Illinois New Resident Guide

Welcome to Illinois! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in Illinois. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements

  • An Illinois driver's license must be applied for within 90 days of establishing residence.
  • Notice of change of address or name must be made within 10 days to the Secretary of State.
  • New residents have 30 days to apply for an Illinois title and registration after establishing residence, provided the vehicle is properly registered in another jurisdiction.

Graduated Licensing Program

Learner's Permit


  • Must be at least 15;
  • Must be enrolled in driver education;
  • Must pass vision and written tests.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May not drive unsupervised between 11 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday. Also between 11 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday, and between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Intermediate License


  • Must be at least age 16.
  • Must have accumulated 50 hours (10 at night) of supervised driving, supervised by a parent or an adult age 21 or older with a valid driver's license, who must be sitting in the front passenger seat and may not be intoxicated.
  • The learner's permit must be held for a minimum of 9 months with no driving convictions before becoming eligible for an intermediate license.
  • Must have completed driver education course.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • For the first year of licensing, or until the driver is age 18, whichever occurs first, the number of passengers is limited to 1 person under age 20, unless the additional passenger(s) is a sibling, step-sibling, child, or step-child of the driver.
  • After this period, the number of passengers is limited to 1 in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
  • The intermediate license must be held for 12 months and may be extended for 6 months if driver receives a moving violation.
  • All occupants under age 19 must wear safety belts.

Unrestricted License


  • Teen drivers are eligible for an unrestricted license at age 18 as long as they have not received any moving violations in the last 6 months and, effective January 1, 2014, have resolved all tickets.
  • First time driver's license applicants aged 18-20 who have not completed driver education must successfully complete a six-hour adult driver education program before obtaining a license

Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.

55 Point Violations

  • Reckless driving
  • Operation of motorcycle on one wheel - reckless driving

50 Point Violations

  • Failure to stop and exchange information or give aid after motor vehicle collision - personal injury involved
  • More than 25 mph above limit
  • 26-29 mph above limit
  • More than 29 mph above limit

25 Point Violations

  • Collision involving damage to vehicles only - failure to stop, exchange information and make report
  • Failure to stop and exchange information after motor vehicle collision - property damage only
  • Illegal transportation, possession, or carrying any alcoholic liquor within the passenger area of any motor vehicle
  • Following too closely
  • Improper left turn with oncoming traffic
  • Passing a school bus receiving or discharging children

20 Point Violations

  • Disregarding official traffic-control device
  • Disregarding traffic-control light
  • Disregarding lane-control signal
  • Disregarding flashing traffic signal
  • 15-25 mph above limit
  • Exceeding the maximum speed limit in a school zone
  • Exceeding speed limit in school/construction zone
  • Exceeding maximum speed limit in construction zone
  • Exceeding maximum speed limit in construction zone
  • Exceeding maximum speed limit on a park zone street
  • Failure to obey stop sign or red light on a park zone street
  • Driving below minimum speed limit on Illinois Tollway
  • Failure to drive on right side of roadway
  • Improper passing upon meeting an approaching vehicle
  • Improper passing on the left
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to vehicle passing on the left
  • Improper passing with a two-wheeled vehicle
  • Improper passing of bicycle or individual
  • Improper passing on the right 11-705 20 Improper passing on the left
  • Driving on the left side of roadway where prohibited
  • Driving on left side of roadway in a no-passing zone
  • Improper traffic lane usage - single lane
  • Improper center lane usage
  • Improper traffic lane usage - traffic light
  • Improper traffic lane usage
  • Passing on shoulder while merging into traffic
  • Improper U-turn
  • Failure to stop or yield right-of-way to pedestrians at intersections or crosswalks with traffic control devices
  • Failure to observe stop or yield right-of-way sign
  • Improper merging into traffic
  • Failure to yield right-of-way upon emerging from private road or driveway
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks without traffic control devices
  • Passing vehicle stopped for pedestrian
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to a pedestrian at an intersection
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian in school zone
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to blind or hearing impaired pedestrian
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian on a sidewalk
  • Improper passing on the right or failure to stop for a street car
  • Driving through safety zone
  • Failure to stop for approaching railroad train or signal
  • Failure to stop before reaching railroad crossing if tracks are not clear
  • Failure to obey a traffic control device or the direction of an enforcement official at the railroad crossing
  • Failure to slow down and check that tracks are clear of approaching train
  • Failure to negotiate a railroad-highway grade crossing because of insufficient undercarriage clearance
  • Failure to stop at railroad grade crossing
  • Disregarding stop or yield sign at an intersection
  • Failure to yield right-of-way upon emerging from alley or driveway
  • Limitations on backing upon controlled access highway
  • Driving upon sidewalk
  • Failure to have sufficient space to drive through railroad crossing without stopping
  • Defective brake

