channel 19

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…

  • jaydee

    I moved from Illinois to Iowa and had no problems transferring my CDL in 2005, was a CDL holder since the early 90′s with no tickets. Moved back to Illinois last year and had to retake every freaking test!!! Written, Skills, and driving. I have never had a recordable accident or ticket since I have had a CDL. The State of Illinois does not care, it is all a giant money grab!!!

  • Budda

    I obtained my CDL in TX moved to Knoxville TN and just paid the fee and provided my d. o. t card. When I moved to IL they wanted me to take the written and road test again. I just about gave up my CDL. Then my family and I decided to move to MI and I just had to pay the fee provide my DOT card and that was that. How does Illinois expect someone to get a unit unit to take the test. I checked into renting trick and trailer but but to expensive. I am am sure glad I moved.

  • MercenaryMan

    Getting a truck and trailer or straight truck can be expensive, unless your company provides the truck/trailer, but you cant get it to the location, they dont deliver, so unless you have a buddy who can drive the unit to the testing site your really SOL…I rented a 33,000 lb straight truck last time and had my brother drive it,(Im an expediter) complete with auto trans, and didnt have any issues getting the CDL, and no special test for the Auto Trans either. The testing was very complete, the skills tests were tough, as was the tester, but I passed easily, my tester said, “youve done this before”….I chose a site out of the way to avoid long waits, got an Appt for my testing, and it took about an hour and a half. I do recommend you try and do the SKILLS TEST at least once before you go there, use some cones and set up your own course somehwere, and practice your depth perception test.

  • Mike64

    Why would anyone move to IL on purpose anyway?? I just escaped IL to AZ and I’m not looking back.
    If you need to be near a specific place in IL at least move to a neighboring state instead.
    The IL corruption taxes are pretty high, so I’m hoping whoever moves their will have deep pockets to afford it and good luck!

  • Jimmy the Greek

    The cdl thing is a bunch of bull ! i started in New jersey , back then if you had a drivers licence you could drive any thing on the road with it !

  • g

    Yep illinois now issues drivers license to ANY foreigner..even if they are here illegally…..Calif is the same….if you can crawl over the fence..head for the nearest Motor Vehicles Dept..your license awaits you…..upgrade to CDL at your leisure and take those jobs Americans dont want!! lol

  • g

    illinois Motor Vehicles workers WERE handing out CDL to ANYBODY who had the Bribery Money….this goes on Nationwide at MotorVehicles..every week SOMEBODY is being ARRESTED for SELLING the Precious “CDL” to foreigners and whatever MANIACS….with Zero knowledge of truck operation….it becomes a Meal Ticket for the “new driver”…..THIS is how incompetent our FMCSA and D.O.T. really is……Criminals are operating INSIDE the Motor Vehicles Dept….online are stories of LAW ENFORCEMENT cops also involved in these Money Making operations with Motor Vehicles workers to get CDL’s for whoever has enuff CASH……thanks crooked cops!!! See ya at the weigh station where you can Rip Off Americans even MORE……these Cop agencies are becoming CORRUPT just like Mexico..anything goes……any illegal alien can obtain a CDL today in several states its LEGAL and other states they pay under the table.

  • g

    I was in the TSA office to renew Hazmat….surprisingly the “office worker” was a nasty looking mexican dude with Prison tatoos…demanding all my personal information and then I was moved in for fingerprinting by ANOTHER foreigner…and the Waiting Room was filled with mexicans who spoke in Spanish…waiting for the “PRECIOUS” government documents like TWIC, Fast Track, and Hazmat!!
    Some Payola going on in THAT office for SURE!!!

  • Daniel Kupke

    About a year ago now I moved from ILL to Vegas !!! What a change !! Just a fee n my n a valid medical card ?? NEVER NEVER GOING BACK TO ILL TI LIVE !!!! I was born n raised there but in the last 10 years or so ILL has gone nuts with all these increased fee’s for anything to do with lic a vehicle or a person in that misserable place !!!

  • ironage

    That should be illegal. The CDL is technically a federal licence.

  • Tommie

    Moved to IL on purpose? You’re kidding, right!

  • Ron P.

    Yes, if you leave Illinois and come back and had your CDL changed to another state, when you move back, you have to retake all written tests along with your pre trip and road test.