Illinois Driver's License
Car Title & Registration
ANL Traffic Safety
As noted before, public transportation around Argonne is limited. If you are staying any length of time, you will need a car for your stay in the Chicago area. Depending on the projected length of your stay, you may wish to buy a new car, buy a used car or rent a car. Car pooling (sharing a ride with another Argonne employee) is also an option for getting back and forth to work.
If you are bringing a car into the country be sure to check with the Illinois Secretary of State to make sure that it meets Illinois and US standards. You may need to contact the car manufacturer to obtain a letter stating that it meets the safety and environmental requirements in Illinois. This letter will then make it easy for you to bring the car into the country. If you buy a car abroad and ship it here intending to sell it later, little if any profit may be made from the sale if your stay here is less than one year. Be careful to check all aspects of the U.S. import taxes. Also most cars purchased outside of the United States will have the speedometer and odometer in kilometers rather than miles which may considerably reduce its resale value. As a rule, buying a new car here will cost you more than $13,000. As a general guideline, the resale value of a car (new or used) after one year is approximately two-thirds of the purchase price.
A used car that is likely to give you reliable service for a year costs about half the price of a new car. If you stay here only a few months, you may find an older car at a much lower price which will be very serviceable for the duration of your stay. Prices vary greatly depending on the year and model of the car, its condition and the number of miles it has been driven. For short periods of a few weeks, rented or leased cars are often a good alternative because their costs cover insurance, taxes, etc.
Considerations for selecting a vehicle include:
- What will the car be used for? What size and style is needed?
- How much are you willing to spend? Cash or financing?
- How much will insurance cost? Insurance rates vary with age of driver, size and style of car.
You can find a lot of information on the internet about the various makes of cars, their features and their reliability. Check out websites such as auto.consumerguide.com, edmunds.com, and
consumerreports.org for ratings on cars and average price in this area. Information on the value of a used car can be found in the Kelly Blue Book on-line at www.kbb.com by entering information on the year, make and mileage of the car. Some of these sites will link you to car dealers which will list cars that are for sale in our area. Make sure to shop around. Check the dealer ads and classified ads for a car that meets your requirements and their general cost.
Keep in mind that car prices, new or used are negotiable. Don't be afraid to bargain for a better price.
Argonne employees list used cars they have for sale in the Classified Ads in Argonne News which is published biweekly and distributed to all employees. You can also access the ads on the Argonne Intranet once you have computer access on site.
Loans are readily available for the purchase of new cars or more expensive used ones. Consult the Argonne Credit Union or your bank. Again, settle these matters before you buy. Time payments arranged by a car dealer are usually competitive with the interest rates offered through the Argonne Credit Union and banks.
Illinois Driver's License
Visitors to this country who possess a valid driver's license from their home country may drive in Illinois for the duration of their visit on their home jurisdiction's driver's license. The time period is not limited so long as the driver's license remains current and valid. We strongly recommend that you obtain an Illinois driver's license if you are staying more than six months, even if you do not require one. A driver's license is the standard form of identification here.
Persons over 18 years of age who can pass the examinations and meet requirements as to physical and mental ability are eligible for an Illinois driver's license. (Persons aged 16 to 18 may obtain a driver's license only after passing an approved driver's education class which is part of the required high school curriculum in the state of Illinois.)
A major hurdle for newcomers to the country in obtaining a driver's license is the Illinois law requiring an applicant for a driver's license have a valid social security number. Dependents of visitors holding visas which do not qualify them to obtain a social security number will have to follow special procedures to obtain a license. For complete information check out the Illinois Secretary of State website and follow the links to Temporary Visitor Driver's License under Departments, Driver Services.
You may apply for a license at any Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles office run by the Illinois Secretary of State. Their website has a listing of office locations, times they are open and services they offer. The two closest to Argonne are located in Lombard and Naperville. The requirements you must complete to receive an Illinois driver's license, depend on which state or country has issued your current driver's permit. You may simply be required to register with Illinois, take a written test or written and road test. Along with the written and road tests, a vision screening will be performed. Prior to these tests you may wish to review the Illinois Rules of the Road to familiarize yourself with the procedure for obtaining a driver's license, traffic safety issues and general information regarding the Illinois traffic laws and ordinances. A copy of Rules of the Road is available on-line, at every Drivers Service Facility, at most libraries and the Newcomers Assistance Office.
The application fee for every license is $10 and a learner's permit is $20. This fee will not be refunded if you fail to qualify for a license. When applying for a license, be sure to have the appropriate documents with you as outlined in Rules of the Road.
The car in which you plan to take the test must have valid license plates and properly working lights, directional signals, and horn. You must not drive it without a valid driver's license. If you do not have a license, or your license has expired, a person 21 years of age or older with a valid driver's license must drive you to the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles Office.
Do not drive without insurance. After purchasing a car, you must buy car insurance before you drive it. If possible, get your Illinois driver's license before applying for car insurance. It may put you in a "lower risk" category and save money.
