Teen Driving

Illinois Graduated Drivers Licensing
The Illinois Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program was established to aid young, novice drivers in how to be a good driver. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 15-20. In 2005, 12.6% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were age 15-20. Yet this same group accounts for just 6.3 percent of the driving population. Recent studies show that a comprehensive graduated driver licensing program can reduce teen fatal crashes. A study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that Illinois' new GDL law could reduce fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers by 38%.

The Illinois Graduated Licensing Program contains three phases which every new teenage driver must complete. Each phase has specific rules and requirements which must be adhered to in order to obtain the necessary skills required to safely operate a vehicle on the road.

Permit Phase Drivers Age 15
  • Parent/guardian consent required to obtain an instruction permit.
  • Must be enrolled in an approved driver education course, and must pass vision and written exams.
  • A nighttime driving restriction is in place Sunday-Thursday, 10 p.m. - 6 a.m., and Friday-Saturday, 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (local curfews may differ from the nighttime driving restriction).
  • Permit must be held for a minimum of nine months.
  • Must practice driving a minimum of 50 hours, including 10 hours of nighttime driving, supervised by a parent or adult age 21 or older with a valid driver's license.
  • Must not acquire any driving convictions during the nine-month permit phase.
  • Number of passengers limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
  • All occupants under age 19 must wear safety belts.
  • Cell phone use while driving is prohibited except in the case of an emergency to contact a law enforcement agency, health care provider, or emergency services agency.
  • Permit is valid for up to two years.
Sanctions
Limit of one court supervision for serious driving offenses. To obtain court supervision, driver must appear in person before the presiding court with a parent or legal guardian and must also attend traffic safety school.

Conviction of a moving violation results in a nine-month waiting period before applying for a driver's license.
Not eligible for any hardship permit. 

Anyone caught driving without a permit will be ineligible to obtain a driver's license until age 18. 

Initial Licensing Phase - Drivers Age 16-17
  • Parent/guardian must certify that a minimum of 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours of nighttime driving, has been completed.
  • Parent/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.
  • A nighttime driving restriction is in place Sunday-Thursday, 10 p.m. - 6 a.m., and Friday-Saturday, 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (local curfews may differ from the nighttime driving restriction).
  • Must maintain a conviction-free driving record for six months prior to turning age 18 before moving to the Full Licensing Phase. A traffic conviction during the initial licensing phase may extend restrictions beyond age 18.
  • All occupants under age 19 must wear safety belts.
  • For the first year of licensing, or until the driver is age 18, whichever occurs first, the number of passengers is limited to one person under age 20, unless the additional passenger(s) is a sibling, step-sibling, child, or step-child 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 is prohibited except in the case of an emergency to contact a law enforcement agency, health care provider or emergency services agency.
Sanctions
Limit one court supervision for serious offenses. To obtain court supervision, a driver must appear in person before the presiding court with a parent or legal guardian and must also attend traffic safety school. 

Conviction of any moving violation before age 18 generates a Secretary of State warning letter to the parent and teenager. 

Two moving violation convictions occurring within a 24-month period results in a minimum one-month driver's license suspension. Suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses and the driver's prior driving history. An additional driver's license suspension will result for each subsequent moving violation following the initial suspension. 

Any moving violation conviction that occurs within the first year of licensure will result in a six-month extension of the passenger limitation, which allows no more than one unrelated passenger under age 20. 

Suspended drivers are required to attend a remedial education course, may be retested and must pay a $70 reinstatement fee. 

Full Licensing Phase - Drivers 18-20
  • No age-related restrictions apply except in cases where a driver fails to move from the Initial Licensing Phase to the Full Licensing Phase.
  • Cell phone use while driving for persons under age 19 is prohibited except in the case of an emergency to contact a law enforcement agency, health care provider or emergency services agency.
Sanctions
Limit one court supervision for serious offenses. 

Two moving violation convictions occurring within a 24-month period result in a minimum one-month driver's license suspension. Suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses and the driver's prior driving history. An additional driver's license suspension will result for each subsequent moving violation following the initial suspension. 

Suspended drivers are required to pay a $70 reinstatement fee. 

Laws Parents and Teens Should Know
Parental Access to Teen Driving Records
Effective January 1, 2008. Parents may view their teen's (under age 18) driving record free through the Secretary of State website. Several security features will protect the teen's privacy and ensure that only the parents/legal guardians are granted access to the teen's driving record.

Driver's License Suspension for Alcohol Consumption
Effective January 1, 2008. A person under the age of 21 who is found guilty or granted court supervision for a violation of state law or local ordinance relating to illegal consumption, possession, purchase or receipt of alcohol, regardless of whether a vehicle was involved will face a loss of driving privileges, in addition to any fine imposed. Court supervision for any of these offenses will result in a three month suspension of driving privileges; a first conviction results in a six month suspension of driving privileges; a second conviction results in a 12 month suspension of driving privileges and a third or subsequent conviction will result in a revocation of driving privileges. 

Street Racing
Effective January 1, 2008. Driving privileges will be revoked for any person convicted of street racing, and law enforcement may impound the vehicle for up to five days.

Nighttime Driving Restrictions
Nighttime driving restrictions are not be confused with the current Illinois State curfew law. New teenage drivers participating in the Illinois Graduated Drivers Licensing Program are prohibited from driving during the following days and times:
  • Sunday - Thursday 10 p.m. - 6 a.m.
  • Friday and Saturday 11 p.m. - 6 a.m.
This applies to Phase 1 and Phase 2 only. The Illinois State curfew law (local laws may differ) prohibits persons age 16 and younger from being in a public place during the following days and times: 
  • Sunday through Thursday 11 p.m. - 6 a.m.
  • Friday and Saturday 12 a.m. - 6 a.m.
However the State of Illinois does have certain exclusions that apply to both and they are:
  • The minor must be accompanied by parent/legal guardian
  • On an errand at the direction of a parent/legal guardian without any detour or stop
  • In a motor vehicle involved in interstate travel
  • Going to or returning home from job without any detour or stop
  • Involved in an emergency
  • Going to or returning home from religious, school, or other recreational activity supervised by adults without detour or stop
For more information on Illinois Graduated Driver Licensing Program, please visit Cyberdrive Illinois.