Sent the following to the Illinois DMV

Discussion in 'Laws, Legislation & Emissions' started by Warner, Aug 26, 2008.

  1. Warner

    Warner Member

    I sent the following inquiry to the Illinois DMV on their web-form. In the past I have gotten fairly quick replies to such inquiries. I sent this on Friday and as of now (Tuesday morning) I have not gotten a response yet. I'm very interested to see what they say. I saw several cops (including a state cop) on my way home from work yesterday. Usually if I see them first, I let off the throttle, idle, and pedal until I'm clear from them....just to avoid any unneccessary hassle. There have been times where they passed me from behind (when I've been going 30+ and not pedaling) and so far I haven't had a problem. I do obey all the traffic laws, wear a helmet/gloves, and have a flashing tail light (and headlight that I use when it's dark or kind of dark). Anyway, here's my letter:

    "I have a question regarding motor-assisted bicycles. I want to make sure that I’m legal, and thought that registering it as a moped would be the correct way. I was told by a fellow rider who contacted you (the IL DMV) that he was told the following:

    You cannot register a bicycle as a moped at all in Illinois, because Illinois will only register vehicles that have a (standard-format 17-digit) VIN. Bicycles don't have VINs, and you can't make one up--the prefix has to be one assigned to a vehicle manufacturer registered with the federal Dept. of Transportation.

    Also, the bearing of a VIN indicates that the motor vehicle qualifies as some current federal classification of motor vehicle (this is the only way it can legally be applied to any vehicle) and a bicycle won't qualify in any federal classifications of motor vehicles. This is why bicycle manufacturing standards are regulated by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, and not the Department of Transportation.

    To register a vehicle you either need an existing title, a title record (in the case of applying for a lost title) or a MCO (Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin, in the case of a new vehicle). To get a title your bicycle would need a VIN (which you can't get for it) and to get an MCO it would have had to qualify into some federal motor vehicle specification (and bicycles won't qualify in any federal motor vehicle class).

    There is a provision in the motorcycle codes that says that "any vehicle which does not have a VIN shall be issued one by the state", but if you ask about this (as I did) the DMV will tell you that they will only do this for vintage and antique vehicles that qualified as motor vehicles at the time of their manufacture.

    A motorized bicycle with an engine that falls under the moped restrictions (2 hp or <50cc or 30 mph level top speed) is still considered a bicycle, and as far as the state is concerned doesn't require that you hold any license, or maintain registration or insurance.

    Furthermore, Motor vehicle insurance in IL won't cover a motorized bicycle at all, because in IL, auto insurance policies are not required to cover vehicles that are not titled or registered, and you cannot title or register a bicycle.

    Please confirm that this is correct – thank you!


  2. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member

    Well Warner -- I think that it's a GOOD LETTER. Waiting to see some other replys here on up coming posts. I think that some MB riders may say - why rock the boat ? Maybe the boat NEEDS SOME ROCKING in the states such as yours - that seem to leave the MB rider - just kind of hanging - not knowing what to expect - if pulled over.. I was talking with another MB rider here in my small town the other day - he said "that while riding in the next town over the pooolice not only gave him a ticket but also impounded his MB" - THIS CAME AS SAD NEWS !! Just think - maybe your reply back from the DMV will be a positive one - then you can carry a copy with you. Let us know. Happy Riding from - Mountainman
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2008
  3. Warner

    Warner Member

    I'm done trying....just going to RIDE now!

    Okay...that was my LAST attempt to contact anyone at the DMV downstate. All they ever do is give me the run-around, quote pieces of laws (that I already KNOW, that are NOT applicable to motor assisted bicycles), or direct me to another "division" since they don't really know the answer. I got the following e-mail from the DMV yesterday in response to my questions in the post above:

    "Thank you for directing your questions to the Office of the Secretary of State via the Internet.

    (625 ILCS 5/1-148.2) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 1-148.2)
    Sec. 1-148.2. Motorized Pedalcycle. A motorized pedalcycle is a motor-driven cycle whose speed attainable in one mile is 30 mph or less, which is equipped with a motor that produces 2 brake horsepower or less. If an internal combustion engine is used, the displacement shall not exceed 50 cubic centimeter displacement and the power drive system shall not require the operator to shift gears.

    Motorized Pedalcycles (Mopeds)

    A motorized pedalcycle (moped) is a motor-driven cycle. It produces two-brake horsepower or less and has a maximum speed of 30 mph. If the moped has an internal combustion engine, the displacement shall not exceed 50 cubic centimeters, and the power drive system shall not require the driver to shift gears.

