CDL laws in Illinois

by Joshua on March 03, 2014

People who wish to drive a commercial vehicle are eligible to apply for a “Commercial Drivers License (CDL)”: in Illinois. Commercial drivers can ride vehicles like truck, school buses, heavy vehicles such as tankers, vehicles carrying Hazardous materials, etc. Any vehicles which need the Federal regulations will have to display placards before transporting hazardous substances.

The CDL driving licenses are classified into Class A, B, C and D respectively. Each of these are again categorized by the endorsements.

  • Class A – This is classified by combination of vehicles which have Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) more than 26,001 or more pounds. Also this provides the Gross Vehicle Weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle towing another vehicle which doesn’t go over 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B – class B to D are all pertinent to single vehicles. Here GVWR is more than 26,001 pounds or any such vehicle towing another not beyond 10,000 pounds.
  • Class CGVWR is greater than 16,001 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds.
  • Class D – If the GVWR is less than 16,001 pounds.

More details can be obtained here

Requirements to apply for CDL in Illinois

A candidate aspiring to apply for a CDL in Illinois should be a minimum 18 years of age and should be above 21 years if intending to drive out of state. Obtaining a CDL is a must if you wish to drive commercial vehicles. If you hold a valid CDL, you are required to report the Secretary of State’s office within 10 days of your address has changed or name has changed. You should also obtain a corrected drivers license within 30 days time.


Certain drivers can be exempted of CDL rules under certain State and Federal Law. Also Federal Motor Career Safety Administration re-validates these exemptions for safe operation of the commercial vehicles. Below are certain categories of drivers who can be exempted from applying for CDL before they drive the vehicles. However, they are required to hold a valid driver’s license.

  • Township employees – They are allowed to drive within the boundaries of road district or township for removing snow, ice, sanding, salting are generally waived from CDL requirement.
  • Military vehicle operators – If the operators are from US Department of Defense such as Military, National Guard, members of National reserves or Military technicians, they are exempt from CDL.
  • Recreational vehicle operators – If you want to operate commercial vehicle for family/recreational purposes, then you don’t need to apply for CDL.
  • Firefighting equipment operators – Illinois waves CDL for firefighters as they are needed to undergo extensive training. They are exempted to apply for CDL only if they are using the Government owned firefighting equipment.
  • Farm Operators- This is mainly for farmers who wish to drive commercial vehicles from farm to market and vice versa and not for any commercial gain. Even the farmer’s immediate relative on both maternal and paternal side is exempt from applying for CDL.


If you wish to drive specific vehicle like a commercial vehicle carrying hazardous material, then you should go for the specific endorsements. Below are certain endorsements every CDL Driver should be aware of in Illinois.

Farm Related Services Restricted CDL

In any 12 month period, a seasonal CDL which is restricted for 90 – 180 days driving valid just for 150 miles of an employee’s work place. The candidate should meet the below requirements:

  • Should hold a valid non CDL Class B license
  • Should be employed by supplier, farm retail outlet, livestock feeder, harvester, agri-chemical business, etc.

The holder should not have multiple licenses, records of suspended, cancellation or revocation of driver license, conviction of any type of vehicle accidents, or drugs, alcohol, traffic violations, speeding, reckless driving, accidents related to traffic law violation, death or serious injury of the opponent driver, etc. This Farm Related services for CDL at Illinois is very strict and cannot be compromised under any circumstances.

Besides all the restrictions, requirements, exemptions, etc, the CDL laws in Illinois is very tight. Every candidate should pass the written tests and skills test before they request for a CDL driver’s license. Even if you have a CDL driver’s license from another state, Illinois expects you to apply for a fresh CDL after you cancel the previous one. All the process need to begin from the scratch and you should show your competency before you avail your CDL in Illinois.

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