15 Point Violations

  • Failure to notify owner after collision with unattended vehicle or other property
  • 11-14 mph above limit
  • Unsafe movement of vehicle from parked position
  • Failure to give stop or turn signal
  • Improper stop or turn signal
  • Improper arm signal
  • Failure to yield right-of-way at intersection
  • Failure to yield right-of-way at T-intersection
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to emergency vehicle
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to authorized vehicle or pedestrian engaged in work within any highway construction or maintenance area
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to authorized vehicle displaying flashing lights engaged in work upon a highway
  • Failure to stop at highway construction sign
  • Failure to fasten or secure any protruding component of a vehicle
  • Spilling or unsafe load

10 Point Violations

  • Violation of GDL - passenger limitation for drivers under age 18
  • Violation of GDL - child restraint violation for drivers under age 18
  • Violation of GDL - first 6 months after issuance of driver's license on passenger limitation for drivers under age 18
  • Negligent driving (Chicago Traffic Code)
  • Failure to obey lawful order of authorized officer
  • Squealing or screeching tires
  • Speeding too fast for conditions
  • Exceeding maximum speed limit on bridge or elevated structure
  • Passing in a no-passing zone
  • Improper entry or exit from controlled access roadway 11-711(b) 10 Operating an improper vehicle on a controlled access roadway 11-801 10 Improper turn at intersection
  • Failure to exercise due care for pedestrian or bicyclist
  • Improper passing of street car on the left
  • Limitations on backing
  • Illegal operation of farm tractor upon highway
  • Improper position of motorized pedalcycle on roadway
  • Riding motorized pedalcycle more than two abreast on roadway
  • Violation of lamps on motorized pedalcycle
  • Improper left turn on pedalcycle
  • Head, tail or side light violation
  • Under age 19 using cell phone while driving
  • Improper towing of a vehicle
  • Improper pushing of another vehicle

5 Point Violations

  • 1-10 mph above limit
  • Driving below minimum speed limit
  • Driving wrong way on one-way street or highway or around traffic island
  • Obstructing street car traffic
  • Improper movement of heavy equipment across railroad grade crossing
  • Motorcycle operating violation or passenger equipment violation
  • Motorized pedalcycle operating violation
  • Motorcycle glasses, goggles, or shield violation
  • Motorcycle equipment violation
  • No stop lights
  • No turn signal lights
  • No turn signal lights on trailers or semitrailers
  • School bus identification and warning light violation
  • If a driver under age 21 commits 2 or more "point assigned" offenses within any 24 month period, their license may be suspended or revoked.
  • If a driver age 21 or older commits 3 or more "point assigned" offenses within any 12 month period, their license may be suspended or revoked.
  • The action taken (suspension or revocation, and length of either) is determined by the severity "points" of the violations, and the driver's past record.

Insurance Requirements

  • You are in compliance with the mandatory insurance law if you have vehicle liability insurance in the following minimum amounts:
    • $20,000 - injury or death of one person in an accident
    • $40,000 - injury or death of more than one person in an accident
    • $15,000 - damage to property of another person.
  • You must always carry your insurance card in your vehicle and show it upon request by any law enforcement officer.

Headlight Laws

You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or within 300 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you.

You must use your headlights:

  • From sunset to sunrise;
  • When rain, snow, fog or other conditions require the use of windshield wipers;
  • When objects 1,000 feet away cannot be seen.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.

