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A Quintessential Rite of Passage…Your Teenager’s Visit to the DMV (Part I)

My youngest who has recently received his Driver's License!
My youngest, who recently received his Driver’s License, going for a cruise…

Driver Education

In Illinois, most people under age 18 learn to drive in high school or at a commercial driver training school licensed by the Secretary of State’s office. Commercial driver training schools in the Chicagoland area include Top Driver, Michael’s Driving School and Auto Metro Driving School.  Approved driver education classes include at least 30 hours of classroom study and six hours of behind-the-wheel training in a regular passenger vehicle.

Current estimated costs, including classroom and behind-the-wheel training are as follows:

Licensed Training School Estimated Current Cost
High School Licensed Course $245
Commercial Driver Training School (Top Driver) $445

Obtaining an Instruction Permit

If your teen is age 15-17, he/she may receive their instruction permit if they are enrolled in an approved driver education class or will start attending an approved driver education class within the next 30 days. The instruction permit is valid for 24 months and must be held for at least nine consecutive months prior to obtaining a driver’s license if you are age 16 or older. When you applying for instruction permit your teen must pass the vision and written exams for the license classification for which they are seeking.

The instruction permit allows your teen to drive during the behind-the wheel portion of the driver education class with an adult instructor occupying the passenger’s seat. It also allows you to drive with a parent, legal guardian or responsible adult age 21 or older with a valid license for the type of vehicle you are driving and at least one year of driving experience.

Illinois law requires that you have at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including

10 hours of nighttime driving, in addition to your driver education training, before you are eligible to obtain a driver’s license at age 16. Here is a copy of the driving log provided by the Secretary of State to assist your teen in tracking his/her hours: Driving Log

Upon successful completion of the classroom and behind-the-wheel portions of driver education, the Secretary of State’s office will receive notification and add a notation to your teen’s drivers license record. A student under age 18 who drops out of high school cannot have the notation indicating completion placed on his/her driver’s license record unless the teen meets certain additional requirements…one compelling reason for your teen to STAY IN SCHOOL!!! 

The cost to obtain an Instruction Permit in Illinois is currently $20.

Graduated Driver Licensing Program

Illinois’ Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program requires drivers ages 15-20 to work their way toward full driving privileges. There are three progressive stages beginning at age 15 when a young driver obtains his/her learner’s permit. Young drivers must earn the right to move from one phase to the next based on their driving behavior.

Each phase of the GDL process sets forth specific guidelines for teen drivers. For more information about the GDL program, please refer to the Illinois Graduated Driver Licensing Program brochure at www.cyberdriveillinois.com. The guidelines below were taken from the GDL brochure…

Permit Phase — Drivers Age 15

The following rules must be adheared to during the Permit Phase:

• Nighttime driving restrictions — Sun.-Thurs., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (local curfews may differ).

• Permit must be held for a minimum of nine months.

• Must practice driving a minimum of 50 hours, including 10 hours at night, supervised by a parent or adult age 21 or older with a valid driver’s license.

• Must not acquire any driving or underage alcohol convictions or court supervisions during the nine-month permit phase.

• Number of passengers limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.

• All occupants must wear safety belts.

• Any wireless/cellphone use while driving, including a hands-free device, is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency to contact a law enforcement agency, health-care provider or emergency services agency.

• Texting while driving is prohibited.

• Permit is valid for up to two years.

Initial Licensing Phase — Drivers Ages 16-17

• Nighttime driving restrictions — Sun.-Thurs., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (local curfews may differ).

• A traffic conviction during the Initial Licensing Phase may extend restrictions beyond age 18.

• All occupants must wear safety belts.

• For the first 12 months of licensing, or until the driver turns 18, whichever occurs first, the number of passengers is limited to one person under age 20, unless the passenger(s) is a sibling, stepsibling, child or stepchild of the driver. After this period, the number of passengers is limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.

• Any wireless/cellphone use while driving, including a hands-free device, is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency to contact a law enforcement agency, health-care provider or emergency services agency.

• Texting while driving is prohibited.

 Full Licensing Phase — Drivers Ages 18-20

• No age-related restrictions apply except in cases where a driver fails to move fromthe Initial Licensing Phase to the Full Licensing Phase.

