Illinois - IL CDL License Guide, Exam Prep, and Requirements

Illinois - IL CDL Overview

A Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is a driver's license required by Illinois to operate any type of vehicle which

  • has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lb or more for business use
  • transports quantities of hazardous materials that require warning placards under Department of Transportation rules
  • is designed to transport sixteen or more passengers, including the driver. This includes (but is not restricted to) tow trucks, tractor trailers, and buses.

The CDL is ruled by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986. The CDL laws are designed to insure highway safety by requiring that truck drivers and drivers of tractor trailers and buses meet minimum standards.  The Act also permits the elimination of drivers that are deemed unsafe or unqualified. States such as Illinois are given the authority to issue Commercial Driver’s Licenses, but the minimal federal government requirements have to be met.

Prepare for your IL CDL examinations with our free Illinois CDL practice tests

Illinois CDL License Groups - IL CDL Classes

Commercial Driver’s Licenses are issued by Illinois in accordance with the CDL License classes specified below.
Group A (Combination Vehicle) CDL License

Any vehicle or combination of vehicles that has a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.  If you happen to have a Group A CDL license, you are allowed to drive any vehicle or combination of vehicles of any size.

Group B (Heavy Straight Vehicle) CDL License

Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle less than 10,000 pounds GVWR. With a Group B CDL license, you might be allowed to drive any single vehicle regardless of weight. As well as, you're allowed to tow a trailer if the trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is lower than 10,000 pounds. If the trailer you might be towing has a GVWR of greater than 10,000 pounds, and the mixed vehicle weight rating is more than 26,000 pounds, you will need a Class A CDL.

Group C (Small Vehicle) CDL License 

A Class C CDL license is meant to cover any single vehicle, or mixture of vehicles, that doesn’t meet the Group A or Group B definitions, but that either is designed to move 16 or more passengers (including the driver), or is meant to transport Hazardous Materials (HazMat).

With a Group C CDL license, you may drive any vehicle designed to move sixteen or extra passengers, including the driver, if the GVWR is less than 26,001 pounds and you have a passenger endorsement. In addition, a Class C CDL also lets you operate any vehicle used to move hazardous supplies if the GVWR is lower than 26,001 pounds and you have the right endorsement.

Illinois CDL Test Overview

Exams for the IL CDL License include both skills exams and knowledge exams.

The CDL Knowledge Examinations consist of a general examination, one or more endorsement exams, and an air brakes test.  The tests that you will take depend upon the license classification that you're acquiring (Class A, B, or C) and the kind of vehicle that you will be driving (e.g., Tanker, Double/Triple, Passenger Bus).

Please consult with our free Illinois CDL practice exams that can help you prepare for your IL CDL tests.

General Test Overview

Drivers of each CDL class need to pass a General Knowledge examination which contains questions concerning driving safety, vehicle inspection, street signs, traffic laws and other information it's good to discover to drive a commercial vehicle in Illinois.

Endorsement Examination Overview

Along with the general knowledge examination, you need to also take and pass various endorsement examinations depending on the kind of vehicle that you may be operating.  The endorsement tests are described below.

  • Tankers endorsement - to drive a commercial tank vehicle (over 26,000 pounds) designed to move any liquid or gaseous materials within a tank that's permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or chassis. Transportable tanks having a rated capacity under 1,000 gallons are not required to have this endorsement.
  • Double and triple trailer endorsement - to pull double and triple trailers.
  • Passenger endorsement - to drive any vehicle, besides a school bus, designed to hold sixteen or more persons, together with the driver.
  • School bus endorsement - required to drive school buses designed to carry 16 or extra persons, including the driver that's transport students to or from school and authorized school activities. Moreover, a driver must receive a passenger endorsement before obtaining a school bus endorsement.
  • Hazardous materials endorsement - to drive any vehicle carrying hazardous materials.  Hazmat supplies are recognized by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services and require a Hazmat placard.

Air Brakes Test

In the event you plan on driving any commercial vehicle that has air brakes, it's necessary to take and pass the air brakes test to take away the air brakes restriction from your CDL.  The air brakes examination is totally different than the endorsement exams because the air brakes exam works as a restriction instead of an endorsement.  If you do not pass the air brakes examination, your CDL will bear a mark of restriction which means that you're not licensed to drive a commercial vehicle with air brakes.

Illinois CDL License Requirements and IL CDL General Qualifications

Based on federal laws, a CDL operator is qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle in Illinois if they:

  • Are at the very least 21 years old.
  • Can read and speak English sufficient to talk with the general public, to understand highway traffic signals and indicators, to respond to official inquiries, and to make reports and records.
  • Are physically certified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Have a currently legitimate commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued by just one state.
  • Have administered their employer a list of violations or the certificate as required
  • Aren't disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle
  • Have successfully passed a driver’s road test and associated knowledge exams and have been issued a commercial driver’s license by the state of Illinois

More detailed Illinois CDL Requirements can be discovered within the IL handbook link found in the section below.

Illinois CDL Handbook and Resources

Illinois CDL Handbook/Study Guide - offers IL CDL requirements and application information

Illinois CDL Agency - Illinois Driver Services CDL

213 State Capitol
Springfield, IL 62756

Call toll-free within Illinois: 1-800 252-8980
The options are as follows:
Press 1 - Instructions for completing tax forms or other tax related questions.
Press 2 - Mandatory Insurance
Press 3 - Driver's license or driving privileges*
Press 4 - Special license plates
Press 5 - Person with disabilities certification for plates or parking placard
Press 6 - Title, vehicle registration or emissions compliance
Press 0 - Speak to an operator
Press 8 - Repeat the options
* Drivers Services hours: Mon.-thru Fri., 8 a.m.– 4:00 p.m. Automated features are available 24 hours a day.

This information applies to the entire state of XSTATEX as well as the cities of: Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville.