Illinois, IFB work together to expand farm-use CDLs


Relief could come to the shortage of rural bus and farm truck drivers with a new Illinois driver’s license restriction.

The new J52 restriction took effect March 18, allowing a Class B or C Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holder to drive a Class A covered farm vehicle (CFV) without having to upgrade their CDL to a Class A.

“Since the implementation of Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT), we heard concern from members who could not possess a Class B CDL and drive a semi-trailer combination covered farm vehicle without going through ELDT,” said Rodney Knittel, associate director of transportation and infrastructure at Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB). “Ultimately, this is an example of us hearing a need from our members and meeting that need.”

Before the J52, the system would not allow someone to hold a Class B CDL and Non-CDL Class A license with a J51 restriction at the same time.

Now, a person that drives a school bus, or anything else that requires a Class B CDL or C license, can also drive a tractor-trailer combination vehicle for farm use. “Hopefully, this helps out both school districts and Illinois farmers,” Knittel said.

Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias and members of his staff worked closely with Governmental Affairs and Commodities staff at IFB to implement the change.

“The new J52 Restriction is designed to bring relief to farmers and rural communities,” said Secretary of State spokesperson Erin Henkel. “We appreciate Illinois Farm Bureau for working with our office to best serve the needs of farmers and rural communities who face enough struggles.”

To be eligible for the J52 restriction, drivers must complete all applicable exams including core, combination, airbrake and all three parts of the skills test.

Those applying to add the J52 restriction to a Class B or C CDL with an L (Air Brake) restriction will be required to hold a Commercial Learner’s Permit for 14 days. The L restriction will be removed from the CDL license once the applicant passes the pre-trip, skills and road exam in the Class A CFV.

Those eligible may operate a Class A CFV with farm plates to transport farm products, equipment or supplies to and from a farm if used within Illinois or interstate within 150 miles of the farm.

Direct questions on this change to Knittel at 309-557-3662 or


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