    A moped driver must have a current, valid driver's license of any classification. A person without a driver's license who wishes to operate only a moped must obtain a Class L license. The owner must have a Certificate of Title and a registration plate must be attached on the rear of the moped.

    A moped driver may not carry a passenger unless the moped is equipped with a passenger seat and passenger footrests. If the moped is to be driven at night, it must be equipped with a white light on the front that is visible for 500 ft. and a red reflector on the rear that is visible from 100 to 600 ft. when in front of a vehicle's headlights. A red light visible for 500 ft. also may be used in addition to the reflector.

    Should you have additional questions regarding this situation, please contact the Public Inquiry Division at (217) 785-3000. They will be happy to assist you."

    Useless carp! So I called the number that is listed there and talked to a guy who genuinely seemed like he understood and wanted to help. When I pressed him, he told me that he was going to have to put me on hold to talk with his supervisor. I was on hold for a SOLID 5 minutes (if not longer) before he came back and apologized for the wait. He basically went back to the same old "moped" and/or "motorcycle" babble. I told him that I'd be HAPPY to register it as a moped, as long as he could tell me HOW to do that without a title or proper VIN to GET a title. He had no answers and finally just said, "We have to go by what the state police say...let me give you their phone number". I told him that I had already spoken with someone from the state police, who quickly blew me off as well (didn't even know the moped laws...I was telling HIM what they were). He tried to send me to the "Specially Constructed Vehicles Division" (which turns out is only ONE woman). I did call and leave a message for her...A MONTH AGO, and haven't heard back to date. So guess what folks? I'm DONE with them. They lead to nowhere and don't have any answers. If pressed, I'm sure their simple answer will be "No". So I'm just going to ride it until I get pulled over and then see what happens. I rode in today.....made it to work in 44 minutes (40 of them were moving, the other 4 were stopped at lights). Not bad for a 18 mile trip. 27mph average speed, 37mph top speed.

  4. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member

    Warner - I think that I would just carry a copy of the paper that you received from DMV. Maybe I am wrong here - but what are you lacking - just the title and registration ? Well - glad that you are riding -- Mountainman
  5. OSCAR383

    OSCAR383 New Member

    Illinois Laws

    hey warner what part of illinois are you from im from franklin county souther parts. every cop i have talked to mostly county sherrif's around here have all looked at me confused . stating the state will have to issue a vin (but cant) and that id have to put turn signals and brake lights on . so i asked him "if you saw me riding a bike with a motor on it would you pull me over?" he replied "if i did it would only be because i was curious what it was and where i could get one." so im just gonna ride it and if pulled over dont fail the attitude test and i think ill be ok. its not like where baja'n thru peoples back yards ( well im not at least)
  6. Warner

    Warner Member

    Hahahaha...yeah, JUST that stuff...title, registration, plates...Hehehehe....nothing MAJOR! Hehe. I'm just gonna' RIDE it.

  7. Warner

    Warner Member

    I'm tending to agree. I'm in the northwest suburbs. My commute is from Elgin to Arlington Heights (about 20 miles each way). About 1/3 of my total miles are done right down Route 72, from Elgin into Schaumburg. It only takes one cop with an attitude to ruin the whole thing, though. I was REALLY trying to be legal, but the state apparently doesn't give you any options for that. If I DO get pulled over, it'll be interesting to see what type of ticket they write or what law exactly I'm breaking...

  8. seabillco

    seabillco Member

    Government and you!

