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Todd Dills

CDL transfer rigamarole in IL: One operator’s experience

| January 14, 2014

Minnesota State Truck Driving Championships | photo by John BormanRecently former driver Paul Frederick of Kalamazoo, Mich., wrote in recently querying different state procedures for testing on the occasion of transferring your CDL to a new state upon a family move. Of particular interest, as you’ll read below, is Illlinois’ apparent requirement that already-licensed drivers re-take the test, from the written to driving-skills portion. Here’s his story: 

I got my CDL back in 2005 through Schneider National’s training school. At the time I lived in Southern Illinois near a Wal-Mart distribution center that SNI had a contract with. I spent 1.5 years working for SNI before I started running a dedicated run for Earl Henderson Trucking in Salem, Ill.

In August of 2008 my wife and I moved to Knoxville, Tenn. I found little problems transferring my CDL from Illinois to Tenn. All I needed was my current CDL and my DOT physical long form, which I had. Pay a fee, get my picture taken and I now have a Tennessee CDL exactly like the one I had in Illinois. 

In January of 2010, however, we decided to move back to Illinois. When I went to transfer my CDL, I thought, “this will be no problem.”  Boy was I wrong! Not only do you have to pay the full fee (just like you never had a CDL), you also had to take every single test, including skills (driving, backing, etc). The employees at the DMV told me they were doing this because of the recent “pay for CDL” scandals that had happened. What they fail to realize is Illinois was the state implicated in those scandals! They also did not understand how difficult it might be for someone to get a truck to do their skills test. I was fortunate and had a farmer friend who had a truck and hopper bottom I could use for the test. I’m assuming most drivers moving to Illinois won’t have this option.

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About a year ago my family and I moved to southwest Michigan. Transferring my CDL here was also no problem. They “spot-check” some people with a written test, but not everyone. I have no problem with having to re-take a written test, but I feel having to redo the skills test is a little excessive. What’s amazing is my out-of-state CDL wasn’t accepted, but the only skills test I had ever had was in Illinois at the exact same facility where I had to re-take it!

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I don’t plan on moving back to Illinois, but I think something needs to be done about this. They do not realize the unnecessary aggravation or, in some instances, expense they are forcing CDL holders to go through if they want to move to Illinois. I feel it could impact the overall economy of the state in the long run. Drivers who may consider relocating to Illinois may be turned off by this unrealistic testing procedure. 

My question is for those who’ve transferred a license in recent memory: What was the state’s procedure, and should there be a uniform way to do this around the country? What’s ideal? Let me know in the comments…

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