According to Illinois Statute 815 ILCS 710/10.1— any vehicle that operates on three wheels or less is considered by the State of Illinois to be a motorcycle. This includes scooters, mopeds and recreational vehicles that can be operated on the road and have less than four wheels. Anyone who wishes to operate a motorcycle must have a specific license to do so, and motorcycle licenses are divided into two groups. The deciding factor between whether or not you will need an M class or L class license is the engine displacement on your bike.
Both licenses cost $10 to obtain and $5 to renew and the same process is required for both licenses in order to show that you are fit to operate a motorcycle. Much like when learning to drive a car, a learner’s permit must first be obtained and the permitted motorcyclist will only be allowed to ride with an experienced and licensed motorcyclist for a period of three months. During this period, the permitted driver will also be required to attend a twenty hour course that is called the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Motorcycle Rider Course. This course comes at no cost to the motorcyclist and if it is completed successfully, the road test may be waived.
Riders who wish to obtain a motorcycle license will need to study both the Illinois Rules of the Road and the Motorcycle Manual in order to learn all of the laws that need to be followed while riding a bike. Students will also learn about motorcycle safety and how to take precautions in order to avoid being in a motorcycle accident. The Motorcycle Manual will go over maneuvers as well as how and when to execute them safely. If a Road Test is required, these same moves will need to be demonstrated in order to pass the test.
The Road Test
If required to pass the road test, a motorcyclist will need to demonstrate that he or she can perform the following functions.
- Starting and stopping the engine
- Making slow turns of varying difficulty
- Making fast turns
- Riding in traffic
- Coming to safe stops
- Following the rules of the road and all applicable laws while riding
- Performing all functions safely with all of the proper precautions
Illinois has joined a number of other states in requiring a more extensive process for the licensing of motorcyclists. Because of the higher number of motorcycle accidents in relation to accidents that occur with other motor vehicles, the State of Illinois wants to place a greater amount of focus on motorcycle safety and make certain that motorcyclists are trained properly before they hit the road. While there is no current law in Illinois that requires riders to wear helmets, the benefits of wearing one are stressed strongly throughout the Motorcycle Rider Course.
Riders who will be operating motorcycles with an engine displacement of under 150cc will receive a class L license while those who operate bikes with a greater displacement will receive a class M license. If a rider wishes to operate motorcycles in both classes, he or she must meet the licensing requirements for each license.