Implied Consent Laws


  • First Refusal - Suspension for 12 months. A judicial driving permit is available after 30 days of the suspension. Also, restricted driving privileges are available.
  • Subsequent Refusals (within 5 years) - Suspension for 3 years.

Injury/Death Related Implied Consent Law

  • Under another separate and independent implied consent law, (625 ILCS 5/11-501.6) if a law enforcement officer has arrested a driver for any moving violation under the vehicle code and the driver has been involved in an accident that has resulted in either an injury or a fatality, the officer may request that the person submit to a chemical test of the blood, breath or urine for the purpose of determining either the alcohol or drug content in such person's blood. If a driver refuses to submit to such a test, his/her driving privileges are suspended as follows:
    • First Refusal - 12 months.
    • Refusal where the driver has had a previous license suspension for DWI offense conviction or refusal/admin. per se action - 3 years.
    • These suspensions, however, are not mandatory in that a driver may request a hearing on the legality of the suspension. If the driver meets his burden of proof, the court can rescind the suspension. Additionally, the Secretary of State may modify the suspension order or issue a restricted license for employment, educational or medical purposes.

DUI Penalties

First offense (Class A misdemeanor)

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment
  • Up to $2,500 fine
  • Up to 1 year license revocation
  • Ignition interlock required once eligible for license

Second offense

  • 5 days - 1 year imprisonment
  • Up to $2,500 fine
  • 1 - 5 years license revocation
  • Ignition interlock required once eligible for license

Third offense (Class 2 felony) (probationable)

  • 3 - 7 years imprisonment
  • Up to $25,000 fine
  • 1 - 10 year license revocation
  • Ignition interlock required once eligible for license

Fourth offense (class 2 felony) (non probationable)

  • 3 - 7 years imprisonment
  • Up to $25,000 fine
  • 1 year - Permanent license revocation
  • Ignition interlock required once eligible for license

Fifth offense (class 2 felony) (non probationable)

  • 4 - 15 years imprisonment
  • Up to $25,000 fine
  • 1 year - Permanent license revocation
  • Ignition interlock required once eligible for license

Sixth or subsequent offense (Class X felony) (non probationable)

  • 6 - 30 years imprisonment
  • Up to $25,000 fine
  • 1 year - Permanent license revocation

BAC .16 or higher

First offense

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment
  • $500 - $2,500 fine

Second offense (Class 2 felony)

  • 2 days - 7 years
  • $1,250 - $25,000 fine

Third offense (Class 2 felony)

  • Mandatory 90 days imprisonment
  • Mandatory $2,500 fine

Fourth or subsequent offense (Class 1, 2, or X felony)

  • Mandatory $5,000 fine
  • No probation or conditional discharge

Child endangerment (transporting child younger than 16) (in addition to any other sanction)

First offense

  • Up to 6 months imprisonment
  • Mandatory additional $1,000
  • 25 days community service

Third or subsequent offense

  • Mandatory $25,000 fine
  • 25 days community service

Open Container Law

The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.

Red Light Violation Fines

  • Traditional enforcement: $500 maximum fine/20 points
  • Auto enforcement: $100 fine or completion of traffic education program, or both; not a moving violation or record offense

Construction Zone Penalties

  • Speeding violations are subject to a $375 enhanced fine for a first offense and a $1,000 enhanced fine for subsequent offenses, whether or not workers are present.
  • Under a separate law, reckless homicide of a construction worker is punishable by 3 to 14 years in prison. Reckless homicide of two or more traffic workers is punishable by 6 to 28 years in prison.

Turn Signal Information

In a business or residential district, signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance. Outside a business or residence district, the signal must be given at least 200 feet in advance.

Hazard Light Information

Hazard light use is permitted for the purpose of warning other drivers of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care.

Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws

  • The law gives funeral processions the right-of-way at intersections when headlights are lit.
  • The lead vehicle must comply with stop signs and traffic lights, but once it has done so, all the following vehicles can proceed without stopping, provided they exercise due caution.
  • The procession must yield to an approaching emergency vehicle or when directed by a police officer.
  • Vehicles not in the procession cannot enter it unless directed by a police officer and other vehicles cannot join the procession and turn on their headlights in order to gain the right-of-way granted to the procession

School Bus Laws


  • Vehicles are required to stop unless traveling from the opposite direction on a road with four or more lanes.


