Illinois Motorcycle Laws

by Joshua on May 21, 2014

So you just got your new motorcycle in Illinois and you’re ready to get riding. But first you have to navigate the sometimes confusing world of Illinois motorcycle law. This article should help guide you through the red tape and get you on the road sooner.

Which license do I need?

There are two main types of licenses you can obtain for riding a motorcycle in Illinois — class L and class M. In addition, there are two instructional licenses available. A moped does not require a special license, and can be operated by anyone with a valid Illinois license.

  • Class L – A class L license allows the carrier to operate any motor driven cycle with less then 150cc displacement. This is the license you would need to operate motorcycles that do no meet the criteria of being considered a moped but are under 150cc. A written driving test and an on cycle driving test are required for some applicants. If you have already taken the written driving test to obtain an instructional permit, you are exempt from taking the written portion of the test again. Additionally, if you are over 18 years of age, you are exempt from taking the driving portion of the test if you can show proof of completion of an approved motorcycle training course. There is also a ten dollar class L license fee.
  • Class L instruction permit- If you are over 18, you can obtain a class L instruction permit that is valid for 12 months. If you are under 18 you may apply for a 24 month permit, if you have proof of completion of a driver’s education course. Both licenses require you to have valid proof of identification, birth date, and residency when you apply. You will also be required to pass a written knowledge exam. With an instruction permit, you are only allowed to operate a class L vehicle during daylight hours and under the direct supervision of a licensed rider 21 years or older who has at least 1 year of riding experience.
  • Class M- A class M license allows the carrier to operate any motorcycle on the roads and highways of Illinois. In order to get a class M license, you must pass a written test and an on cycle driving test. If you are under 18, you also need to take the Illinois motorcycle education course in order to obtain a class M license. Anyone over 18 can waive the need for a written and on cycle test by providing proof of completion of an approved IDOT motorcycle safety course. There is also a 10 dollar fee for this license.
  • Class M instruction permit- The requirements for a class M instruction permit are similar to the requirements for a class L instruction permit. Anyone over 18 can obtain a 12 month permit, and anyone under 18 can obtain a 24 month permit with proof of completion of a driver’s education course. In addition, anyone who is under 18 and applying for a class M license must be currently enrolled in an approved motorcycle training course. You will also need proof of identity, proof of residency, and any applicable permit fees.

Registering and titling

In Illinois, in order to operate a motorcycle you need to have it registered and titled. This proves you own the vehicle and have paid all appropriate taxes. When purchasing from a dealer, most of the time they will handle this for you. In a private sale, you will have to do this yourself. In order to do this, you will have to obtain and complete the form “application for title and registration” You can obtain this form by going into the Illinois Secretary of state (SOS) office where registration and titling is handled. In addition to this form, you will need the title that the previous owner signed over to you during the sale. You will also have to pay fees and sales tax. The fee to register a motorcycle is 95 dollars the first time you register it plus 41 dollars for your license plate and registration. After that, you will only have to pay the 41 dollar fee each year to renew your registration. The taxes you will owe on a motorcycle can be calculated by referencing the Sales Tax Rate Reference Manuel

Other laws

When operating a motorcycle you must follow all traffic laws the same as any other motor vehicle. Doing things like operating the motorcycle on one wheel is considered reckless driving—they even have a special violation known as aggravated operation of a motor vehicle on one wheel. You may not pass between two cars unless there is an open traffic lane in between them. You also may not pass a car on the right on a motorcycle unless there is a full 8 feet of clear pavement to do so. Basically, if it isn’t allowed in a car, it’s not allowed on a motorcycle.
This article is just an overview of Illinois motorcycle laws. Some other resources that might be helpful can be found in the Illinois motorcycle operator manual and in the Illinois rules of the road pamphlet. Both of these can be found online at the Illinois SOS website .

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