Illinois Motorcycle Laws
Like other states, Illinois has its own set of laws that pertain specifically to the use and operation of motorcycles. These laws are in place not only to protect motorcyclists and their passengers, but also to protect other persons that share the roadway. While it is impossible to predict or prevent the actions of others, motorcyclists can reduce the risk of causing or contributing to a collision by knowing our state’s motorcycle laws, and adhering to them at all times. If you own, operate, or ride as a passenger on a motorcycle in Illinois, the Chicago Motorcycle Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. encourage you to familiarize yourself with state motorcycle laws and regulations.
The lawful operation of a motorcycle in Illinois requires that the driver be insured by a policy meeting minimum coverage requirements for property damage and bodily injury. Effective January 1, 2015, motorcyclists are required to have at least $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage, including uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and $20,000 in property damage coverage. In abbreviated form, this would be referred to as a ‘25/50/20’ policy. It is important to keep in mind that 25/50/20 is the bare minimum in coverage required by law, and motorcyclists should consider the benefits of increasing coverage amounts to the maximum extent that is financially feasible.
Drivers must hold a valid Class M (motorcycle with 150cc+ displacement) or Class L (motor-driven cycle with <150cc displacement) license or permit in order to lawfully operate a motorcycle in Illinois. Applicants must be at least 16 years of age or older, complete an IDOT Motorcycle Rider Course, and persons under the age of 18 must also take the driving exam and written test. To view more information, see Motorcycle License in Illinois.
In Illinois, neither motorcycle drivers, nor their passengers are required to wear helmets. Although the controversy over whether to amend current laws has been highly debated, the ‘no-helmet requirement’ continues to remain in effect, making Illinois one of only 3 states as of mid-2015 to have no type of regulation over helmet use for motorcyclists. Despite regulation, the use of helmets is encouraged at all times, particularly in light of NHTSA data showing that head trauma is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes, and un-helmeted riders are 40% more likely to sustain a fatal head injury.
There are no age restrictions for motorcycle passengers in Illinois—a passenger can be any age. However, the motorcycle must be designed for two persons, including an appropriate seat and footrests for passenger use. In addition, the passenger must ride astride the driver (with one leg on either side), as well as wear protective eyewear.
Motorcycles must be equipped with at least one side-view mirror (right or left); brakes on both wheels; headlights, stoplights, taillights and license plate light; handgrips below shoulder height; muffler (unmodified in manner to amplify noise); and horn (audible at 200 ft.). If carrying a passenger, the design, seat, and footrest requirements stated above will also apply. In addition, both driver and passenger must wear eye protection (glasses or goggles), unless the motorcycle is equipped with a transparent windshield.
Motorcyclist must use their headlight at all times, even during the day, as well as keep at least one hand on the handlebar at all times while motorcycle is in motion. In addition, riding on one wheel and lane-splitting are not permitted. Riders should keep in mind that adhering to laws and regulations are just part of the safe operation of a motorcycle. As accident and injury attorneys, we encourage all riders to view the Illinois Motorcycle Operator Manual (updated May 2015).
If you have a question regarding motorcycle laws in Illinois, or want to discuss your legal rights and options following an accident, contact the Chicago Motorcycle Injury Lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. by calling 773-516-4100, or sending us a message online.