Illinois Teenage Driving Laws: What Teens and Parents Need to Know

To keep teen drivers safe, Illinois implements rules and restrictions for each phase of its Graduated Driver Licensing program.
Written by Shannon Fitzgerald
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Because teenage drivers are at higher risk of accidents on the road,
implements certain laws and restrictions to keep them safe. Namely, drivers under age 18 cannot drive at night and teen drivers with a permit must be accompanied at all times by a fully licensed driver who’s over 21 years old. 
These are just a few of the teen driving laws Illinois’ Secretary of State enforces, however. Before you or your teen driver hits the road, it’s important to get familiar with all of the rules and restrictions laid out in Illinois’ Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. 
From the permit phase to the initial licensing phase, let’s take a look at teenage driving laws you’ll need to follow, plus some tips on how to find young driver car insurance.
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Rules for teen drivers in Illinois

Like most states, Illinois uses a Graduated Driver License program to help teen drivers gain and master successful driving skills in phases: a permit phase, an initial licensing phase, and a full licensing phase. During each phase, teens must fulfill certain driver knowledge and experience requirements and abide by certain driving restrictions. 
The GDL imposes these restrictions on teen drivers in response to some staggering statistics. Not only are car crashes the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds, but licensed 16-year-olds are three to five times more likely to die in an accident than older drivers. Thanks to evolving laws and restrictions in
Illinois’ GDL program
, however, statewide teen driving fatality rates have dropped by over 50%. 
To ensure that you and your teen driver are complying with these life-saving Illinois teen driving laws, let’s take a look at what rules you must follow in each phase of the GDL program.

In the learner’s permit phase

At age 15, drivers in Illinois can apply for an instructional permit at the
nearest Driver Services location
. They will need to present a parent or legal guardian’s signed consent and pass a vision test and a written exam on Illinois’ rules of the road.
Drivers under age 17 must also provide proof that they are enrolled in an accepted driver’s ed program. For a more detailed breakdown of getting a learner’s permit in Illinois, check out Jerry’s guide to
Illinois’ driving age
Once an instructional permit is secured, teen drivers will be held to the following rules: 
  • You cannot drive from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday, or from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Friday through Saturday (local curfew times may vary)
  • You cannot acquire ANY driving infractions, underage alcohol convictions, or court supervision during your permit term
  • You may only have one passenger up front (even if you have a pickup with a front bench).
  • ALL passengers must have a seat belt. Note that
    Illinois seat belt laws
    hold the driver at fault for every passenger who violates this law.
  • Any time you operate the vehicle, a fully licensed adult who is over 21 must be present.
Before a teen driver can graduate to an initial license, they must practice driving a minimum of 50 supervised day hours and 10 night hours. Illinois’ Secretary of State's office provides an
official practice chart
with which you can log your hours. Though teen drivers must hold a learner’s permit for a minimum period of nine months before they can get an initial license, the permit is valid for two years

In the initial licensing phase

Once a teen driver in Illinois is 16 and has held a learner’s permit for at least nine months, they are eligible to apply for a restricted driver’s license, also called an initial driver’s license. We’ve gone through
Illinois’ driver’s license requirements
before, but generally, teen drivers need parent/guardian consent, proof of driver’s ed and supervised driving hours, and they’ll need to pass a practical driving test. 
Though there are fewer restrictions in the initial licensing phase than in the permit phase, there are still certain rules teen drivers must follow. Namely, for the first year after receiving an initial license, or until the driver turns 18 (whichever comes first), they must:
  • Follow the same nighttime driving restrictions as the permit phase (local curfew may vary)
  • Follow a limit of just one passenger under 20 years old (unless the underage passenger is the driver’s sibling, stepsibling, child, or stepchild)
Once a teen driver has had their driver’s license for a year or they have turned 18 (whichever comes first), they enter Illinois’ full licensing phase. Though teen drivers in the full licensing phase are held to no age-related restrictions, they are still considered underage passengers until they turn 20. They are also held to teen driver cell phone rules until age 20, which we will discuss next. 
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Illinois teenage drivers and cell phone use

