If you want to drive a commercial motor vehicle in Illinois, you will need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). People who operate commercial vehicles are held to a higher standard because these large vehicles are capable of causing a lot of damage to people and property if they are not handled properly.
Therefore, those who hold an Illinois CDL have to follow strict requirements and certain violations can call for the suspension of their license. Certain actions are illegal, but there are some violations that are specific to commercial motor vehicles in Illinois.
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Illinois Commercial Driver License Requirements
In Illinois, you need to have a CDL if you are operating a vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds, designed to carry over 16 passengers, or transport hazardous materials. Commercial vehicles operated for military, recreational, or emergency purposes are exempt from CDL requirements as are snowplow operators, farmers, and propane delivery drivers under some conditions.
Before taking a driving test, a CDL applicant needs to get a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). For this, you need:
- A valid driver’s license
- Proof of residency
- A written CMV-knowledge test
The CLP can be used to learn how to drive a commercial vehicle under the supervision of a licensed commercial driver. After 14 days of practice, you can take your CDL driving test. You must be at least 18 years old to be eligible to drive within the state and 21 years old to drive interstate.
Endorsements: A CDL consists of a list of endorsements that authorize the holder to operate different CMVs, like school buses. However, endorsements often include special restrictions and require more testings.
Special Requirements: Each CDL license type has special requirements and testing. For example, a person who wants a hazmat endorsement needs to take a special test that covers how to handle and transport hazardous material safely and requires TSA clearance.
Medical Certificate: A CDL applicant must also submit a medical report to ensure that they are physically fit enough to drive a CMV. All drivers need to hold a valid certificate of health from a medical examiner.
Driving History Check: CDL applicants also need to submit a driving history report before they appear for their test. Once they receive their license, they still need to report their traffic violations and license suspension to their employer.
Can I Apply for a CLP with a Suspended Personal Driver’s License
According to the Illinois state law, you need a valid Class D license to obtain a CLP, which has a permit of 180 days. You need to have a valid regular driver’s license for the entire duration. Therefore, if your base license is suspended or revoked during this time, CLP will not be issued.
If you are successful in getting your CLP and subsequently, your CDL, if you lose your non-CDL license at any time, your CDL will also be suspended. However, if only your CDL is revoked while you are driving a commercial vehicle, you may still be able to keep your personal driver’s license for limited purposes.
Illinois Commercial Driver License Violations
Using a CDL improperly on violating the requirements and the law can lead to repercussions like license suspension or disqualification.
Serious Traffic Violations
Examples of serious traffic violations are:
- Driving speeding 15 miles or more over the speed limit
- Reckless driving
- Tailing vehicles
- Erratic and improper lane changes
- Texting while driving
- Any traffic violation that results in a fatality
- Operating a CMV without being granted a CDL
- Operating a CMV without having a CDL on hand
- Operating a CMV without the proper endorsements
If you commit serious violations, you may be disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle after your:
- 2nd violation in three years results in a minimum 60-days disqualification
- 3rdviolation in three years results in a minimum 120-days disqualification
If you are driving a non-CMV vehicle and commissioned a traffic violation that results in suspension of your non-CMV driver’s license, then your CDL may also be suspended.
Related: How can a Ticket Affect a CDL?
Out-of-Service Order (OSO)
Illinois law enforcement can issue temporary out-of-service orders to CMV drivers or vehicles that they deem unsafe. For example, driving with alcohol or drugs in your system can result in a temporary OSO for 24 hours. It can also result in a Class A misdemeanor, which can cost between $2,750 and $25,000 each in fines for the driver and the driver’s employer.
The driver will also suffer the following disqualification penalties for Category 1 and Category 2 offenses:
Category 1: Violation of an OSO while transporting hazardous material
- 1st violation: At least 180 days to more than 2 years.
- 2nd violation within 10 years: At least 3 years to more than 5 years.
Category 2: Violation of an OSO while transporting non-hazardous material
- 1st violation: At least 180 days to more than 1 year.
- 2nd violation within 10 years: At least 2 years to more than 5 years.
- 3rdviolation and subsequent violations: At least 3 years to more than 5 years.
Railroad Highway Grade Traffic Violations
The state of Illinois has strict rules when it comes to CMVs crossing railroad tracks. Violations include:
- Not slowing down to check whether the railroad track is clear before crossing
- Not stopping once it become evident that the tracks are not clear
- Not waiting to ensure enough room is available for crossing to prevent stopping on the tracks.
- Failing to obey traffic signs or traffic-controlling device
For the above violations, you may be disqualified under the following terms:
- 1st violation: At least 60 days
- 2nd violations within three years: At least 120 days
- 3rd violation and subsequent violations: At least 1 year
An employer that knowingly orders their employee to violate a railtrack rule may be fined up to $10,000.
Under the Illinois law as well as the federal law, major offenses constitute of:
- Driving with a BAC of 0.04% or under the influence of any drugs, including prescription meds that impair the ability to drive.
- Violating the implied consent law by not agreeing to a breath or blood test.
- Leaving the scene of the accident
- Using a commercial vehicle to commit a felony
- Violating CMV laws that result in a fatality
- Operating a CMV without a valid and active CDL on person
The above offenses can result in the following disqualification penalties:
- 1st violation: 1 year (3 years if transporting hazardous material)
- 2nd violation: Life ban. DUI offenders may be asked for a suspension appeal after 10 years once their state-approved alcohol program has been completed.
Your CDL may be disqualified if you have committed a major violation while driving a CMV or a non-CMV vehicle.
Learn More: What Disqualifies Someone From Getting a CDL?
Can You Contest a CDL Suspension in Illinois?
The Illinois Secretary of State gives you the chance to appeal for reinstating all types of driver’s licenses with an administrative hearing attended by the SOS. The most common cases that the SOS will hear will be DUI cases.
To reinstate your CDL, you must wait until you are eligible to requalify for the license. If you have committed a serious traffic or railway highway grade violation or have been given an OSO, the penalty can range from anywhere from 6 months to over 5 years.
If you have been disqualified for life for a major offense, you may be qualified to get your CDL suspension in Illinois lifted after 10 years once you complete a state-approved alcohol or drug rehabilitation program. Other requirements include completing traffic school and paying all the related fines and reinstatement fees.
Need Help From a Traffic Lawyer for a CDL Suspension?
Losing a CDL can affect you in worse ways than losing your personal driver’s license. If you have a career that involves operating a CMV, disqualification can mean the inability to work, a loss of finances for you and your family, and even increased insurance rates.
If you are charged with any of the above violations, you need a qualified traffic lawyer in Illinois that can help you. At Illinois Traffic Lawyers, we can fight to keep you on the road and to get you the most favorable outcome. Call us today at (773) 888-0365 to schedule a free consultation with us.