Driving in Illinois

Driver's License Required

You must have a valid Driver’s License or Learner’s Permit to drive in Illinois.

Learner's Permit

If you are 17 years and 3 months, 18, 19, or 20, you may apply for a learner’s permit without taking a driver education course.

A Learner’s Permit requires another licensed driver with a license to operate the class vehicle, who is over 21 years old, with at least one year of driving experience and seated next to the driver, for the learning permit holder to drive. You cannot legally drive alone with a Learner’s Permit.

Driver's License

If you are 18, 19 or 20 years old and You are applying for an Illinois driver’s license for the first time or you have not completed a driver education course you MUST take an approved Adult Driver Education Course to obtain an Illinois driver’s license.

If you are a permanent resident of Illinois, you must obtain an Illinois license. Many students can claim temporary residency.

International Students

You can drive on a foreign driver’s license if you are a University of Illinois student. The license must be valid and you must have it with you when driving. This is legal in Illinois and may not apply in other US States.

Insurance Required

In Illinois, if you are driving a vehicle, you and the vehicle must be covered by insurance.

If you are driving another person’s vehicle, make sure the vehicle is covered by insurance AND that the current insurance card is in the vehicle.

This insurance will likely also cover you while driving the car. You can consult our brochure, “Auto Insurance for You”, in our office or on our website for more information on insurance requirements.

Traffic Tickets

There are numerous laws in Illinois regarding driving a car and the violations range in severity. These are located in the Illinois Vehicle Code mainly under Chapter 11 Rules of the Road.

If you have been issued a traffic ticket, consult a lawyer about it even if you believe you committed the offense and would like to pay the ticket quickly. Such action can cause problems if you are issued other traffic tickets in the future.

A lawyer can advise or represent you in the matter and possibly avoid the conviction. Schedule an appointment on our website to meet with one of the SLS attorneys.

Sometimes, the website for the court system or the information the officer gives you with the ticket may explain one way to avoid a conviction – this may not be the only way. If that information does not fit your circumstances, fill out an intake and consult a Student Legal Service attorney to see if there are other options.

Parking tickets are not traffic tickets. They cannot impact your license unless fail to pay them.

Speeding Tickets

It is illegal to drive at any speed over the set limit. Police can charge you for driving only a few miles over the limit. Keeping up with other traffic is not a defense to the ticket.

In Illinois, going 26-34 mph over the speed limit is a Class B Misdemeanor, 35+ mph over is a Class A Misdemeanor. You must appear in court for these in the county where the ticket was issued.

Any ticket for 26 mph or more over the limit is likely to result in fines in excess of $500.00 plus court costs.

Your license may be suspended or revoked for a Class A or Class B speeding ticket. If convicted, this will appear on your criminal background check.

Driver's License Suspension and Revocation

The Court System must report supervisions and convictions for most traffic tickets to the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The DMV may impose sanctions, such as the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, depending on the type of ticket and the number of tickets received.

If you receive a ticket and have a license from another country, Illinois will create an Illinois Driver’s License number to track your convictions and deferred judgments so the DMV might still take action prohibiting you from driving.

If you receive a ticket out of state or if you have an out of state license, that traffic ticket information is shared by ALL the states. The state in which you are licensed will get the information and could cause a suspension or revocation based on their standards.

There are about 50 different types of violations that will result in the suspension or revocation of your Illinois driver’s license. Two common ways a student’s license is suspended are:

  1. if you are under 21 and have two traffic convictions reported to the DMV in 24 months; and
  2. if you are 21 or older and have three traffic convictions in 12 months.

A third common way to be suspended for a year is to be asked for an ID in a bar, club or other location serving alcohol while you are under 21. In a bar check, the police officer will confiscate your driver’s license. If you are in possession of someone else’s ID or a fake ID, whether you used it to get into the bar or not, it will also be confiscated.

The officer will fill out an affidavit and send your license to the DMV without going through a court process and possibly without giving you a ticket. Based on this information the DMV can suspend your driver’s license. An administrative hearing would have to be requested to dispute the affidavit.

Reinstating Your License

Once driving privileges have been suspended, you must pay to reinstate your license at the end of the suspension period, your license is NOT automatically reinstated.

Once driving privileges have been revoked, you must apply to have driving privileges reinstated. You do not automatically regain your driving privileges at the end of a period of revocation.

To apply to get your driving privileges back:

  1. Set up an appointment with a Hearing Officer for an Informal Hearing.

    In Champaign, the phone number to the DMV is 217-278-3344. The office is located at 2012 Round Barn Road, Space 1.

  2. If reinstatement is granted, you will have to pay a fee of $500.00, and show proof of SR22 insurance.
  3. You then have to wait for the Authorization form to come in the mail to reinstate your license. You will be required to take a written or driving exam, or both.

If your suspension/revocation was due to a DUI conviction, there are further requirements. Please refer to our “DUI” brochure in our office or on our website.

Important Contact Info

This pamphlet does not constitute legal advice. Students who are confronted with legal problems or who need specific advice are encouraged to seek assistance from a licensed attorney at Student Legal Services.


Brochure Download

The information on this page is also available to download in brochure form.