Many people tend to put off or forget about renewing their driver’s license, as they don’t consider it a big deal. The general logic is that they earned their license and its expiring is a mere technicality. Illinois laws don’t see it that way, though, and driving with an expired license can lead to the same dire consequences as never having a license at all. 

What Happens if You Drive Without a License in Illinois?

A car being pulled over by the police in Illinois

The consequences of driving without a license in the state of Illinois are serious and can range from getting a ticket to getting your car impounded and even jail time. If you’re caught driving with a license that has expired for less than a year, you only get a ticket and a fine of up to $1,000. 

However, if it has expired for more than a year, then it’s a Class B Misdemeanor under Illinois law 625 ILCS 5/6-101. Depending on the circumstances, the maximum penalty for failing to renew your license in due time is a $1,500 fine and even up to 180 days in prison. Although jail sentences are relatively rare, it does happen on some occasions. For instance, a judge may want to teach a young person a tough lesson. The three situations that can be classified as Class B misdemeanors are:

  • Having a previously issued driver’s license that has expired for more than a year.
  • Driving without ever having a driver’s license or permit.
  • Not having the required age to get your driver’s license or permit.

There are certain situations in which driving with an expired license can escalate to a Class A misdemeanor. One common example is a driver who has a suspended or revoked driver’s license and fails to have it reinstated after the period of revocation or suspension passes. Class A misdemeanors have a fine of $2,500 and may include up to a year in jail. Also, in some situations, such as when the driver also doesn’t have valid car insurance, the police can impound the vehicle and only give it back once it receives proof of insurance.

Can I Renew My Expired License After Getting Caught?

Besides getting a fine and possible jail time, you may also receive a suspension or revocation of your license. The penalties for people getting caught with expired licenses depend on their prior behavior and are as follows:

  • For your first conviction, a two-month suspension.
  • For your second conviction, a four-month suspension.
  • For your third conviction, a six-month suspension.
  • For your fourth conviction, your license will be suspended for a year.
  • For your fifth conviction, your license will be revoked.

How Often Do I Have To Renew My License?

The time interval in which you need to renew your license depends on your age. If you’re under the age of 21, you have three months after your 21st birthday to renew it. After that, you’re required to renew your license every four years. After you pass the age of 81, the period is reduced to two years. Finally, if you keep driving after the grand old age of 87, you’re required to renew your license every year. 

You don’t have to wait until the last minute to do it, as you’re allowed to renew it in advance. Four-year and two-year licenses can be renewed one year before they expire. You can start the procedure for renewing your license on the Illinois Driver Services Department website. They’ll also mail you a renewal letter 60 to 90 days before your license expires with all the necessary information on how to do so. 

How Can I Get an Illinois Driver’s License?

The procedures for getting a driver’s license in the state of Illinois vary based on multiple factors, with the most relevant being the applicant’s age.

Getting a License If You’re Under 18

People under the age of 18 who wish to drive on public roads can take part in the Illinois Graduated Driver Licensing Program. After the age of 15, they can apply for a learner’s permit that allows them to practice their driving skills under the supervision of an adult who’s at least 21 years old and has a valid driver’s license. They’re required to drive for up to 50 hours, including 10 hours at night, to complete their learner’s permit phase.

Then, after getting written consent from their parent or legal guardian, they take driver’s education classes and are required to pass written tests. Up to the age of 18, there are also other requirements for drivers. In their first year on the road, they’re only allowed to drive between certain hours of the day and can’t have more than one passenger in the car who’s not a family member and is under 20 years old, unless they’re accompanied by their parent or legal guardian.

Getting a License if You’re Over 18

The procedure of getting a license is similar for adults, up to a point. The first thing you can do is visit an Illinois Driver Services facility to submit relevant paperwork, such as proof of signature, Social Security number, and proof of local residency. You then have to complete an adult driver’s education course, which allows you to apply for your license. 

Getting your permanent driver’s license typically requires passing a vision test plus practical and theoretical road skills tests. Once you pass them, have your photo taken, and pay the necessary fees, you’ll be given a temporary license. The permanent one will then arrive in the mail within 15 business days. 

American Auto Insurance Can Help You With Reinstating Your Insurance

If you’re caught with an expired driver’s license, your insurance company may increase your rates and even cancel your insurance policy. If you’re in this situation, consider contacting us at American Auto Insurance in the Chicago, Illinois, area. We’ll work with you to determine the best course of action and give you the insurance coverage you need to get back on the road. We can also help with providing cheap sr22 quotes.

red chevrolet camaro on road during night time by Erik Mclean is licensed with Unsplash License


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