You can't drive on public roads in Illinois without a driver's license, but with several different classifications of license, it's easy to get confused. However, unless you're driving a commercial vehicle, you need to focus on only one type of license.
Apply for an Illinois Driver's License
To apply for an Illinois driver's license, visit your nearest Driver Services facility with the required ID documents (originals). These must include documents with your written signature, such as a canceled check or passport, your Social Security number, such as your Social Security Card or military discharge papers, your date of birth, such as your birth certificate, and proof of your residency, such as a bank statement.
You must then pass the vision exam, written permit test, and Illinois driving test. If you're a teenager, you must also complete the Graduated Driver License (GDL) program, which includes getting a learner's permit and passing Driver's Ed.
Commercial Illinois Driver's Licenses
Commercial driver's licenses in Illinois are Class A, B, C, or a combination of those, in accordance with federal Commercial Driver License, or CDL, guidelines.
Illinois Class C licenses are required to operate vehicles that weigh between 16,000 and 26,000 pounds or tow trailers or vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds, carry hazardous material or more than 16 passengers.
Class B Driver's Licenses in Illinois are for those who need to drive vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds and towing another vehicle not weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
The Class A Driver's License in Illinois is for drivers who operate the heaviest loads, with vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds and towing weight of more than 10,000 pounds. A Class A driver will usually have a B, C and D license designation, permitting him to haul any weight or drive any vehicle.
A CDL is usually required for school bus, child care vehicle and commuter vehicle permits and for vehicles transporting members of a religious or senior citizen community. Illinois drivers who have had their driver's licenses revoked may still be able to drive using special permits for going to work or meeting other family or medical needs.
Noncommercial Illinois Driver's Licenses
A class D license in Illinois is one type of noncommercial Illinois driver's license. This is the most common license, which allows you to operate regular passenger cars and trucks. Another type of noncommercial license is a restricted local driver's license, which is given to residents in towns with small populations who only want to drive within certain local areas, such as to the grocery store.
You need a Class M license to drive a motorcycle in Illinois. If you are at least 18 years old, you can apply for a 12-month Class L or M instruction permit, which allows you to operate a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle with certain restrictions. With a Class M 12-month instruction permit, you may only operate a motorcycle during daylight hours and under the direct supervision of a licensed motorcycle driver who is at least 21 years old and who has a minimum of one year's driving experience.
Illinois driver's license classifications are Class A, B, C, D, L and M, based on the weight and number of wheels of the vehicles, and whether the driver will haul hazardous materials or tow trailers. Most Illinois residents have a noncommercial Class D driver's license.
Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.