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Teen Driving Laws in Illinois

Posted on November 16, 2022

A driver’s license is a teenager’s license to freedom. However, teenage drivers are much more inexperienced, and they tend to make more mistakes than older drivers. Here, we want to discuss various Illinois laws specifically related to teenage drivers. Whether you are a parent or a new driver, you need to know and understand these laws before hitting the roadway to protect yourself, loved ones, and others from injuries and car accidents. Consulting a Chicago auto accident lawyer can provide additional insights and legal advice in case of any unfortunate incidents involving teenage drivers.

The Graduated License Program

There is a graduated driver’s license program in Illinois that allows teen drivers to gain practice before they are fully legal drivers.

  • Teens aged 15. 15-year-olds in Illinois are allowed to get their learner’s permit and begin taking driver’s education classes. Drivers with a permit will typically not be able to operate a vehicle at night and are only allowed to drive with a parent, guardian, or licensed driver who is 21 years of age or older. 15-year-olds must put in 50 hours of driving time, including ten hours at night.
  • Teens aged 16-17. When a parent or guardian certifies that their teenager has completed the 50 hours of driving practice, they are allowed to get their parent or guardian’s permission to obtain a driver’s license. For the entire first year after receiving a license, or until the driver turns 18, the teenage driver can only have one passenger under the age of 20 with them in the car at a time. The driver will still have to adhere to various night-time curfews, but there are exceptions for driving to work or school activities.
  • Teens aged 18-20. Teenagers in this age range can proceed to operate their vehicles as fully licensed drivers.

Teenage Driver Accident Data in Illinois

According to information available from the Illinois Department of Transportation, teenage drivers between the age of 16 and 19 accounted for around 8.4% of all catastrophic vehicle accident injuries during the most recent reporting year on file. Additionally, this age range accounted for approximately 7% of total fatalities that same reporting year. This data shows that the injuries and fatalities were more prominent amongst 18 and 19-year-olds than amongst 16 and 17-year-olds (likely because that age group has more drivers on the roadway).

Cell Phone Usage Behind the Wheel

The state of Illinois penalizes texting and driving whether the driver is an adult or a teenager. If an individual is holding and using their cell phone while operating the vehicle on the roadway, they could be subjected to fines, points against their license, and higher insurance premiums if a citation is issued.

However, in Illinois, there is a total cell phone ban for drivers under the age of 19. Drivers in this age range are prohibited from using any type of cell phone or wireless device at any point while operating the vehicle, even if it is a hands-free device. There is an exception for teenage cell phone use in the vehicle for emergency situations.

Illinois Traffic Violation Penalties

There are specific traffic violation penalties that carry more weight when a teenager messes up.

  • Moving violation before 18 years of age. This will result in a warning letter sent to the teen driver’s parent, and the teen driver with a permit could lose driving privileges and have a waiting period of nine months before they can reapply for their license.
  • Moving violation conviction during the first year of licensing. This will result in a six-month extension for rules concerning underage passenger limitations.
  • Two moving violation convictions within 24 months of licensing. This will result in a one-month license suspension.
  • Violation of night driving restrictions. This could result in a suspension of driving privileges.
  • Driving without a permit. The driving privileges will be suspended, and the driver will be ineligible for a license until they turn 18.
  • Purchasing, consuming, or possessing alcohol under the age of 21. This one result in a license suspension of three months if granted court supervision, a six-month suspension for a first conviction, a 12-month suspension for a second conviction, or complete license revocation for a third or subsequent conviction. These penalties will apply whether or not there was a vehicle involved.

Tips for First-Time Drivers

There is no better feeling than getting out on the roadway for the first time (or the second or third time). However, as the statistics show, young drivers tend to be in a higher percentage of vehicle accidents proportionate to their age range than drivers and other age ranges.

Tips for First-Time Drivers

There are several tips that we want to give parents and guardians of first-time drivers (first-time drivers, we hope you are reading this as well):

  • Familiarize yourself with the rules of the road. Study the driver’s manual and understand traffic laws and regulations. Learn about road signs, signals, and markings to ensure safe navigation.
  • Practice defensive driving. Be aware of your surroundings. Try to anticipate potential hazards on the roadway around you. Maintain a safe following distance from the vehicles in front of you, and use your mirrors frequently to check for blind spots.
  • Always wear your seatbelt. Make it a habit to buckle up before starting the car. Ensure that all passengers are also properly restrained.
  • Limit distractions. Completely avoid using your mobile device or any other electronic device while driving. If you need to call someone or send a message, pull over to a safe location (or just wait until you arrive at your destination). Illinois prohibits the use of handheld phones, texting, and other electronic communication devices when operating a motor vehicle. Hands-free and Bluetooth technology is allowed for making phone calls and performing other actions on these devices for drivers aged 19 and older.
  • Observe speed limits. Adhere to posted speed limits and adjust your speed based on road conditions. Slow down in school zones, residential areas, and adverse weather conditions.
  • Use turn signals. Indicate your intentions by using your turn signals in advance. Make sure to signal when changing lanes or making a turn.
  • Practice parking. Practice parallel parking and parking in different scenarios to build confidence. Always park legally and be considerate of others.
  • Stay calm and focused. Don’t let road rage or frustration affect your driving. Concentrate on the task at hand and avoid aggressive maneuvers.
  • Plan your routes. Familiarize yourself with your intended routes before driving. Use GPS or maps to help navigate if necessary. When you are operating with your learner’s permit, ask the adult driver with you to help you learn the roadways of your area.
  • Maintain your vehicle. Regularly check tire pressure, oil levels, and other essential fluids. Schedule routine maintenance to ensure your vehicle is in good condition. First-time drivers, we know that learning about vehicle maintenance isn’t necessarily “fun,” but it is crucial for safety.
  • Communicate with parents. Keep your parents or guardians informed about your driving plans. Share any concerns or questions you may have with them. We know that applications like Life360 may not be ideal (if you’re a younger person), but they can help bring peace of mind to your family.
  • Practice in different conditions. Gain experience driving in various weather conditions, such as rain or fog. Get comfortable driving during different times of the day.
  • Stay updated on road safety. Keep yourself informed about new traffic laws or regulations. Stay updated on best practices for safe driving.