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In this article, we delve into the street-legality of ATVs and UTVs in the state of Illinois. Whether you’re a resident of Illinois or not, if you are planning on taking your ATV or UTV to Illinois roads, it is important that you know the regulations set by the state regarding the operation of ATVs and UTVs in this state. Here, we will present important information to help you make informed decisions regarding the use of your ATV or UTV on public roads by answering the questions below.
- Is there any law in Illinois that allows for ATVs or UTVs to be street legal?
- How does Illinois’s law formally classify an ATV or UTV?
- Can an ATV or UTV be street-legal in Illinois?
- What are the requirements to make an ATV or UTV street-legal in Illinois?
- What are the operational and safety requirements when driving a street-legal ATV or UTV in Illinois?
- Where can I drive my street-legal ATV or UTV in Illinois?
- I am not a resident of Illinois; can I still register my vehicle in this state?
Illinois Legal Classification of ATVs and UTVs
The Illinois Compiled Statutes define an ATV as “any motorized off-highway device 50 inches or less in width, having a manufacturer’s dry weight of 900 lbs or less, traveling on three or more low pressure tires, designed with a seat or saddle for operator use, and handlebars or steering wheel for steering control”.
A UTV is defined as “a recreational off-highway vehicle that is not more than 80 inches wide; has a dry weight of 2,000 pounds or less; travels on four or more non-highway tires; has non-straddle seating with a steering wheel; has a minimum operator age requirement of at least 16 years of age; has a rollover protective structure; and has a maximum speed capability greater than 35 miles per hour”.
According to the Statutes of the state of Illinois, it is illegal to operate ATVs and all other off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on any state public streets, roads, highways, or railways. However, if authorized by a municipality or county, they can be used on such roads with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. Operating an ATV or OHM on any Illinois roadway, except for authorized crossings, subjects the operator to all Illinois Vehicle code laws including mandatory insurance, equipment, licensing, registration, and DUI.
Can an ATV or UTV be street-legal in Illinois?
Yes, but only if it meets certain requirements and follows certain rules. In the state of Illinois, your ATV or UTV may be registered as a low-speed vehicle (LSV) or a medium-speed electric vehicle (MSEV).
An LSV is “a four-wheeled motor vehicle that has a maximum speed greater than 20 miles per hour but not greater than 25 miles per hour” and an MSEV is “a four-wheeled electric motor vehicle that has a maximum speed greater than 25 miles per hour but not greater than 35 miles per hour”. Both LSVs and MSEVs must comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for low-speed vehicles.
LSVs and MSEVs: What are the requirements to make an ATV or UTV street-legal in Illinois?
Since ATVs and UTVs are going to be registered as a either an LSV or MSEV, you must comply with the following requirements that are the required for LSVs and MSEVs:
- Certificate of Title
- Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin
- Proof of insurance
2. Parts required for ATVs and UTVs
- Front and rear turn signals
- Stop lamps
- Reflex reflectors (one red on each side near the rear and one red on the rear)
- Exterior mirror mounted on the driver’s side and either an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger’s side or an interior mirror
- Parking brake
- Windshield that conforms to FMVSS glazing materials standards
- Seat belt assembly for each designated seating position
- Vehicle identification number that conforms to FMVSS requirements
- Additional parts required for UTVs
- A rollover protective structure
What are the operational and safety requirements when driving a street-legal ATV or UTV in Illinois?
When driving a street-legal ATV or UTV in Illinois, you must follow these operational and safety requirements:
- You must always wear a seat belt
- You must obey all traffic laws and signs
- You must not drive on any road with a posted speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour
- You must not drive on any toll road, interstate highway, or controlled access highway
- You must not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- You must not carry more passengers than the vehicle is designed for
- You must not drive in a reckless or negligent manner
Where can I drive my street-legal ATV, UTV or OHV in Illinois?
You can drive your street-legal ATV or UTV on any road that is under the jurisdiction of a municipality, township, county, or other unit of local government that has authorized the operation of non-highway vehicles on its roadways by ordinance or resolution. You can also drive your street-legal ATV or UTV on any road that is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation that has authorized the operation of non-highway vehicles on its roadways.
You must check with the local authorities before driving your street-legal ATV or UTV on any road to make sure that it is allowed and to find out if there are any restrictions or conditions.
If my ATV or UTV is registered as “street-legal” in Illinois, can I drive it on the roadways in other states?
In most cases, YES. However, it is important to understand that each state has its own set of laws and regulations regarding the operation of off-road vehicles on public roadways. While some states may have “Registration Reciprocity” agreements or similar regulations that recognize the street-legal status of your ATV or UTV from Illinois, others may have different requirements or may not permit the operation of such vehicles on their roadways.
Our best advice here is to familiarize yourself with the specific laws and regulations of the state or states you plan to visit or travel through. Contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles or relevant authorities in those states can provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding the operation of street-legal ATVs or UTVs. Click here to view ATV & UTV laws in other states.
I am not a resident of Illinois; can I still register my vehicle in this state?
No, you cannot register your vehicle in Illinois if you are not a resident of this state.
Out-of-state registration of UTVs and ATVs is a detailed and nuanced topic though and requires more specific advisement to your individual situation than we can provide in this article. As such, we have partnered with Dirtlegal.com. DirtLegal.com helps drivers to register their ATVs and UTVs in “street legal” states like Illinois, so that they can be driven on roadways in other states that honor Registration Reciprocity.
In Illinois, driving an ATV or UTV on public streets is not a simple matter. You must meet certain equipment and paperwork requirements to register your vehicle as a low-speed vehicle or a medium-speed electric vehicle, and you must follow certain operational and safety requirements when driving it. You must also check with the local authorities before driving your vehicle on any road to make sure that it is allowed and to find out if there are any restrictions or conditions.
While this article has provided a comprehensive overview of the street-legal laws on ATVs and UTVs in this state, it is important that you consult your local DMV for more specific and accurate information regarding ATV and UTV regulations. Because state laws can change over time and regulations differ between jurisdictions, the information presented here may not provide the most up-to-date or region-specific details. Remember that street legality is determined by state and local laws, and it is your responsibility as an ATV or UTV owner to ensure that you are operating your vehicle within the legal boundaries while also getting the most fun out of it.