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how to get a motorcycle license in Illinois

Getting your motorcycle license in Illinois is not easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn the traffic rules and requires passing an exam at the DMV.

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys know that we need everyone who rides a motorcycle in Illinois to follow the same safety rules to keep safe on our roads. This web page will address how to get a motorcycle license in Illinois.

Therefore, our Illinois motorcycle accident lawyers believe that if you or a family member has been harmed in a motorbike accident caused by an irresponsible driver, you may be entitled to compensation for all losses and damages.

*** NOTICE: Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers assist motorcyclists injured in accidents across Illinois. We DO NOT handle any matters related to licensing or tickets. Please DO NOT contact our office with these inquiries as we cannot assist you.

To lawfully operate a motorcycle in the state of Illinois, you must obtain a license or permit. There are two types of motorcycle licenses you may obtain, depending on the displacement of the motorcycle you wish to operate.

Most motorcyclists in the state choose to obtain a Class M license rather than a Class L because it allows the operator to ride any motorcycle.

However, if you are new to the state or wish to learn how to ride a street-legal motorcycle, it is important to follow these steps to obtain your motorcycle license and avoid any harsh penalties or fines.

How to Get a Motorcycle License in Illinois?

To qualify for a Class L or Class M motorcycle permit, you must:

  • Be 18 years old and able to present a current state license or ID
  • Complete the written Rules of the Road exam
  • Pass a vision test
  • Pay a permit fee, or show successful completion of an IDOT motorcycle training course and be enrolled in a motorcycle training program if you are 16 or 17 years old

A Class L or M permit is valid for 12 months for 18 and 24 months for younger people.

Steps for Getting a Motorcycle License in Illinois

While operating a motorcycle under a learner’s permit, you are only allowed to do so during the day and under the supervision of another motorcyclist older than 21 who has a valid Class M license and more than one year of experience.

Once you have received your permit, there are a few steps to get your Illinois driver’s motorcycle license:

  • Bring proof of identification to an SOS Driver Services location
  • Present proof of completion of the Motorcycle Rider Education Course that has the written test
  • Take the written exam and driving skills exam
  • OR waive the written and driving exam and present proof of completion of an IDOT motorcycle safety course
  • Pass a vision exam
  • Pay a $10 fee

Illinois Motorcycle License Preparation Tips

When preparing for your motorcycle license test, you must memorize several rules and regulations. These elements include fundamental traffic laws concerning a motor-driven cycle, but there are some exceptions to these norms compared to a typical driver’s license.

The following are some things to consider while studying for the motorcycle licensing test:

  • Understand traffic signs
  • Undergo a medical screening
  • Prove you will follow an inspection routine
  • Show safe signaling and lane-changing requirements
  • Show you understand riding procedures at intersections, speed limits, and when to yield
  • Pass a vision screening test

After you’ve memorized the general driving test questions and completed the exam, riders must pass a practical riding test. This examination verifies that you are familiar with riding a motorcycle and know everything about the vehicle and its safety as a motorcyclist.

Benefits of Passing a Motorcycle Basic Safety Course:

The basic rider safety course covers all aspects of motorcycle safety and accident prevention. It starts with a review of basic equipment and gear checks before moving on to learning about your bike, basic techniques like serpentine turns, riding in circles, changing gears, and braking methods.

It’s also a fantastic motorcycle training course for new bikers or a refresher course for older bikers who are getting back on the road. It can also qualify you to obtain discounts on your motorcycle insurance, depending on the insurance company.

Rider Education and Safety Courses

Aside from IDOT-approved safety courses, the Illinois Department of Transportation offers various Motorcycle Rider Education courses to help you learn how to operate your motorcycle more safely.

The completion of the IDOT Motorcycle Rider Education Course and Intermediate Rider Course may be used to the same effect as an IDOT motorcycle training course.

Moreover, that completion of both courses allows you to waive the written and Illinois motorcycle license test if you are 18 years of age or older:

  • Basic Rider Course: This course offers training in a classroom setting, and students must all be 16 years of age or older and have a valid learner’s permit to enroll. The motorcycle training course includes 8 hours of training in the classroom and 12 training hours on a motorcycle.
    It will cover all of the basic riding skills, road rules, mental skills, and street riding skills needed to operate a motorcycle safely. In addition, this course doesn’t only allow you to waive the written and on-cycle exams; it may also qualify you for discounts on your insurance.
  • Intermediate Rider Course: Once you have completed the Basic Rider Course and obtained your Class M license or Class L license, you may enroll in this course for additional on-road motorcycle training.
    The class covers more advanced riding skills than the Basic Rider Course and offers strategies to help you remain safe and alert on the road. It runs a total of 9.5 hours, and completion of the course allows you to waive your written and on-cycle exams when renewing your valid motorcycle license in Illinois.
  • Basic Rider Course 2: After completing the Basic Rider Course and Intermediate Rider Course, you may take this 8.5-hour course to obtain motorcycle training that is more focused on your driving skills.
    You will need to own your motorcycle or have written permission to use another person’s bike to enroll, and you must already have obtained your Class M and Class L motorcycle licenses.
  • Advanced Rider Courses: Two advanced rider courses are available specifically for more experienced riders looking to hone their skills after a driving exam and road test. Each 8.5-hour course focuses on braking techniques, the behavior of other motor-driven cycles on the road, and more advanced driving techniques.

