Illinois CDL Requirements
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) requirements in Illinois are designed to ensure that drivers have the skills and knowledge required to operate a commercial vehicle, be that vehicle a school bus, a charter bus, a tank vehicle, or a truck-tractor semi-trailer combination (semi-truck).
If a commercial driver lacks these commercial driving skills—or isn’t licensed at all—his or her lack of knowledge could have potentially fatal consequences. If you or a loved one has been affected by a truck accident and are unsure if the driver of that truck was licensed, you may be able to file a claim. For a free consultation, contact one of our experienced Chicago truck accident lawyers at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today.
Requirements to Obtain a CDL in Illinois
To obtain a CDL in Illinois, applicants must meet a number of requirements:
- Must be 18 years of age or 21 years of age, if engaged in interstate commerce or the transporting of passengers
- Must provide “proof of legal presence,” which, for U.S. citizens, includes a U.S. Passport or certified Birth Certificate
- Must certify medical driving status or supply an acceptable medical certificate
- Must pass a General Knowledge written test
- Must pass a Combination Knowledge written test
- Must pass an Air Brake Knowledge written test
- Must pass separate Endorsement Knowledge written test for each endorsement being sought
- Must pass a CDL skills/driving test, based on the desired vehicle class, restrictions, and endorsements
- Must pay a CDL fee
- Must pay an additional fee for each endorsement being sought
What are Endorsements?
Endorsements allow a driver to operate certain types of commercial vehicles. These require extra testing, both written and driving. There are a few types of endorsements in Illinois:
- Passenger Endorsement — Required to drive a passenger vehicle of 16 people or more, driver included
- Charter Bus Endorsement — Required to drive a charter bus, or a charter-type bus, for school activities
- Double/Triple Trailer Endorsement — Required to drive double or triple trailers. Note: triple trailers are not allowed on Illinois highways
- Hazardous Materials Endorsement — Required to drive any vehicle transporting hazardous materials
- School Bus Endorsement — Required to drive a yellow school bus transporting students of grades 12 and under. Note: drivers applying for an S endorsement must also have or be obtaining a P endorsement at the same time
- Tank Endorsement — Required to drive a vehicle carrying liquid or gaseous material within a tank
- Combined Tank and Hazardous Materials Endorsement — Must meet requirements of N and H endorsements, as outlined above
If a driver is operating a vehicle in any of the above categories without proper endorsement, he or she is breaking the law and potentially putting other drivers at risk through his or her negligence. It is imperative that drivers acquire an endorsement before operating any of the above vehicles.
Drivers Who Need to Obtain a CDL
Drivers must obtain a CDL if they are operating a vehicle that meets any of the following conditions:
- Any vehicle with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more
- Note: this can include a combination of vehicles. E.g. a tow truck and the vehicle it’s towing that, combined, weigh 26,001 pounds or more, would require a CDL-equipped driver to operate it, provided that the vehicle being towed is over 10,000 pounds
- Any vehicle designed to transport 16 people or more, driver included
- Any vehicle requiring, by federal regulation, to be covered with placards while transporting hazardous materials
Drivers Who Don’t Need to Obtain a CDL
In certain circumstances, a driver is not required to obtain a CDL. These include operators of:
- Farm equipment — May be driven by farmers, aged 21 years or older, and their immediate family members; equipment must be used in farm-to-market operations
- Emergency equipment — may be driven by emergency organization operators provided it is equipped with audible and visual signals
- Recreational vehicles — may be driven by families for personal conveyance and recreation, e.g. motor homes, recreational vehicles
- Military vehicles — may be driven by active members of the military, members of the Reserves or National Guard; must be driven for military purposes
- Township employees — for emergency snow and ice removal in townships of fewer than 3,000 people, when a CDL-classified employee is not available or is in need of assistance
Why Might a Driver Lose Their CDL?
A driver can have their CDL suspended or disqualified for a myriad of reasons. Some of those reasons may include:
- Falsifying or failing to keep records of hours worked
- Alcohol or controlled substance violations
- Speeding or reckless driving
- Driving without proper endorsements for the cargo being transported
What Happens When a Driver Doesn’t Have a CDL?
It is a very serious offense for a driver to continue performing their duties without a CDL. If an accident occurs in this scenario, we may pursue a claim or lawsuit against the company.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations prohibit a trucking company from requiring or allowing a driver to operate a commercial vehicle without their CDL. Should a collision occur in this instance, we may pursue a negligence claim against the trucking company.
How The Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers with Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Can Help
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident or have reason to believe that a truck driver that caused you or a loved one injury may not have received his or her CDL or other appropriate endorsement, contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today. We’ll get to the bottom of your case to determine if negligence on the part of a driver or trucking company played any role in your accident.
For a free consultation, contact one of our experienced Chicago truck accident lawyers at (312) 236-2900.