    Hi, Warner
    Thanks for all the great updates!
    Your story is EXACTLY what I'd expect from governmental and quasi-governmental institutions. Sadly, you're stuck with a bunch of incompetent losers running your governmental affairs. Even more sadly, we are ALL stuck with that fact at every level, everywhere! While there are exceptions, the rule is that public "servants" aren't there to serve you; they are there to get a paycheck.
    It's apparent to me that your state's officials (and mine in Oregon) simply have not considered the question you're asking. No one can answer you because there is no answer. The "answer" you seek is just some law that has yet to be written by some guy or gal whom you and your fellow citizens elected.
    The incompetence and laziness demonstrated by your state's employees is typical, in my experience. Sadly, the dishonesty of not simply telling you they have no idea what to tell you and they don't intend to do any research either, is also typical. As I said long ago on this issue, they will always pass the buck or say "NO" when pushed because there's nothing in it for them to say "YES" or even "MAYBE."
    You, like many of us here in this forum, are blazing a new trail and you are, therefore, sticking your neck out a bit.
    In Oregon, our legislators specifically addressed the issue of ELECTRIC assisted bicycles. Typically, they missed that opportunity to address the more fundamental issue of a bicycle that is assisted by ANY kind of mechancial device, regardless of the power source. Governments REACT to 'problems' rather than anticipating them. MBs weren't common when they wrote the electric bike laws so they didn't think of it.
    If you go through the lengthy list of laws in Oregon relating to bicycles, you have to shake your head in amazement at the utter waste of time, money and resources revealed therein. No one ever stopped to look at the big picture or ever tried to come up with an overall approach that made some sense - or even what in the world they were TRYING to accomplish.
    It's just a patchwork of conflicting junk that some legislator dreamed up in response to some issue s/he was fired up about at the moment.
    There are laws about scooters, 'pocket' bikes, electric bikes, bikes, mopeds, motorcycles, Segways (Yes, there are specific laws about that!) etc. The laws aren't consistent and don't make any sense if you're trying to see an overall pattern.
    For example, there's no speed limit on a bicycle and adults don't have to wear a helmet but on an electric bicycle, you can't exceed 15 mph and everyone must wear a helmet. Why? The only reason I can think of to require someone to wear a helmet is to force them to try to protect themselves from injury. If that's the reasoning, then why does it only apply if you're going slowly on an electric bike and not when you're hauling tail on a regular bike? It doesn't make any sense.
    The simple fact is this: There is no good reason. Someone got fired up about electric bikes one day and wrote a new law about them that failed to consider the existing laws about regular bikes. Everyone else in the legislature went along with it because they're all too lazy, incompetent and stupid to actually look carefully at what they were voting on that day!
    A rational person would have looked at all the laws relating to bicycles and re-written the entire mess for a consistent approach. But, the motivation probably wasn't to produce a consistent, logical approach. Instead, the motivation was most likely to satisfy some constitutent who was pressing the issue.
    That's the way the laws are. Since they're written by people and people are flawed, the laws are flawed. You can do this stuff all day long with any issue you want. Try the Federal tax code, for example. Sadly, the list is endless.
    I looked at Arizona law recently and it was the best I had seen about MB. It basically tells you what a motorized bicycle is NOT.

    (Even then, it fails to consider the possibility that a bike will be powered by something other than gas or electricity.)
    You might want to copy it and send it to your local representative or senator and ask them to introduce the same thing in your state. Other than that, you're just out there on your own and you may well end up getting a ticket, losing your bike, etc.
    Also, FWIW, IMHO, my guess is that the faster you ride, the more likely you are to have a problem with a cop. In other words, SLOW DOWN!

    Good luck and thanks for sharing!
    Steve G.
    Grants Pass, Oregon
  9. I look at it this way. We have this controversial law.
    This gives cops reason for anything.
    Out here Mopeds and Scooters can be ridden without a plate so it's cool.
    But I cannot ride the trails.
    When I see a cop I look genuinely tired.
    I usually see a cop around Cherry Creek area and I half pedaled my 26 mile trip over there so I actually AM genuinely tired.
    Cops leave me alone because they see me as a bicycle rider with a helper engine.
    They see that I'm not depending SOLELY on my engine.
    I also ride my quiet Titan Cronus over MOOP2 on the trails so that helps a lot.
    Yes there are exceptions but if you give a cop a reason to pull you over,if he thinks for even a moment you are doing something dangerous then you may get heat.
    Me? My engine REALLY IS used to help me pedal. Sometimes when I'm not too tired I'll shut her down and pedal some.
    I get my excersize that way.
    If a cop see's you tearing down the trail without pedaling and you look fit enough to pedal then your gonna get heat.
    Just don't give them a reason,ride responsibly,ride slow and respect everyone.
  10. loquin

    loquin Active Member

    A question: I read somewhere that Elgin's ban is specific to 'Motor-driven cycles.' Since Illinois has a separate, specific classification for 'Motorized Pedalcycles,' (and, a motorized bike should fit that classification,) wouldn't this be an 'out' for anyone riding them in Elgin, were you able to get your bike registered as such?
  11. Warner

    Warner Member

    No, a local ordinance takes presedence, but I ride right by cops every day. They don't care, and/or don't want to pull a commuter over. I'm not anticipating any problems, really. I had a local cop tell me that they wouldn't bother with that type of thing unless I was doing something REALLY stupid.

