CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- After months of extensions, the deadline for Illinois drivers to renew their licenses is Thursday.
Drivers were allowed to postpone renewing their licenses during the pandemic, but that ends Thursday. The deadline applies to licenses, ID cards and permits, but not commercial driver's licenses.
Wendell Powers' driver's license expired in June of 2020, but the Hyde Park retiree was in no hurry to renew since the Secretary of State offered several extensions during the pandemic.
"I kept putting it off, putting it off because there were extensions," he said.
But, now is the time to worry about it. As of Dec. 1, there are no more extensions for an expired driver's license.
"A ticket for driving on an expired license is up to $500," Secretary of State spokesperson Beth Kaufman said.
It's a ticket Flex Bonbata could have gotten had he not been reminded about the deadline.
"I didn't know until my dad told me," Bonbata said. "But I'm a kid, I don't listen to my parents and then I got pulled over and they said you better go get your license 'cause you could get in trouble for this."
With the looming deadline this week, there has been an uptick of people at driver's license facilities downtown and in the suburbs.
Extensions were necessary during the height of COVID because of closed facilities and social distancing. While the pandemic produced long lines, it also resulted in some permanent changes, including renewing licenses online.
"We've had more than a million people renew from the comfort of their own home," Kaufman said.
But there are eligibility requirements to renew virtually. Mainly, a driver needs a clear driving record. Another way to avoid long lines is making an appointment, which is not available downtown, but it is encouraged at many other facilities.
The next deadline the Secretary of State's office is bracing for is May 3. That is the day Americans will need a Real ID to fly. Getting one online is not an option, so Illinoisans must get one at a drivers' services facility.