The Illinois Vehicle Code: Drivers' licenses and parking
What is it?
The Illinois Vehicle Code is a comprehensive state law covering many different aspects of motor vehicle operation. In this section, we address only matters relating to the licensing of persons with disabilities, and laws relating to parking.
What is its purpose?
To make sure that only those persons with disabilities who can operate a motor vehicle safely can obtain a driver's license. To make parking a vehicle easier for persons with disabilities and to enable them to have more ready access to their destination.
Who can be helped by these laws?
Persons with disabilities who need a driver's license or who want greater access in parking their vehicles.
Your legal rights
Drivers license requirements
Getting a drivers license
The Illinois Secretary of State is the state agency which issues drivers' licenses. That office decides whether the driving privileges of people with disabilities will be denied or restricted in any way.
You make an application for a license or renewal of a license at the local Drivers Services office of the Secretary of State. You can contact the Illinois Secretary of State at (800) 252-2904 (voice/TTY).
When you apply for a license or for the renewal of a license, you are required to disclose whether you have a physical or mental condition which in any way impairs your ability to safely operate a vehicle. You also are required to notify the Secretary of State within 10 days if you become aware of a change in your condition affecting your ability to drive. Your license can be canceled if you fail to disclose a condition affecting your ability to drive at the time you apply. If the condition no longer exists, you must submit a final Medical Report form completed by your doctor explaining that the condition no longer exists. This will remove you from the follow-up program with this office.
All notifications can be sent in writing to:
Secretary of State
Medical Review Unit
2701 S. Dirksen Pkwy.
Springfield, IL 62723
People with hearing impairments may be accompanied by an interpreter when renewing or obtaining a license and when taking a road test.
The need for a medical report
Under certain circumstances, you will be required to supply a Medical Report from your doctor in order to get a drivers license or to determine what restrictions should be on your license. A medical report is required in the following situations:
- If you indicate that you may have a physical or mental condition which in any way impairs your ability to safely operate a vehicle;
- If you have had several traffic law violations, or if the Secretary of State receives information from another source that you may have an impairment that affects your ability to safely operate a vehicle. Other sources include doctors, judges, and police officers; and
- If you were required to submit such a report in connection with any prior application for a license or application for a renewal of a license.
The Medical Report may be completed by the doctor of your choice, at your expense. If the report clearly indicates that you are safely able to drive, a license will be issued. If the report clearly states you cannot safely drive, your license will be denied.
If the Medical Report raises some question as to your ability to drive, then your application will be forwarded to the Illinois Medical Advisory Board. This Board is composed of physicians who will review all of your medical information as well as your past driving record. The Board may require you to submit to further medical examinations, at your expense. The Board will then issue a decision either granting full driving privileges, granting driving privileges subject to restrictions, or denying privileges.
Driver's license restrictions
A restriction is a limitation affecting your ability to drive.
Requirements that you:
- Use prosthetics or adaptive devices while driving;
- Drive a vehicle equipped with hand-operated brakes or that is otherwise modified;
- Wear prescription lenses or that you only drive during daylight.
If you are granted a restricted driver's license, the type of restriction will be noted on your license. You may be required to carry a "Medical Restriction Card" which states your driving limitations or conditions in greater detail.
If your driving privileges are restricted due to a medical condition, you may be required to sign a "Medical Agreement." This is a document in which you agree to:
- Remain under the care of a doctor for the medical condition which affects your driving ability;
- Adhere to prescribed treatment; and
- Allow your doctor to report any changes in your condition which affect your ability to drive.
If you suffer or have suffered from a condition which causes loss of consciousness, you must submit a statement from your doctor certifying that you can safely drive. You must also sign an authorization allowing your doctor to report any change in your condition affecting your ability to drive.
Persons not eligible for a license
Certain persons with disabilities are not eligible to get a driver's license. These persons include the following:
- Any person who has been found to be disabled and has had a legal guardian appointed to manage their affairs;
- Any person who has been found to be unfit to stand trial; or
- Any person who requires a Medical Report and the doctor cannot certify that the person can drive safely.
Parking your vehicle
Special license plate or decal
People with disabilities may obtain a special license plate, decal or card. This card shows that the vehicle is operated by or for a person with disabilities. If you rely on transportation by family members, up to two additional sets of plates will be issued to the relatives who drive you.
