Illinois Drivers License: Everything You Need to Know

January 27, 2012

Illinois drivers license renewal can be accomplished via a few methods. There are restrictions though, and certain methods are only open to certain people. Basic Illinois drivers license renewal cost $30 in 2010 regardless of these restrictions (but some discounts apply based on age).

When Does Your Illinois Drivers License Need Renewal?
Your Illinois drivers license should expire on your birthday—unless you were under 21 when you got it, in which case it expires three months after your 21st birthday. If you have kept the state updated on your current address (it is required by law to change your address on file with the state) you should get a letter in the mail 60 to 90 days before your license expires. It's not a bad idea to check your drivers license a month or so before your birthday to make certain it doesn't expire in the current year. The letter you receive will tell you what types of Illinois drivers license tests (if any) you need to take to renew your license.

Safe Driver Renewal
If you get a "safe driver renewal," you have some additional options open to you for renewing your drivers license. In order to receive this type of notice you need to go four years without a ticket. You can renew your license online at the secretary of state's website--with a few restrictions. You won't be eligible if you don't have your letter because there is an authorization number you need to renew your license. If your current address does not match the address on the renewal form, you have to go into an Illinois drivers license facility to renew your license. You also need a valid checking account or credit card to pay for your renewal. There is a processing fee (in addition to your drivers license renewal fee) of $1.75 to participate in the safe driver renewal program.

Renewing at an Illinois Drivers License Facility
For those who don't qualify for the safe driver renewal program, a visit to Illinois drivers license facility is necessary. There, you will be required to take a vision test. You also need four forms of identification. If your letter says you need to take any other Illinois drivers license tests, those will also be required. A written test is required every eight years unless you don't have any traffic convictions. If you have an accident on your record you might also need to take a road test. If for some reason you won't be able to renew your drivers license during the period just before it expires, you can renew early. For two or four year licenses you can do this up to a year in advance at any Illinois drivers license facility.

How to Get an Illinois Drivers License

First time Illinois drivers license applicants must apply in person at an Illinois Drivers license facility. If you are moving to Illinois and are licensed in another state or country, you are allowed to use that license for 90 days, but need to get your Illinois drivers license during that period of time. There are some Illinois drivers license requirements you need to meet.

Proper Identification
In order to get an Illinois drivers license for the first time, you need to bring four forms of identification. The first type must show a written signature and can include a canceled check, credit card or several other types of identification. The second form must show proof of your date of birth. This can include a birth certificate, adoption records or official school transcript--among others. Next they require a form of identification that shows your social security number. This can include a social security card, military identification card or some other documents. Finally, they require proof of residency. For this one, a utility bill in your name, lease agreement or vehicle registration are some of the forms of identification they will accept.

Vision Screening
You need to pass a vision screening. This is used to determine your ability to see the road and read signs. You can use corrective lenses when you take this test, but you will have a restriction on your license requiring you to wear them when driving. The one exception to this test is if you provide a Vision Specialist Report filled out by a licensed optometrist.

Written Examination
The second Illinois drivers license test you'll need to pass before you can get your license is a written examination. This tests your knowledge and understanding of the rules of the road in Illinois. You can obtain a copy of the Rules of the Road book ahead of time to study.

Driving Test
Some (but not all) first time Illinois drivers license applicants will be required to pass a driving test. This is another case where reviewing the Rules of the Road book will help. If you need to take a driving test you will need a car with you to use. You will be required to prove the car is insured and properly registered before you can use it.

A basic Illinois drivers license fee is $30. With some exceptions, (based on age) the license is for four years and will expire on your birthday.