Friday, October 11, 2013
Under certain conditions and only for
purposes of farming, farmers are allowed to operate All-Terrain
Vehicles (ATVs) and Gator-type vehicles of limited size on county
and township roadways. Use on State highways or city streets
is not authorized. Prior to this 2010 law, ATVs had been prohibited
from anything but crossing a public road unless local ordinance
provided further authorization. Non-farm use of ATVs on
public roads is still prohibited. A driver's license is required
for this on-road operation.
ATV - is defined by the Illinois Vehicle Code: -(625 ILCS
5/1-101.8) All-terrain vehicle. Any motorized off-highway
device designed to travel primarily off-highway, 50 inches or less
in width, having a manufacturer's dry weight of 900 pounds or less,
traveling on 3 or more low-pressure tires, designed with a seat or
saddle for operator use, and handlebars or steering wheel for
steering control, except equipment such as lawnmowers.
ROHV - is short for "Recreational Off-Highway Vehi-cle", the
formal name for Gator-type vehicles, which can informally go by a
variety of other names. -(625 ILCS 5/1-168.8) Recreational
off-highway vehicle. Any motorized off-highway device designed to
travel primarily off-highway, 64 inches or less in width, having a
manufacturer's dry weight of 2,000 pounds or less, traveling on 4
or more non-highway tires, de¬signed with a non-straddle seat and a
steering wheel for steering con¬trol, except equipment such as
Off-Highway Motorcycle - can generally be used by farmers as ATVs
are under this law. - (625 ILCS 5/1-153.1) Off-highway
motorcycle. Any motorized device designed to travel primarily
off-highway on 2 wheels, having a seat or saddle for the use of the
operator, upon or by which any person, persons or property may be
transported or drawn.
Neighborhood Vehicles - can have highway access- though more
limited-if locally authorized. -(625 ILCS 5/1-148.3m)
Neighborhood vehicle. A self-propelled, electric-powered,
four-wheeled motor vehicle (or a self-propelled, gaso-line-powered,
four-wheeled motor vehicle with an engine displacement under 1,200
cubic centimeters) that is capable of attaining in one mile a speed
of more than 20 miles per hour, but not more than 25 miles per
hour, and which does not conform to federal regulations under Title
49 C.F.R. Part 571.500.
Vehicles known as "Neighborhood Vehicles" (generally,
golf carts) can-under certain conditions-be authorized by local
jurisdictions to be operated on some roads where posted speed
limits are 35 mph or less.
625 ILCS 5/1-148.3m
Generally, ATVs purchased on or after January 1,1998 are required
to be titled; there is no known requirement for registration in
Illinois law requires ATVs and ROHVs to be insured for on-road use
if they will be used in that manner. Either a highway motor
vehicle insurance policy meeting the minimum levels of coverage
under Illinois' mandatory vehicle insurance requirements or
equivalent levels of coverage under a farm, home, or non-highway
vehicle insurance policy is required. Talk with your insurance
agent for specifics.
Illinois law requires the operators of such vehicles on the road
hold a valid driver's license. This effectively sets a
minimum age for drivers, as well.
What does the State consider to be an ATV?
That definition is spelled out in the Illinois Vehicle Code. It
narrowly describes only a certain type of vehicle based on size,
weight and configuration. It excludes others that the public
might normally think of as ATVs, so be cautious as to how broadly
you apply the ATV moniker. For specifics, see the definition
of "all-terrain vehicle" on the first page of this document.
Are other off-road vehicles allowed the same
The limited public road use allowance in the statute also applies
to off-highway motorcycles. The Illinois Vehicle Code's definition
of an off highway motorcycle is:
(625 ILCS 5/1-153.1) Off highway motorcycle. Any
motorized device designed to travel primarily off-highway on 2
wheels, having a seat or saddle for the use of the operator, upon
or by which any person, persons or property may be transported or
drawn. (Source: P.A. 85 830.)
Does this apply to vehicles such as the John Deere Gator
or the Kubota RTV900?
Yes. The law applies the same on-road privileges to such
cargo-hauling off-road vehicles-known by various names-up to 64"
wide and up to 2,000# when being used for farming. Despite
their utilitarian capability, this leg-islation calls these
contrivances "Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles" (ROHV.)
The statutory language refers to "Roadway"-what's
Generally it refers to travel portion of the road, the area that
is paved (other than shoulders.) The Illinois Vehicle Code's
definition of "Roadway" is: (625 ILCS 5/1-179) Roadway. That
portion of a highway im-proved, designed or ordinarily used for
vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder. In the event a
highway includes two or more separate roadways the term "roadway"
as used herein shall refer to any such roadway separately but not
to all such roadways collectively. (Source:
Should an SMV emblem be displayed on the back of an
Generally, the use of an SMV emblem in Illinois is not based on
the speed of the vehicle; instead it is limited to four vehicle
• Implements of husbandry;
• Special mobile equipment (operating outside of construction
• Animal-drawn vehicles; and,
• Neighborhood vehicles.
Since the ATV does not meet any of those definitions, it is
unlikely that the SMV emblem is required/allowed- though a formal
judicial opinion has yet to be issued.
If used like a farm tractor, can an ATV be op-erated on
public roads like a farm tractor can be?
No. The Illinois Vehicle Code specifies that an ATV is not
considered to be a farm tractor. That distinction is found in
the law's definition of a farm tractor:
(625 ILCS 5/1-120) Farm tractor. Every motor vehicle designed
and used primarily as a farm implement for drawing wagons, plows,
mowing machines and other implements of husbandry, and every
imple¬ment of husbandry which is self propelled, excluding
all-terrain vehicles and off-highway motorcycles as defined in this
From the practical perspective, this means that an ATV may not
be operated on a state highway or city street as though it was a
Local governments may authorize the operation of certain
non-highway vehicles on roadways under its jurisdic¬tion if they
deem it safe to do so. They must post signs along the route
indicating that authorization.
Download a PDF of this information below.
For More Info Contact:
Trespass, Vandalism, and Private Land Access
Complete ATV Statute
"ATVs on Public Roads for Illinois Farmers"
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