Illinois Motorcycle Laws

Since gasoline prices have remained relatively low, the number of motorcycle riders has leveled off in recent years. However, riding is gaining popularity in many places. New riders often have questions about basic legal matters. After all, a motorcycle is not exactly a car, but it is not exactly a bicycle either.

Bicyclists and motorcyclists have something else in common. They both face significant serious injury risks, since they are almost completely exposed to danger in the event of a car crash. If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident in Illinois, it is always important to speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer in Chicago straightaway. The sooner you reach out, the sooner we can start building your legal claim for damages.

Motorcyclist taking off helmet

Drivers’ License

Illinois riders must have a Class M license if the motorcycle’s engine is larger than 150ccs. If the engine is between 150ccs and 50ccs, the rider must have a Class L license. These vehicles are usually mopeds. If the moped’s engine is smaller than 50ccs, which usually means it cannot go faster than 30mph, the rider does not need a license.

All applicants must be at least 16. Applicants under 18 must complete a written test and a skills test. Applicants who are over 18 must either complete a safety course or the written test and skills test. Additionally, applicants who are at least 18 may apply for learner’s permits. These permits are relatively easy to get.


Illinois is one of only three states with no motorcycle helmet requirement. However, there are a number of good reasons to wear helmets, especially if you are a beginning rider. The added safety and visibility usually gives new riders more confidence. That confidence is critical, because operating a motorcycle is not nearly as easy as it looks.

Physical Requirements

This issue often comes up when riders operate dirt bikes and other such vehicles on streets and highways. Additionally, if your bike is in a minor accident, it might require some physical upgrades to keep it street legal. The physical requirements include:

  • A left or right side-view mirror
  • Front and rear brakes
  • Headlight, taillight, directional flashers, and license plate light
  • Handlebars below shoulder height
  • Unmodified muffler
  • Horn
  • Seat and footrests for rider and passenger

Moreover, the motorcycle must have a clear plastic windshield unless rider and passenger both use protective eyewear.


All riders must have 25/50/20 insurance policies that cover $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in personal injury claims, as well as $20,000 in property coverage. These minimum requirements are quite low, especially since new cars are so expensive and medical inflation is on the rise. More coverage does not greatly increase premiums, and the added coverage gives riders peace of mind.

All riders must also purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. The insurance minimums for vehicle owners are not much higher than the motorcyclist minimums, so a significant number of Illinois drivers are dangerously underinsured.

Hitting the Road

According to the Vehicle Code, a motorcycle is a motor vehicle. So, motorcyclists must obey all the same rules of the road.

Additionally, riders must always have their headlights on, and they must keep at least one hand on the handlebars. Lane-splitting in Illinois (straddling the dividing line between two lanes of traffic) is prohibited, as is wheelie-popping.

Contact a Dedicated Lawyer

Motorcycle riding is a fun way to get around, and it should also be as safe as possible. For a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in Chicago, contact Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates by phone or form submission. We have offices in Joliet and Chicago.