  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a minimum $150 fine and a three-month suspension of your driver's license or vehicle registration.

Bicyclist Passing Distance

A 3-foot minimum passing distance is required.

Motorcycle Laws


  • Licenses will not be issued to any person under the age of 18 as an operator of a motorcycle unless the person has completed a motorcycle training course approved by IDOT and the required Secretary of State's motorcycle driver's examination.
  • A 12-month instruction permit for a motor-driven cycle or motorcycle may be issued to a person 18 years of age or more, which entitles the holder to drive upon the highways during daylight under the direct supervision of a licensed motor-driven cycle operator or motorcycle operator with the same or greater classification, who is 21 years of age or older and who has at least 1 year of driving experience.

Protective Gear

  • Every driver and passenger must be protected by glasses, goggles, or a transparent shield.


  • Daytime use of headlight is required by state law.

Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Motorcycles traveling side-by-side in a single lane is not addressed in state law.

Using the Shoulder to Pass

You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.

Passing Laws

Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve.
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing.
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle.
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn.
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

Speed Limits

  • 65 mph on Illinois toll highways and highways that are divided and have at least 4 lanes;
  • 55 mph on all other highways, roads or streets outside an urban district;
  • 30 mph in an urban district;
  • 15 mph in an urban district alley;
  • Second Division Vehicles
    • Second division vehicles are those designed to carry 10 or more persons, used for living quarters, designed to carry or pull property, freight or cargo, or a registered school bus.
    • The speed limit for these vehicles is 55 MPH in the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will, unless a lower limit is established.
    • Outside these counties, the maximum speed limit is 65 MPH on an interstate highway and 55 MPH on all other highways, roads, and streets.

Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws

Safety Belts

  • Occupants 16 years and older must wear safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.

Child Seats

  • Children 7 years and younger must be in a child seat.
  • Children 8 through 15 years must be restrained, and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Children who weigh no more than 40 pounds must be seated in the rear seat and restrained by a lap belt where only a lap belt is available.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $75.

Emergency Vehicle Laws

Move Over

  • When you see any authorized vehicle using with oscillating, rotating, or flashing red, red and white, blue, or red and blue lights or amber or yellow lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway, you must do the following:
    • If on a highway having at least 4 lanes with not less than 2 lanes proceeding in the same direction as the approaching vehicle, make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle, if possible with due regard to safety and traffic conditions.
    • If changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe, reduce the speed of the vehicle, maintaining a safe speed for road conditions.


  • Do not follow a fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm closer than 500 feet, or stop within 500 feet of a fire apparatus stopped in answer to a fire alarm.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled
  • Notify the nearest police department immediately if the accident has resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,500 or more. If the driver is unable to make the report, any other occupant of the vehicle who is able to must do so.
  • If the accident involved property damage only, you must make every reasonable effort to move the vehicle or have it moved so as not to block the traffic lanes. You must still remain on scene all other requirements are fulfilled.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address;
    • Vehicle owner's name;
    • Vehicle registration number;
    • Show driver's license upon request.
  • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • Unattended Vehicle or Property
    • If you have collided with a vehicle or other property that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the name and address of the driver, the name of the owner, and the registration number of the vehicle. If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information.
    • You must also notify the nearest police department.
  • Report Crash
    • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,500 or more, you must report the accident in writing to the local police department, county sheriff, or state patrol as soon as possible, and no later than 10 days after the accident. If the driver is physically incapable of making this report of the crash, any other occupant of the vehicle who is capable of making a report must do so.
    • If none of the other people involved in the accident are in a condition to receive the information you are required to give them, and no police officer is present, you must report the crash to the nearest police department as soon as you have provided assistance to any injured person.
    • If for any reason you failed to stop or remain at the scene when required, you must report the accident to the nearest police station or sheriff's office within 30 minutes after the accident, or if hospitalized and incapacitated, within 30 minutes of being discharged from the hospital. You must include:
      • Place, date, and time of the accident;
      • Driver's name and address;
      • Registration number of vehicle driven;
      • Names of all other occupants of such vehicle.