Like most states, Illinois penalizes
texting and driving
as a serious form of
distracted driving
. Whether you’re an adult or teen driver, if you’re holding and using your phone on the road, you will be subject to fines, points on your license, and much higher Illinois car insurance costs from the citation you receive. 
For teen drivers, Illinois takes its texting ban one step further with a total cell phone ban. According to this law, drivers under 19 are prohibited from using any cell phone or wireless device (even a hands-free one!) at any point while driving
This extra step may bring comfort to worried parents—especially since teen drivers are six times more at risk of an accident when dialing a cell phone and 23 times more at risk when texting, according to
teen driving research from the NHTSA
Illinois does make an exception to teenage cell phone use in emergency situations when a phone call to law enforcement, a health care provider, or emergency services is necessary. It’s still advised that teen drivers pull over to make these calls if possible, however. 

Illinois teen driving law penalties and sanctions

Though Illinois holds all teen drivers to the same rules of the road as older drivers, there are also sanctions, or penalties, specific to teen drivers for certain violations:
  • Moving violation conviction before age 18: warning letter sent to the teen driver’s parent or guardian from the Secretary of State. Teen drivers with a permit lose driving privileges with a waiting period of nine months before they can reapply for a license.
  • Moving violation conviction within the first year of licensing: six-month extension of underage passenger limitation rule
  • Two moving violation convictions within the first 24 months of licensing: at least a one-month license suspension, with an additional suspension for each consequent moving violation 
  • Violation of the night driving restriction: possible suspension of driving privileges 
  • Driving without a learner’s permit: driving privileges suspended, and driver will be ineligible for a driver’s license until age 18
  • Purchasing, consuming, or possessing alcohol while underage (regardless of whether a vehicle was involved): license suspension for three months if granted court supervision, six months if first conviction, 12 months if second conviction, or license revocation if third or subsequent conviction
  • Street racing: license revocation and vehicle impoundment for up to five days
Alongside these sanctions, there are also a few special conditions that affect teen drivers:
  • If a permit driver under age 18 has an unresolved traffic citation, they are ineligible for a driver’s license until the citation is resolved.
  • If a driver under age 18 wants to request court supervision for a traffic violation, a parent or legal guardian must be present in court, the driver is required to attend traffic safety school, and they are limited to one court supervision request for a major offense.
  • Parental consent withdrawal: In Illinois, parents or legal guardians for drivers between 16 and 17 may cancel or withdraw consent for their teen’s driving privileges at any time. Once consent is restored or the driver turns 18, they must reapply for a driver’s license completely.
  • License suspension: If a newly licensed teen driver receives a license suspension, they may be required to attend a remedial education course, retake their written and practical driving exams, and pay a $70 license reinstatement fee.
Because teen drivers are statistically more at risk than older drivers, insurers charge them higher premiums than any other age group. As
at-risk drivers
(or high-risk drivers), teens also face a greater increase in car insurance rates than adult drivers with violations—on top of the fines and court fees they may already have to pay. 

How to find affordable car insurance for teenage drivers in Illinois

So how can you cut back on your teen driver’s car insurance costs while still complying with
Illinois’ car insurance laws
? That’s where
comes in! A
licensed insurance broker
, Jerry can instantly lower your teen driver's car insurance rates without sacrificing important coverage. 
Here’s how: Just download the Jerry app (for free!), input some basic info, and we’ll cross-analyze quotes from over 55 leading insurers to find the most affordable premiums available. Busy getting those practice driving hours in? Not to worry—the whole comparison process takes less than a minute, and you won’t get bugged by any of the usual sales calls after! 
To choose a plan, just select it through the app and Jerry’s expert brokers will help handle all the calls and paperwork, or answer any questions about teen car insurance you may have—like
how to add a teen driver to your insurance policy
. There are savings to be found in every age group through Jerry—an average of over $800 per year. 
“Since I’m under 25, I thought paying a lot for insurance was normal.
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