Giannoulias urges Illinois lawmakers to adjust age for mandatory driving tests

Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias is urging Illinois lawmakers to adjust the age requirement to take a mandatory driving test for approximately 280,000 residents.

In a report released Wednesday, Giannoulias said the state should pass legislation to permanently adopt a measure put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic which raised the age requirement for behind-the wheel testing from 75 to 79-years-old.

Of Illinois' 9.1 million licensed drivers, approximately 280,000 are between the ages of 75 and 78 who would be impacted by the legislation's approval.

In his recommendation, Giannoulias cited a study by the Illinois Department of Transportation which found seniors were among the safest drivers of any age category. The 2022 study by IDOT showed a crash rate of 24.39 per 1,000 drivers who were 75 and older, which Giannoulias said is lower than every age range of drivers between 16 and 69-years-old.

Giannoulias said the adjustment would also make Illinois law more consistent with other states.

"Statistics show that seniors are among the safest drivers of any age category," Giannoulias said in a statement. "This change would make Illinois driving standards for senior drivers more consistent compared to other states while keeping Illinois as one of the strictest states for license renewals."

Illinois is the only state in the nation that still requires senior drivers take a driving test on a regular basis, Giannoulias said. In 2005, Indiana did away with mandated driving tests for seniors and New Hampshire followed suit in 2011.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois lawmakers passed a measure to temporarily raise the driving test age from 75 to 79 in response to the unprecedented public health crisis. The measure was scheduled to expire on Jan. 1, 2023, but lawmakers extended the act to Oct. 1, 2023 in order for the secretary of state's office to review the age increase and recommend whether it should be made permanent.

Giannoulias asked state lawmakers adopt the rules immediately so seniors would not have to take driving tests after the Oct. 1 deadline and before the requirements are made permanent.

Current Illinois law would remain unchanged when it comes to renewing drivers for other age groups:

  • All drivers below the age of 81 must renew their licenses every four years;
  • Drivers aged 79 and 80 must take a vision and driving test (if their four-year renewal is up during this time period);
  • Drivers aged 81 to 86 must take a vision and driving test every two years;
  • Drivers aged 87 and older must take a vision and driving test every year