Required Equipment for You to Get a Motorcycle License in Chicago

The Basic Rider Course and Intermediate Rider Course provide a motorcycle and DOT-approved helmet for enrollees. Once these courses have been passed, you will need your bike or written permission to use another person’s bike to enroll in additional courses.

You will also be required to purchase your helmet. Additional equipment that is required includes the following:

  • Boots that cover the entire ankle and are not made of cloth or canvas. Leather is the preferred material for motorcycle boots but is not necessary as long as your boots are compliant with safety standards.
  • A long-sleeved shirt or jacket is required to protect arms and torso in the event of a fall or accident.
  • Full-fingered gloves.
  • Long pants are made out of denim, leather, or another sturdy and appropriate material. You may not ride your motorcycle wearing shorts or pants made of thin materials.
  • Eye protection such as goggles or protective glasses.
  • A valid license or permit is needed, plus proof of registration and insurance when enrolling in advanced courses.

Penalties for Motorcycle Driving Without a License

Operating any motor vehicle, including a motorcycle, within the boundaries of the State of Illinois is illegal without a license. When an unlicensed biker is involved in an accident, local law enforcement has limited options other than to charge you with a crime.

The consequences of being caught riding or driving without a valid driver’s license include the following penalties, especially if you are found to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs:

  • Up to $2,500 in fines, or
  • One year of imprisonment in the county jail, or
  • Court-ordered participation in a substance abuse program

Even experienced riders without a license will also face one of the following:

  • Upon your second offense within five years, you must enroll in an anger management program; or
  • A mandatory minimum of $300 in court-ordered assessments will be levied against you

Suppose this is your first offense as a driver or motorcycle operator without a license under the Illinois Vehicle Code. In that case, the court may allow for other arrangements such as community service to satisfy your punishment.

The judge may defer sentencing and order probation if it is not deemed appropriate to incarcerate you. However, you will need to pay a minimum supervision fee of $20 per month and may be ordered to complete other tasks such as obtaining a GED certificate or attending school to get your license.

In Skokie, Illinois, one woman was apprehended for operating a motorcycle without an Illinois driver’s license in 2012. The 25-year-old was arrested when officers found that her license had been revoked in April due to a DUI conviction. She was transported to the Skokie Police Department and released on a $1,200 bond.

Why People Choose to Ride a Motorcycle

With a valid Illinois driver’s license to operate a motorcycle, a biker is exempt from the tough restrictions on ATV riders. You can ride at any time, even in inclement weather and during restricted hours, as long as you follow state laws for motorcycle operations.

Motorcycle enthusiasts enjoy riding because it offers them a sense of freedom and exhilaration that cannot be found when driving conventional vehicles such as sedans and SUVs. In addition, advancements in motorcycle technology have made it less expensive to maintain a bike for regular use on or off the road.

Motorcycle fatalities increased by 7% in 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which showed 4,976 fatalities that year compared to 4,692 in 2009.

Even though motorcycles represent just 2% of all registered vehicles and only .7% of all vehicle miles traveled in the United States, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities.

How to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents

To keep yourself safe on the road while riding your motorcycle, you need to be aware of factors that contribute to the chance of an accident.

According to NHTSA, other motorists are at fault for two-thirds of all crashes involving motorcycles. Here are some steps you can take to avoid accidents:

  • Wear appropriate protective clothing and gear (helmet, gloves, boots, long sleeves, and pants)
  • Practice defensive riding techniques; expect the unexpected
  • Avoid riding in poor visibility conditions, such as fog and heavy rain
  • Be sure to follow all posted speed limits and traffic signs

Need to Consult With a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Because of a Mishap?

Worried about the consequences of operating a motorcycle without a license, or were you involved in an accident? The experienced attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help protect your rights if you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident.

We are dedicated to fighting for the compensation that you deserve but don’t have time to wait! Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 for your free consultation with an experienced legal professional. We work on contingency, so you won’t pay any fees until we win your case.

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- Michonne Proulx

Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own.

- Ethan Armstrong

Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan!

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This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

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