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M-less in Illinois?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Motorcycles American Government

M-less in Illinois?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
July 10, 2010

Several years ago I taught the AARP Driver Safety Program, which is an 8-hour classroom refresher course for seniors. Each class had 15-20 seniors in it - some as old as 90 years of age and still driving.

Many of them were very concerned about not being able to renew their driver's license at some time in the future. I told them the story about a woman of advancing age in one McHenry County community who rear-ended a car one morning, backed up, drove home and parked her car in the garage. When the cops showed up, she was sure nothing was wrong with her car.

The family was trying to persuade the mental health physician to notify the State to yank her driver's license, and I told them, "She doesn't need a driver's license to drive a car; she needs a car! Get rid of the car." They did.

To operate a motorcycle legally in Illinois, the driver (operator) needs an "M" endorsement on the driver's license. There are a couple of ways to get it, but you are supposed to have it. If you don't have it, you cannot legally operate a motorcycle on Illinois roads and highways.

To say it another way, if you operate a motorcycle on an Illinois highway without an M-endorsement, you are operating without a license. Your driver's license (without the M) doesn't qualify.

Let's say you wreck the motorcycle and don't have the M-endorsement. Should you get a ticket for no valid license? But the bigger question is, should the officer (or deputy) investigating the accident issue a ticket if the operator is unlicensed?

Is there any answer except "Yes"?

A McHenry County Sheriff's Department deputy stopped a car on U.S. 14 in June and issued the driver a ticket for driving unlicensed. The driver had a California driver's license, which had expired last November. Therefore, that driver had no valid driver's license. For that she received a "Must Appear" ticket and will face off with a judge in Traffic Court in about ten days.

Was she allowed to drive away after being issued the ticket for no D/L? If there was no other licensed driver in the car, she should have been required to park the car until a licensed driver could arrive to drive it. And no other ticket was issued. What was the reason for the traffic stop in the first place? Without a second ticket, will the driver claim that there is no proof of probable cause for the traffic stop and get the judge to toss the ticket for driving without a license?

Interesting enough that same driver got a ticket for a seatbelt violation in Woodstock last November. She presented her California driver's license, which had expired eight days earlier in 2009. However, she got only the seatbelt ticket and no ticket for the expired D/L.

And, even more interesting, is the ticket she got a year earlier for speeding. When she presented her California driver's license that time, it had a 2008 expiration date. How could the California license have a 2008 expiration date, and then a year later have a 2009 expiration date?

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