Illinois Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

Learn about driving provisions and special programs focused on keeping both Illinois' older drivers and roadways safe.

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While the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the Illinois Secretary of State apply to drivers of all ages and stages, the state imposes some special requirements and restrictions on older drivers.

Illinois state rules are explained in more detail below, but a number of them focus on identifying and handling older drivers who may have become unsafe. Specifically, Illinois:

  • requires drivers age 75 and older to renew their licenses in person
  • requires both a vision test and road test for drivers ages 75 and older renewing in person
  • requires drivers ages 81 through 86 to renew their license every two years, and those 87 and older to renew annually, and
  • accepts requests from physicians and members of law enforcement or the judicial system to conduct an unsafe driver investigation.

License Renewal Rules for Older Drivers

Special rules apply to older drivers who seek to renew their licenses. Drivers age 75 and over may not renew by mail.

Time limits: Drivers age 21 through 80 are issued licenses that are good for four years that expire on their birthdays.

Those ages 81 through 86 must renew their licenses every two years.

And drivers age 87 and older must renew their licenses every year.

The Illinois Secretary of State operates the Super Seniors Program, a voluntary mobile program that goes to libraries, senior centers, and park districts and helps seniors ages 74 and under renew their licenses by giving both Rules of the Road classroom instruction and a vision-screening exam.

Vision test: Required at renewal. Licensing personnel will conduct a test free, or drivers can have an exam performed by a licensed optometrist, ophthalmologist or physician, who must complete a Vision Specialist Report and conduct the exam within six months of the renewal request.

Written test: Required at every renewal for drivers age 75 and older.

Road test: Required at every renewal for drivers age 75 and older.

Possible License Restrictions

The Secretary of State can place restrictions or conditions on a person’s driver license after administering a driving test and discussing possible restrictions with him or her.

The most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses.

Illinois residents who live in areas with low populations may also apply for a restricted license authorizing them to drive only within limited areas. For more information, contact a local driver license facility.

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation in Illinois

Unlike most state licensing authorities, the Illinois Secretary of State will accept information about potentially unsafe drivers only from police officers.

But an Illinois law mandates that doctors must encourage patients of their own responsibilities to notify the Secretary of State of any medical conditions that may cause a loss of consciousness or affect their abilities to drive safely within 10 days of becoming aware of those conditions.

Drivers who are required to report their medical conditions must also complete a Medical Report Form every time they renew their licenses.

Illinois Driver Improvement Programs

Illinois residents can improve their skills and confidence by taking an education and training class specifically developed for older drivers. Local course offerings are called Rules of the Road Review Courses.

How to Get a License Reinstated

For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in Illinois, contact the local driver license facility.

How to Get Parking Placards or License Plates for a Disabled Driver

Disabled person parking placards and license plates can be issued to drivers who have impaired mobility if a licensed physician, surgeon, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or certified nurse midwife certifies the condition.

The placards and plates are also available for those who have:

  • severe heart or lung disease
  • a diagnosed disease or disorder that significantly limits the use of lower extremities
  • the need to use portable oxygen
  • limited ability to walk without assistance or resting, or
  • the loss, or loss of the use of a hand or an arm.

To obtain a disabled placard or plate:

Learn More About Illinois Driving Rules for Seniors

The Secretary of State website includes information for Illinois drivers. Of special interest is the Senior Citizens page, which includes links to relevant forms and publications related to driving and parking.

Where to Find a Lawyer for Help

You can use Nolo’s Lawyer Directory to find a local lawyer experienced in representing older people who need help with auto accidents or traffic tickets in Illinois.

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