  12. loquin

    loquin Active Member

    Yes, but since a 'motor driven cycle' is not the same as a 'motorized pedelcycle,' even if you were stopped for it, it may not stick.
  13. Riseandrun

    Riseandrun New Member

    Hi Warner,
    I'm from Illinois too, and had the same questions. I think you're good to go based on the 4 qualifications needed. (Except for your top end is too fast:grin:)
    I originally did a search for the "motor with a 2-brake horsepower or less". I'm pretty sure Class L is for 16-18 year old's who want to ride a motorcycle on the road as long as it's under 150 cc. (If that was a question) Since you have a regular license you should be OK. All that said, I've seen guys riding mini-bikes, keep in mind they are NOT pedaled, pulled over by the police and confiscated.
    Hope this isn't beating a dead horse.
  14. DougC

    DougC Guest

    It is not that the people who are supposed to answer questions at the Sec of State are incompetent; it's just that if you ask ,they always try to quote parts of the motor vehicle code that deal with the subject you inquired about. So they search for parts about motorized bicycles--and there aren't any. So they either send you stuff about "motorized pedalcycles", which are mopeds, or they send you quoted passages about obtaining titles and registering vehicles that have VINs--and that doesn't apply to bicycles at all, either.

    If there was a part that said "any vehicles not specified as legal, are prohibited", that would make it easy--but I haven't been able to find anything that says that (as far as I can understand, not being proficient in legalese).

    The definition of bicycle they use says "propelled by human power", but it doesn't prohibit engines. And the other parts that mention motorized vehicles and toys that are not street-legal, do not specifically mention motorized bicycles among them.

    At the time I started riding mine, a co-worker said there were a couple older guys in his neighborhood (in the same town as me) who had been riding these things around the neighborhood for a number of years.


    Bummer if you are getting hassled. Maybe go riding and let a cop write you a ticket? A first offense can't cost much, you'd get a definite answer one way or the other and the judge might drop the fine totally out of disgust if the Sec of State can't provide a straight answer.

    Every roadway law they claim to have should be written in the Motor Vehicle Code. The State's attorney should be able to point out the parts that explain that a motorized bike is prohibited. I've spent quite a while looking, and I cannot find anything that says that.
  15. Warner

    Warner Member

    All I can tell you is that there are local ordinances against such "vehicles", but nobody (authorities) don't seem to care if some old guy is riding his bike to work on the shoulder of the road (at least so far). I rode right by the police station in Elgin....had an officer drive right past me without even looking in my direction. I rode it yesterday a few miles to Home Depot to pick up some saw blades and then later about 5 miles each way to Meijer to pick up a prescription and a gallon of milk (I LOVE those bags!). No problem at all....

  16. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    OK... I had read somewhere else that there was a news article in one of the IL papers stating that under 50cc required only license, and I figured that the motorized pedacycle definition states that it's pretty clear.

    But what's confusing is that they say a motorized pedacycle is a moped. So if a moped has requirements like insurance & all the other requirements for a motored vehicle... then I dunno what to think. That definition seems mighty clear to me, up until the point where they say it's a moped.
  17. Warner

    Warner Member

    Yep, you pretty much nailed it. Illinois DOES classify them as mopeds, and then doesn't give you any way to register it as such since you can't title a bicycle. This is the point that I arrived at with them after SEVERAL lengthy calls to them. I DID tell them that it was a bicycle, NOT a moped. They don't have any legal description of a motor-assisted bicycle, therefore they classify it as a moped. It's a catch 22 and I'm done calling them or trying to move forward. I'm going to ride it unless/until I get ticketed, and IF that happens (not seeming too likely based on my experiences so far), I'll make a decision about what I want to do.

  18. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    Well, if I were you... I'd try to find a copy of that news article that was mentioned somewhere in this sub-forum.

    And you could try calling them up and saying, "I've built a custom moped, how can I get a VIN assigned to it?" Then see what the safety specs & requirements are for a moped.
  19. Warner

    Warner Member

    Their response is pretty clear. Outside of an inspection by the "specially constructed vehicles" division (which they wouldn't DO on a bicycle - it would fail immediately when the tires weren't DOT approved), there isn't a way to register it as a moped. To register a moped, it needs a VIN that was issued by the DOT. A bicycle won't cut it. There really aren't any options, until/unless the state of Illinois makes a distinction that defines what a "motor assisted bicycle" IS, and what the rules about it are.

  20. frogman

    frogman New Member

    I am on the same Quest

    Just checked in and read your post. I live in Illinois, across from St. Louis, and want to ride hassle free in. Know that is impossible, in this State.
    I have been dealing with the same people you have. There are several of us, on other sites, trying to get it straight. No real luck.
    Met a vision disabled rider 2 years back. He had a Edge set up. Said that he got stopped by each town cop, until the knew him. His take on it from the disabled was that As long as it was friction driven, it was legal. Belt or chain drives put one into a gray area. From what I can find out, so far, there seems to be no clear distinction.
    My calls today were fruitless and frustrating, to say the least. To say the least, it is a quest. Until we find out better we had better follow the Bicycle rules of the road, have decent safety gear and (as large Filipino says, "look tired").