Continuing in our series of articles analyzing the ATV laws in every state, which stemmed from this article, we are addressing the ATV laws in Illinois in this article. It should also be noted that, while I am an attorney, I am not your attorney and am not giving legal advice. If you have questions, you should consult a local attorney.
How does Illinois Define an ATV?
Illinois defines ATV or all-terrain vehicle as “any motorized off-highway device 50 inches or less in width, having a manufacturer’s dry weight of 900 pounds 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.”
As you can see, certain UTVs will fit in the definition of ATV as well, depending on weight and dimensions. To see what UTVs qualify, check out this guide on UTV dimensions and this guide on UTV weight.
Titling an ATV or UTV in Illinois
You must have a certificate of title for any ATV or UTV you own that was purchased on or after January 1, 1998. If you don’t already have a title for your ATV or UTV, you can apply for one with the Secretary of State.
The OHV Usage Stamp in Illinois
To legally operate an ATV or UTV in Illinois anywhere besides the exceptions listed below, you must obtain an OHV Usage Stamp. The exceptions to this requirement include the following:
- On your private land of permanent residence;
- Where the ATV or UTV is used for activities associated with farming or livestock;
- Where the ATV or UTV is owned by the government;
- In a sanctioned competition; or
- on OHV-grant assisted sites where on OHV Access Decal is displayed (see below).
The usage stamp must be displayed prominently on the front half of your ATV or UTV. Before you get upset about even more fees, know that the fees collected for the usage stamp are dedicated to developing and maintaining new and existing trails in Illinois.
The OHV Public Access Decal in Illinois
You must have an Off-HIghway Vehicle, or OHV, Public Access Decal on your ATV or UTV if you are riding it on any OHV grant assisted site in Illinois.
The OHV Public Access Decal must be placed in a visible location in the front center of your ATV or UTV.
To obtain an OHV Public Access Decal, you must provide proof of identity and proof of legal residence in Illinois. Importantly, you will have to provide proof of purchase in the form of a receipt to obtain a replacement decal if one is ever needed so make sure to store your receipt in a safe place.
States with decals offered reciprocity by Illinois are limited to Iowa, Tennessee and Oregon; although, hopefully more have been added by the time you are reading this. You can get more information on where to purchase or replace the decal or about reciprocity by calling IDNR at 217-782-2965.
Can you Operate an ATV or UTV on the Street in Illinois?
Unfortunately, it is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV on any street, highway or roadway in Illinois. You may cross a roadway at an angle of approximately 90 degrees where quick and safe crossing is available. Before crossing a street, you must come to a complete stop and yield the right of way to any pedestrian or vehicle. If you are crossing a divided highway, you may only cross at an intersection.
This statewide prohibition from street use does not apply where a local ordinance or resolution has been adopted that permits ATV or UTV operation on local roadways.
Where are you Permitted to Ride an ATV or UTV in Illinois?
It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV in any of the following areas:
- within any nature preserve in Illinois;
- on any railroad; and
- in any tree nursery.
When operating an ATV or UTV on private property, you must have the written or verbal consent of the owner or lessee of the property. If you are operating on the personal property of another, you are required to stop and identify yourself at the request of the landowner or his/her representative. If the landowner requests, you must promptly remove your ATV or UTV from the property.
When it comes to public land in Illinois, you may only ride an ATV or UTV if the lands are designated for use by ATVs.
Can you Hunt from an ATV or UTV in Illinois?
Unless a firearm is unloaded and in a carrying case, you may not operate or be a passenger upon an ATV or UTV while in possession of a firearm. Likewise, any bow must also be in case or made inoperable to be carried on an ATV or UTV.
Furthermore, it is unlawful to hunt from an ATV or UTV unless you possess a standing vehicle permit issued by the IDNR, Office of Law Enforcement to certain handicapped individuals.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV in a careless or heedless manner.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV in such a manner as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV at a speed too fast for conditions regardless of the posted speed limit.
- When driving on a frozen surface, you may not operate, except at the minimum speed to maintain forward momentum, within 100 feet of any person not also on an ATV or UTV or any area that has been cleared for skating.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV within 100 feet of a dwelling between midnight and 6:00 a.m. at a speed greater than the minimum speed necessary to maintain forward movement. This of course does not apply on private property with the consent of the owner.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV that is emitting pollutants in violation of standards set by the Environmental Protection Act.
- It is unlawful to litter from an ATV or UTV.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Unless a higher speed limit is posted, it is unlawful to exceed 20 mph on any paved road or 10 mph on any unpaved road or trail.