Commercial trucks are a vital part of commerce in the United States. They provide a cost-effective and efficient means of transportation of goods between states. However, large trucks pose a significant risk of injury and death in a traffic accident.
As a result, the Illinois Department of Transportation sets strict rules and regulations for truck safety. For example, commercial truck drivers must meet specific standards to operate a semi-truck or other large truck. The Illinois Secretary of State sets forth the requirements to obtain an Illinois CDL (commercial driver’s license) or CLP (commercial learner’s permit).
Types of Commercial Driver’s Licenses in Chicago, IL
There are four types of CDL and non-CDL classifications in Illinois. Driver’s license classifications in Illinois are:
- Class A – a combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of at least 26,001 pounds and the vehicle being towed has a gross vehicle weight of at least 10,000 pounds
- Class B – a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 26,001 pounds and the vehicle being towed has a weight that does not exceed 10,000 pounds
- Class C – single vehicles with a GVWR between 16,001 and 26,000 pounds
- Class D – single vehicle with a GVWR of less than 16,001 pounds
In addition to obtaining your commercial driver’s license, you can apply for one or more endorsements, allowing you to operate certain types of commercial vehicles. CDL endorsements include:
- Passenger Endorsement (P)
- Charter Bus Endorsement (C)
- Double/Triple Trailer Endorsement (T)
- Hazardous Materials Endorsement (H)
- School Bus Endorsement (S)
- Tank Endorsement (T)
- Tank and Hazardous Materials Endorsement (X)
You must meet specific requirements to obtain a CDL endorsement. You must also qualify to operate a commercial truck with full, partial, or no air brakes. The state also imposes automatic transmissions only, tractor-trailer, and other restrictions on CDLs.
Requirements To Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License in Chicago, Illinois
Before you can obtain a CDL in Illinois or transfer a CDL from another state, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old to operate a commercial truck intrastate (within the State of Illinois) and 21 years old to operate a commercial truck interstate (traveling through two or more states)
- Have a valid Illinois driver’s license as a base license that will not expire before the one-year term of a commercial learner’s permit
- Provide Proof of Legal Presence to prove you are a US citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Self-certify medical driving status and provide a medical certificate for an interstate CDL
- Pay all appropriate fees to obtain a CLP or CDL
- Pass written tests, including a core knowledge test, combination knowledge test, air brake knowledge test, and application endorsement knowledge tests
- Complete a CDL skills/drive test
- Pass a TSA security threat assessment if you apply for an H or X endorsement for your CDL
Once you obtain your Illinois CDL, you must renew the CDL every four years before the expiration date. CDL holders must notify the Secretary of State of an address or name change within 30 days to obtain a corrected commercial driver’s license.
What Vehicles Require a Commercial Driver’s License in Illinois?
The following vehicles require the driver to have a commercial driver’s license to operate:
- Combination vehicles that have a GCWR of at least 26,001 pounds when towing a vehicle with a GCWR that exceeds 10,000 pounds
- A single vehicle with a GCWR of at least 26,001 pounds or a vehicle towing another vehicle that does not exceed 10,000 pounds
- A vehicle that is designed to transport 16 or more people, including the driver
- All vehicles that are required under federal law to have a placard when transporting hazardous materials
Some drivers might be exempt from the requirement to have a CDL based on the type of vehicle they operate. Exemptions include drivers operating some farm equipment, emergency equipment, recreation vehicles, and military vehicles.
The above requirements may not include all steps for obtaining a commercial driver’s license in Illinois. You should review the complete instructions and steps for CDLs at the Illinois Secretary of State’s website.
Why Do Illinois and the Federal Government Impose Strict Requirements for Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License?
Commercial truck accidents often cause catastrophic injuries to occupants of other vehicles. Semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and other large trucks are much more complicated to operate than a typical passenger vehicle. Truck drives need specialized training, skills, and experience to operate a commercial truck safely.
Unfortunately, the requirements for CDLs do not prevent truck accidents. In 2021, 5,788 people died in large truck crashes in the United States. That year, 154,993 people were injured in truck accidents.
Truck accidents result in substantial economic and non-economic damages for victims. If you were injured in a commercial truck accident, seek legal advice from a Chicago truck accident lawyer immediately.
The trucking company and its insurance provider have unlimited resources to fight your claim. You need an experienced truck accident lawyer to protect your rights.