Have you ever wondered if ATVs are street legal in Illinois? Look no further as we have all the answers you need. And maybe answers to questions you are not aware that you should be asking. But let’s first get on with the main question.
No. ATVs are not Street legal in Illinois. Per Statues of the state of Illinois, it is illegal to operate ATVs and all other OHVs on any state public streets, roads, highways, or railways; unless they have been authorized for such use by a municipality or county and they have posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less.
Because the law in this state is a bit confusing for people who do not speak legalese, let’s get into more details.
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Are ATVs Street legal in Illinois?
The state law practically bans the use of ATVs on all streets and roads in Illinois, but that’s just a part of the story.
Because it also allows counties, townships, and other local governments to designate streets and roads that are in their jurisdiction as allowed for use by off-highway vehicles, including the ATVs.
Though, they can do this only for streets and roads that have a posted speed limit of 35mph or less. On all other roads, ATVs and other OHVs are allowed only to cross them at intersections.
The practical consequence of this is that in many towns in Illinois, ATVs are street legal, while in others they are not.
And if you are resident planning to buy an ATV, or non-resident planning an off-road adventure, you should get information from local authorities.
Can I ride an ATV on public lands in Illinois?
You can ride an ATV only on public land that is designated as permitted by a local municipality or agency that is in charge of managing that public land. All other public lands, natural preserves, and so on; are strictly prohibited for ATV use.
The state of Illinois also has a so-called OHV grant-assisted program for the development of off-road tourism. At the moment both private and public entities can take part in this initiative.
And there are nine OHV parks, some of which are on public land, where you can ride your ATV.
To be able to use an ATV on these public lands, it should be titled and registered, and you have to purchase a Public Access Decal, which is currently $30 for residents and $50 for non-residents.
Can I ride an ATV on private lands in Illinois?
When it comes to using ATVs and other OHVs on private lands, the majority of restrictions that applies to public lands do not apply here.
ATV can be used on private property without the need to title or register it. And if it is used only on private property, there is neither need to purchase a Public Access Decal.
Practically, all you need to be able to use an ATV on private property is that you are the owner or lease-holder for it, or to have permission from the owner or lease-holder.
The only rule you should follow on private property is concerning noise disturbance. It is forbidden to operate an ATV closer than 100 yards from any private residence from midnight to 6 AM, except at a crawling speed.
Do I have to register or title an ATV in Illinois?
Titling of an ATV that is purchased in or transferred into the state of Illinois is required by law. The only exception is ATVs that are used only for agriculture and related purposes, and only on private property.
Titling is done through any local Secretary of State Driver Services office and costs $30.
Registering an ATV is required only if it will be used on public lands or public roads, where they are permitted. And it is done in the form of purchasing Public Access Decal, which costs $30 for residents and $50 for non-residents from states that do not have a reciprocal agreement with Illinois.
Public Access Decals are valid for three years.
Do I need a driver’s license to operate an ATV in Illinois?
To be able to operate an ATV on public roads where they are allowed, you must be at least 16 years of age and have a valid driver’s license.
But, on both private and public lands, where they are permitted, there is no mandatory minimum age nor driver’s license requirement.
But, local municipalities and agencies that manage public lands where ATVs are allowed, can impose both the minimum age and driver’s license limits.
Are helmets mandatory in Illinois?
No, helmets are not mandatory for riding an ATV in Illinois. But, the ATV must be equipped with a certain minimum of safety equipment to be allowed on public roads.
An ATV must have functional brakes, red reflective devices both front and rear, headlights that are visible from at least 500 yards, tail lights visible from at least 100 yards, brake lights, rearview mirror, and turn signals.
One thing you must keep in mind is that these are state-wide requirements and that local governments and agencies can impose additional ones, including the use of helmets or other protective gear.
The Statues of Illinois prohibit the use of ATVs and all other OHVs on all public roads and lands, except for purpose of crossing such public roads.
But at the same time, laws allow for local authorities and agencies to designate which roads and lands in their jurisdiction are permitted to be used by these vehicles.
For these roads to be designated as such, the posted speed limit must not be above 35mph. And ATVs must be properly titled, registered with Public Access Decal, and riders must be 16 years or older with a valid driver’s license.
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