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Illinois Graduated Driver License Effective January 1, 2008  

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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 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.
  • 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 Web site. 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. Parental Access to Teen Driving Records

Driver's License Suspension for Alcohol Consumption - Effective January 1, 2008. A person under age 21 will receive a three-month driver's license suspension for any court supervision for possession, consumption, purchase or receipt of alcohol.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have Graduated Driver Licensing programs been effective in other states, and is it necessary in Illinois?
Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 15-20. In 2005, 12.6 percent 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 percent.

Do the new provisions to Illinois' Graduated Driver Licensing Program raise the minimum age at which an individual may obtain a driver's license?
No. Even with the new provisions effective January 1, 2008, age 16 remains the age at which a person who has successfully completed a driver education program may apply for a driver's license. The graduated system establishes additional requirements during the instruction permit phase, with the goal of producing better-skilled 16-year-old drivers.

How many hours of practice driving with my parent/guardian are required prior to obtaining my Illinois driver's license?
The GDL law currently requires 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours of night driving, supervised by a parent, guardian or adult age 21 or older.

If I receive my instruction permit in December 2007, am I required to hold the permit for three months as required under current law or nine months as required under the new law effective January 1, 2008?
A new driver who receives his/her instruction permit prior to January 1, 2008, will fall under current guidelines and be required to hold the permit for three months before obtaining a driver's license. A driver receiving his/her permit on January 1, 2008, or later must hold the permit for a minimum of nine months before a driver's license may be obtained.

Why do Graduated Driver Licensing laws limit the number of passengers in a car driven by a teen?
Passenger restrictions reduce the likelihood of a young, inexperienced driver being distracted by a car full of teens. Current law limits the number of passengers for a new driver to only one passenger for the first six months of his/her driver's license. Effective January 1, 2008, the new law extends the passenger limitation time to a full year, or until the license holder turns 18, whichever occurs first.

If I get my driver's license in December 2007, will the extended passenger limitation rule apply?
Drivers ages 16 and 17 who receive their driver's licenses prior to January 1, 2008, will fall under the current six-month passenger limitation rule. Drivers ages 16 and 17 who receive their licenses January 1, 2008, or later will fall under the new one-year passenger limitation rule.

What happens if a new driver is caught violating the passenger limitation rule?
The driver of the vehicle, as well as all passengers in the vehicle, can be ticketed if the driver is in violation of the passenger restriction rule.

Will the new passenger restriction prevent my 16-year-old from driving his/her brother, sister and cousin to events?
Siblings, step-siblings, children and step-children of 16-year-old drivers are exempt from passenger limitations. Cousins under age 20 are not considered immediate family members and, therefore, are not exempt from passenger limitations.

How will law enforcement determine if a new teen driver falls under the six-month or one-year passenger limitation rule?
Law enforcement officers will look at the original issuance date of the driver's license to determine whether the driver must adhere to the six-month or one-year passenger limitation rule.

What are the new "nighttime driving restrictions" under the new GDL provisions?
Effective January 1, 2008, drivers under age 18 may not operate a motor vehicle between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Won't the earlier driving restriction times on nights and weekends prevent me from getting a job or going to after-school activities?
Exemptions in the law allow new drivers to drive to and from employment or school-sanctioned activities outside the restriction times.

Will I lose my driver's license if I am convicted of violating the nighttime driving restrictions?
Yes. Effective January 1, 2008, your driver's license will be suspended if you are convicted of violating the new driving curfews.

If passengers are not seatbelted in the vehicle while my teenager is driving who can be ticketed?
If the driver is under age 18, he/she can be ticketed for anyone under age 18 who is unrestrained in the vehicle. Any passenger age 16 or 17 unbuckled in the front seat may be ticketed as well. It is at the discretion of the law enforcement officer whether to cite unbuckled passengers age 16 or 17 in the back seat.

If I get a traffic ticket while I have my graduated driver license will I lose my license?
If the ticket is for an alcohol-related offense, the driver will lose his/her license for a minimum of three months.

During the initial and full licensing phases prior to age 21, a driver who receives two moving violation convictions within a 24-month period will lose his/her driver's license for a minimum of 30 days. After the first conviction, the parents/guardians of the driver will receive a warning letter from the Secretary of State informing them of the teenage driver's initial conviction and the possibility of loss of driving privileges for future violations.

Should a driver receive a license suspension for two traffic convictions, he/she is subject to additional driver's license suspensions for each subsequent traffic conviction.

Other than a warning letter from the Secretary of State, what else happens if I get a traffic ticket during the permit phase or initial licensing phase of the graduated driver license program?
Effective January 1, 2008, a driver must remain free of traffic convictions during the entire nine-month permit phase. If the driver is convicted of a traffic offense during this time, he/she will not move to the initial licensing phase until he/she is free of traffic convictions for a full nine months or until age 18, whichever occurs first. If the conviction is received by the Secretary of State's office after the driver has moved to the initial licensing phase, the driver will be remanded back to the permit phase. A letter will be sent to the driver and the parents indicating the change in driving status.

Drivers in the initial licensing phase (usually drivers ages 16 and 17), must remain conviction free for the final six months before moving to the next phase. If a new driver receives a conviction during this six-month period, he/she will not be able to move to the next phase of the program until he/she is conviction-free for a full six months or until age 21, whichever occurs first.

My driving privileges have been suspended or revoked and I am under age 18. Am I eligible for a driving permit?
A driver under age 18 who has a suspended or revoked driver's license in Illinois may be eligible for a Restricted Driving Permit, depending on the circumstances of the suspension or revocation. For more information, contact the Secretary of State Administrative Hearings Department at (217) 782-7065.

What happens if a new driver is caught violating the new street racing offense?
The driver, regardless of age, will have his/her driver's license revoked for a minimum of 12 months due to the seriousness of the offense.

I would like to withdraw my consent to drive for my child who is under age 18. What is the proper procedure?
In order to withdraw consent to drive for a driver under age 18, the parent, guardian or other responsible adult who signed the application giving the driver permission to obtain a driver's license must send a notarized letter to the Secretary of State indicating they wish to withdraw consent for the minor to hold an Illinois driver's license.

I previously withdrew my consent to drive for my child who is under age 18 and would like to reinstate his/her driving privileges. What is the proper procedure?
To reinstate a minor's driving privileges after consent to drive has been withdrawn, the parent, guardian or other responsible adult who withdrew consent must send a letter to the Secretary of State indicating that they wish to have the child's driving privileges reinstated in the State of Illinois. The minor driver must visit a Secretary of State Driver Services facility and retake the vision, written and driving exams and pay the appropriate fee in order to be reissued an Illinois driver's license.