Such a plate, decal or card entitles the vehicle to be parked in any parking spot specially designated for use by people with disabilities. In January 2014, the Secretary of State's Office changed their policy on disability placards and license plate holders. They can issue four types of parking placards:
- Meter-Exempt Permanent Placards: These are issued to people with disabilities who have significant impairments making it difficult to access a parking meter. This placard allows the holder to park in spaces reserved for people with disabilities. The vehicle is exempt from the payment of parking meter fees and any time limitations on parking, except in parking spots designated for use of a one-half hour or less. It should be noted that these exemptions are available only when the person with disabilities is present while the vehicle is in use.
- Non-Meter-Exempt Permanent Placards: These are issued to people with permanent disabilities who still have the ability to access the parking meter. This placard also allows the holder to park in spaces reserved for people with disabilities. This placard does not exempt the holder from parking meter fees and time limitations at parking meters.
- Temporary Placards: These are issued to people with a temporary disability. They are valid for the length of time your doctor has designated. If the placard is issued by the Secretary of State, the length of time can't exceed 6 months. If the placard is issued by your local municipality, the length of time can't exceed 90 days. This placard does not exempt the holder from parking meter fees and time limitations at parking meters.
- Organization Placards: These are issued to organizations that transport people with disabilities for free. These placards expire on April 30, 2018. They allow the authorized holder to park in spaces reserved for people with disabilities when transporting these individuals. This placard does not exempt the holder from parking meter fees and time limitations at parking meters.
Disability license plates must stay permanently affixed to the vehicle they were issued to. These plates allow the holder to park in spaces reserved for people with disabilities and they do not exempt the holder from parking meter fees and time limitations at parking meters. If you are issued a disability license plate, you will also be issued either a meter-exempt or non-meter-exempt parking placard and you must appropriately display the placard if you are parked in a space designated for people with disabilities. Disability license plates are only issued to someone who owns a vehicle and is:
- The person with a permanent disability
- A parent or legal guardian of a minor with disabilities
- An immediate family member who resides in the same house as the person with disabilities and who is responsible for transporting that person
In order to obtain a special license plate, decal or card, you must file an application with the Illinois Secretary of State. Along with the application, you must present either:
- A physician's certification that you have a qualifying condition, or
- Your Illinois Disabled Persons Identification Card indicating that the applicant has a Class 1A or Class 2A disability.
Click the links below for more information:
Illinois Secretary of State - Application for Persons With Disabilities Certification for Parking Placard
Illinois Secretary of State's Office - Persons With Disabilities
Illinois Secretary of State's Office - Identification Cards
Disabilities Guidebook: State of Illinois Disabled Person Identification Card
How to protect or enforce your rights
The formal review
If you disagree with the decision of the Illinois Medical Advisory Board to deny or restrict your driving privileges, you may make a written request for a "Formal Review." This request must be made within 30 days of the Board's decision. You may submit further medical evidence in support of your request for review.
Your application is then reconsidered by a review panel composed of members of the Board. If the Board continues to deny or restrict your driving privileges following formal review, you have the right to get a formal hearing before the Secretary of State, as explained below.
Appealing the denial, cancellation, or restriction of your driving privileges
You may request a "Formal Medical Hearing" if:
- You disagree with the denial of your license or the restriction of your driving privileges imposed because of a medical condition; and
- The denial or restrictions have been upheld after Formal Review by the Medical Advisory Board. This hearing is conducted by a panel consisting of a Hearing Officer and three members of the Illinois Medical Advisory Board. The hearing will be held in either Chicago or Springfield.
At this hearing, you have to provide clear and convincing evidence that your driving privileges should not be denied or restricted. You will be allowed to present witnesses and other evidence and you may review all of the medical evidence relied on by the Board. You may be represented by an attorney. The State must supply an interpreter for persons who need one because they are hearing impaired. Following the hearing, a written decision is issued indicating whether your license should be denied or restricted.
Judicial review in court
If you disagree with the decision made at the Formal Medical Hearing, you may file a complaint in the Illinois Circuit Court of the county where you live. This complaint must be filed no later than 35 days after the date that the Formal Medical Hearing was issued. A state judge will then review the decision.
Where to go for more information
Statute and regulations
The Illinois Vehicle Code can be found at 625 ILCS 5/1 et. seq. Specific provisions relating to the denial or restriction of a driver's license due to a medical condition can be found at 625 ILCS 5/6-903. Provisions relating to parking privileges can be found at 625 ILCS 5/11-1301.1. The section on handicap license plates is at 625 ILCS 5/3-616.
The regulations regarding rules governing appeals and hearings are at 92 Ill.Admin.Code 1001.