Illinois Rules of the Road for Parents and Teens
When my father was 12 years old, he would drive my grandmother to the grocery store once a week. They lived in rural Southern Illinois, at a time when seeing a youngster behind the wheel was common.
Times have certainly changed. Even just a few years ago (ahem) when I received my driver’s license, there were very few restrictions on young drivers. Now, thanks to Illinois’ relatively new Graduated Driver License (GDL) program, the roads have become safer for young drivers and those who share the roads with them. Here are the rules and regulations parents and teens should know before they take to the road.
Drivers with a Permit Only (minimum age 15 )
To obtain a permit to drive, teens must be 15-years-old and have mom and/or dad’s consent. They must also enroll in a State-approved, driver’s education course, either through their high school or a private program, and pass a vision test and a written exam on the rules of the road.
Newly permitted drivers cannot drive at night, except for ten hours with mom or dad. They must drive with the permit for at least nine months, and practice at least 50 hours with a parent or an adult who is at least 21-years-old (with a valid driver’s license) before they can take their test, even if they turn 16 before that time. Everyone in the car must wear a seat belt (good advice for any driver or passenger!) and the driver cannot use a cell phone. This includes any hands free devices, except for emergencies.
If, after nine months, the teen is not ready for a driver’s license, there’s no rush! The permit is good for two years.
If a permitted driver receives a traffic citation, mom or dad must appear in court to pursue a sentence of court supervision. The teen will also have to attend traffic safety school. If convicted of a moving violation, the State will add nine or more months to the waiting time for a driver’s license. While adults are eligible for a hardship permit (for example, to be able to commute to work), newly permitted drivers are not.
Initial Licensing for Drivers — Age 16-17:
Mom or Dad will have to accompany their teen to the DMV to give their consent to take the road test and certify that the teen has completed the requisite hours of practice.
For the first 12 months of this initial license, or until the driver turns 18, they can only carry one passenger under age 20, unless the passenger is a sibling. Again, the driver cannot use a cell phone, including hands free devices, except for emergencies. The nighttime restrictions will still apply and the teen must maintain a conviction-free driving record for six months prior to turning 18, in order to be eligible for a Full License.
If the driver gets a ticket, mom or dad must come to court also, and the teen will have to attend traffic safety school. Receiving a moving violation conviction within the first year of licensing will mean an extension of the passenger limitation for six additional months.
Full Licensing Phase – Drivers 18-20:
The driving restrictions ordered at age 16 lift when the teen receives full licensing. However, to get there, the young driver must successfully complete the initial licensing phase regardless of their age. Drivers under 19-years-old still cannot use cell phones. After that, they can use hands free devices only.
Finally, what all parents and teens should know:
Even if mom and dad initially give consent for their teen to obtain a license, they can withdraw consent at ANY time, for ANY reason, until the driver turns 18. All it takes is a call to the Secretary of State.
Mom and Dad can always view the driving record of a child under 18.
Any driver under 21 who illegally consumes, possesses, buys, or accepts alcohol (with or without a car being involved) will lose driving privileges in addition to receiving fines. Any young drivers who think street racing or drag racing is fun will also lose their driving privileges.
The bottom line? Young drivers are subject to more driving restrictions than ever before. While they may be challenging, we know through empirical evidence that these restrictions are keeping our kids, and all of us who share the roads with them, safer than ever before.