of acceptable documents.
  • A required fee.

If you complete this program, the road exam is generally waived. However, some students may be required to take the road exam to ensure the quality and integrity of the program.

Graduated driver licensing program (GDL)

GDL programs give teens the chance to gain driving experience with an adult in the car before "graduating" to a full driver's license. For example, drivers ages 16 to 17 in the "initial licensing phase" have nighttime driving restrictions. Once a driver reaches age 18 to 20 and has satisfied the requirements in the initial phase, the driver will have a "full license" and will not have any age-related driving restrictions.

For more information on the Illinois GDL program, including tips on driving, Illinois has a parent-teen driving guide.

Adult driver education in Illinois

Depending on your age and other factors, if you want an Illinois driver's license you may have to take an adult driver education class:

  • If you are age 18 to 20 and have never been licensed or completed an approved driver education course, you must complete a six-hour adult driver education course.
  • If you are applying for an Illinois driver's license for the first time and you have never taken any type of driver education course in high school or through a commercial driving school, you must complete a six-hour adult driver education course.

This course does not require behind-the-wheel training, but it is highly encouraged. You may be able to take the course in a classroom or online. The fee for the course depends on which provider you select for the class. After completing the course, you'll still need pass a vision exam, written exam and behind-the-wheel test at a driving facility.

For more information, Illinois has an FAQ available.

Updated July 24, 2018

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