- Automobile insurance encompasses three main types of coverage: liability insurance to cover damage done to others and their property,
- comprehensive insurance to reimburse you for damage to your car by fire, theft, etc., and
- collision insurance to reimburse you for all damage done to your own car.
Liability insurance has been required in the State of Illinois since January 1, 1990. It is recommended that every car owner get such insurance at the highest maximum limits available in the state. ($100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident is the minimum recommended.) Awards to plaintiffs in case of an accident tend to be guided by these limits. Proof of coverage may be requested by the State at any time. Keep the insurance card in your car.
Collision and comprehensive insurance are required by the financial institution that gives you a loan on the car. If you do not have a loan and your car is inexpensive, you may decide not to insure yourself against these risks. The collision part is expensive. On the other hand, if you are involved in an accident, it carries the advantage that your insurance company will pay for repairs according to a schedule of costs determined by the company.
Collision insurance is usually sold, at a considerable savings, with a $100-$200 (or larger) deductible - you pay the first $100-$200 of any damage to your car. Note that the size of the insurance premiums may increase with each claim you make to the insurance company.
Other insurance coverage:
- Uninsured motorist insurance is required by State of Illinois law. It pays damages for bodily injury which an insured or his passengers is legally entitled to collect from the owner or driver of an uninsured motor vehicle, if the injury is caused by the operation of an uninsured motor vehicle.
- Medical payments insurance to cover medical bills for the driver and passenger in the car.
- Uninsured property damage insurance to cover damage costs or value of an old car when in a collision with an uninsured motorist, required by State of Illinois law.
Insurance coverage is available directly from insurance companies or from local insurance agents. Look in the Yellow Pages under "Insurance" or ask your colleagues for a recommendation. Different companies have somewhat different rates, and some might not insure drivers from abroad as readily as others. Some of the better known and reliable companies are Allstate, Met Life, State Farm and Nationwide. Representatives regularly visit Argonne.
All accidents that may involve personal injury or property damage must be reported to the police and to your insurance agent. A report must also be made to the Illinois Department of Transportation within ten days. The necessary form can be obtained from the police or your automobile insurance agency. Refrain from making any statements regarding fault.
You may be able to negotiate lower insurance premiums if you can provide a written statement (preferably in English) from your home insurance agency concerning your driving record. Included in the statement should be: number of accidents (if any) you have been involved in, the years in which they occurred, how long you have been insurance with this company, and your insurance policy number.
Car Title & Registration
The proof of car ownership is called a title. You will not receive the title until the car is fully paid for. Until that time the lending institution holds the title. If a car is to be used on public streets, it must have a registration certificate and display the numbered plates that go with it. The title, registration certificate, and plates are issued by the State. The Argonne Credit Union can provide information and forms for automobile registration and licensing. Title registration and license plates may be obtained at any Drivers Service Facility. Car registration must be renewed yearly. The State will send you the necessary forms at the appropriate time.
If you buy your car from a dealer, he or she will obtain these documents for a small additional fee. If you buy from a private person, he or she must sign the car over to you on the back of the title certificate. This reassigned title in your name is enough to get a registration certificate and plates at one of the Drivers Services Facilities. Alternatively, a Currency Exchange or a local agent (check the Yellow Pages under "License Services") can provide a temporary registration for a small additional fee. After you have obtained the temporary registration you will be issued a yellow temporary plate to be displayed in the usual place for a rear license plate. The old title is sent to the State, you will be issued permanent license plates and a registration certificate in about a week and a new title in your name within six to eight weeks. Always keep your car registration in the car.
If you import a car, you must register it at a Drivers Service Facility. Plates from your home country are valid for 3 months as long as they have not expired in the country in which they were issued.
ANL Traffic Safety
Whether your stay is extended or short, there are several points that you should be made aware of while using a vehicle at the laboratory:
- All traffic laws of the State of Illinois are to be observed and are enforced at the laboratory.
- When driving at the laboratory, a valid driver's license is required on your person.
- As of 2006 motorcycle, bicycle, and riders of any wheeled conveyance (moped, inline skates...) are required to wear helmets while riding on site. Helmets must be Department of Transportation approved.
- Children under eight years must be secured in appropriate child restraint system. For more information check out www.buckleupillinois.org/.
- Should you be issued traffic safety violation for any of the following reasons, your division director will be notified and you will have to complete some form of remedial action. Should you have more than one offense in a 24 month period, your driving privileges on Argonne can be revoked.
Exceeding posted speed limit
Failure to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk
Failure to wear seatbelts
Failure to come to a complete stop at STOP signs
Failure to wear a safety helmet
Parking in a fire lane or blocking a fire hydrant
Parking in a No Parking Zone that blocks building dock areas
The village or town in which you live may require you to purchase a village windshield sticker. Check with your village hall. You can be fined if the police stop you and you do not have a current village sticker and your car registration lists that village as your address.
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