Illinois Motorcycle Laws — What to Know

Motorcycle ride in Illinois

Whether you live in Illinois or are just passing through on a motorcycle trip, knowing the state’s unique motorcycle laws is essential to your safety. These laws are in place for a reason — to help motorcyclists and other riders act predictably and stay safe on the road. Failure to adhere to these laws could result in fines, license suspensions, or even jail time. 

Here’s what you need to know about Illinois motorcycle laws. 

You Must Have a Motorcycle License or Endorsement

Having a driver’s license is not enough to qualify you to operate a motorcycle in Illinois. Instead, you must also have a motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. 

Anyone who is 18 or older can apply for a motorcycle license. To obtain this license, you must pass a written exam and a skills test. Alternatively, if you are over 18, you can take an approved motorcycle safety course to waive the license skills test. 

You must first obtain a state driver’s license or ID before you can qualify for a motorcycle license. 

You Must Have Valid License Plates

Your motorcycle must have license plates with the correct piston displacement before you can take it out on the road. If you need to transfer license plates from one motorcycle classification to another, you will need to send the plates and associated fees to the Secretary of State. 

Your Bike Must Have the Right Equipment

Your motorcycle needs to have the following equipment attached to be street-legal in Illinois:

  • At least one side-view mirror
  • Brakes on both wheels
  • A muffler
  • A license plate light
  • A horn audible at least 200 feet away
  • Headlights
  • Taillights
  • Stoplights
  • Hand grips at shoulder height or below

Failing to maintain your bike with any of this equipment places you at risk of receiving a ticket while riding. However, this equipment is also necessary to keep you and other drivers safe on the road. 

You Cannot Pass Between Two Vehicles Traveling in the Same Direction

According to Indiana law, motorcyclists cannot pass between two moving vehicles traveling in the same direction unless a clear traffic lane allows for safe passing. 

You also cannot pass on the right side of a right-hand lane unless there is pavement at least eight feet wide on the right side of the passed vehicle. 

You Do Not Have to Wear a Helmet — But It’s a Good Idea

Illinois does not have any helmet laws in place for motorcyclists. However, the Illinois Secretary of State highly recommends wearing a helmet for your own safety. 

Helmets can protect you against serious head injuries that could be life-altering or deadly. Even wearing an open-face helmet offers more protection than no helmet at all. 

You Must Have the Minimum Motorcycle Insurance Coverage

Insurance laws are some of the Illinois motorcycle laws many riders overlook. In order to operate your motorcycle in Illinois, you must carry at least the minimum amount of liability insurance coverage required by the state. These minimums are as follows:

  • $25,000 bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury per accident
  • $20,000 property damage per accident

Your insurance provider can help ensure that you meet these minimums. We also recommend talking to your insurer about other forms of coverage that may be helpful for your riding habits. For example, comprehensive coverage can protect your motorcycle from damage that occurs outside of an accident. 

Your Passengers Must Have Their Own Seats and Footrests

Illinois law does not prohibit motorcyclists from riding with passengers. However, all passengers must have their own seats and have access to footrests while riding. Additionally, riders and passengers must both straddle the bike while riding. 

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