• Any wireless/cellphone use while driving, including a hands-free device, is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency to contact a law enforcement agency, health-care provider or emergency services agency.

• Texting while driving is prohibited.

Parental Responsibility

It’s important to understand YOUR responsibilities

Parental Consent — Drivers ages 16-17 must have the written consent of a parent/legal guardian to obtain a driver’s license. The parent/legal guardian who gave initial consent may cancel the minor’s license at any time, for any reason, until the driver turns 18 by contacting the Secretary of State’s office. Driving privileges will not be reinstated until the parent/legal guardian who withdrew consent, once again provides consent or until the driver turns 18, whichever occurs first. The teen driver must reapply for a driver’s license, take all applicable exams and pay the appropriate fees.

Parent-Teen Driving Guide — In partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois High School and College Driver Education Association, and the Illinois Parent Teacher Association, the Secretary of State’s office developed a Parent-Teen Driving Guide to assist parents in teaching their teen drivers the skills they need to know before they start driving on their own. The guide is available at www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

Parent-Teen Driving Contract — The Secretary of State’s office provides a voluntary Parent-Teen Driving Contract that establishes parameters and boundaries between parents and teens to enable young drivers to acquire safe driving habits and skills. This contract is an effective tool for both you and your teen age child to utilize.  We reviewed the contract with our son Will. Both Will and I signed the contract and agreed to adhere to its provisions.  Here is a copy of the contract: Parent-Teen Driving Contract

. Gunst Rules- In addition to the Parent-Teen Driving Contract, we as a family have established our own “in house” rules.  I would like to say that I came up with the idea but the fact of the matter is that my brother in law drafted the first set of Gunst Rules for his son in 1993.  Not surprisingly, most of the rules still apply and we have added some of our ownHere is a copy of the Gunst Rules: Gunst Safe Driver Rules

Parental Access to Teen’s Driving Record — The parent/legal guardian of a person under age 18 who holds an instruction permit or graduated driver’s license may access the minor’s driving record at no cost at www.cyberdriveillinois.com, using the PIN provided by the Secretary of State’s office.

Applying for Your Driver’s License

Driver’s licenses for persons under age 21 are printed vertically with distinct features.

To apply for your driver’s license before age 18, you must bring the following documents to the Driver Services facility:

• Instruction permit;

• Acceptable forms of identification;

• Affidavit/Consent For Minor To Drive and

• Cooperative Driver Testing Certificate (if applicable).

• 50-hour driving log with proper signature.

The Secretary of State must have received notification of your driver education completion and the notation must appear on your driving record before a driver’s license is issued.

Under 21??? Know the Consequences for Certain Violations

Once your teen has been granted the privilege to drive a motorized vehicle it is imperative they practice safe driving.  Certain punitive measures have been established to encourage safe and responsible drivers. Listed are 4 specific consequences for 4 serious violations. Please impress upon your children the severity of these violations!

Supervision for Moving Violations — a driver under age 21 is limited to one court supervision for serious traffic offenses. To obtain court supervision for a traffic violation, a driver under age 21 must attend traffic safety school. A driver under age 18 must appear in court with a parent/legal guardian and also must attend traffic safety school. If receiving court supervision for certain alcohol-related violations, a driver under age 18 will be denied a full graduated driver’s license for nine months.

Loss of Driving Privileges for Moving Violations — A driver under age 21 convicted of two or more moving violations within a 24-month period will have his/her driver’s license suspended for a minimum of 30 days. The length of the suspension varies according to the seriousness of the traffic offenses. A driver may be required to complete a driver remedial education course as part of reinstatement of driving privileges. A suspended driver may be, but is not always, eligible for a Restricted Driving Permit during the suspension period.

Driver’s License Suspension for Alcohol Consumption — A person under age 21 who receives court supervision for possession, consumption, purchase or receipt of alcohol will receive a three-month driver’s license suspension. A conviction will result in a minimum six-month suspension of driving privileges.

Crash Involving Bodily Harm or Death — A person under age 18 charged with an offense due to a crash where a passenger was seriously injured or killed may be denied issuance/renewal of his/her driver’s license. Alcohol need not play a factor in the crash.

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