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Motor Vehicles

Registration and licensing requirements

State laws vary when it comes to motor vehicle insurance requirements, licensing and registration. The term vehicle generally includes automobiles, motorcycles, vans, trailers and boats regularly parked or garaged overnight. Service members and their families will want to understand their state’s laws on registration and licensing before moving to a new state. Visit the USA.gov Motor Vehicle Services page for links to state-specific websites.

Motor vehicle laws

State and local laws regulate the operation of motor vehicles, and these laws can vary by location. Many states regulate the following:

  • Seatbelt use
  • Child safety seats
  • Motorcycle operation
  • The use of cellphones and other digital devices while driving

Learn more about motor vehicle laws in your state at the Distraction.gov State Laws page.

Installation Specific Information

Registration & Licensing Requirements

Illinois State law requires you to have sufficient liability insurance and a valid driver’s license in order to operate a vehicle. The term “vehicle” generally includes automobiles, motorcycles, vans, trailers and boats regularly parked or garaged overnight. Further, your vehicle must be properly registered. Even though you are in the Military, you may be required to register your vehicle in-state and obtain an in-state license within a few months of moving. Access complete information on insurance, driver’s licensing, and where and how to register your vehicle by visiting the State Department of Motor Vehicles website.

State Laws

You and your passengers must always wear seatbelts while driving; you will be ticketed and issued heavy fines if seatbelts are not secured. State law requires that all children under 7 years of age be properly restrained in child seats. Some states also require younger, smaller children to sit in the back seat.

Motorcycles and their operators are subject to special laws. If you own and operate a motorcycle, you must comply with those laws. Visit the State Department of Motor Vehicles website for more information.

Many States and local jurisdictions have strict laws about the use of cell phones and other digital devices while driving. Research these laws on the State Department of Motor Vehicles website. Tickets will be issued and fines assessed for violating these laws. Play it safe and always use a “hands free” device if you must use a cell phone or other PDA while driving. Hands-free devices must be used while operating a motor vehicle on ALL military installations worldwide.

Illinois Driver's License

If you are under the age of 18 years, you must have passed an approved driver education course and have written consent of either a parent or legal guardian.

Sometimes you may drive in Illinois without a valid Illinois driver's license. You are exempt if you:

  • Move to Illinois and have a valid driver's license from your home state or country. You may drive with that license for 90 days.
  • Do not live in Illinois, but are driving in Illinois. You must have a valid driver's license from your home state or country.
  • Are an out-of-state student at a college or university. You may drive with a valid license from your home state or country. This also applies to your spouse and children.
  • Are on active duty for the Armed Forces outside the United States but are a legal resident of Illinois. You may drive the first 90 days of your return without any license.
  • Are employed by the U.S. government or are a member of the Armed Forces. You do not need a valid Illinois license if you are on official business and driving a vehicle owned by or leased to the government. However, DOD regulations require a valid state drivers' license to operate government owned vehicles.

Registering Vehicles on Base

The following information is required to register your privately owned vehicle (POV) on base:

  • a valid driver's license
  • up-to-date vehicle insurance
  • a vehicle registration (no titles)
  • military ID card
  • If the car is registered to another person, you will need to bring in a letter from them stating that you can drive that car.

You must maintain minimum Illinois vehicle insurance coverage to drive on base as follows:

  • $20,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person
  • $40,000 for bodily injury to or death of all persons as a result of any one accident
  • $15,000 for damage to property of others as result of any one accident

Base Regulations

Vehicle Checks -- Seat belts are mandatory for all occupants of any motor vehicle operated on board the base. In the state of Illinois, if you are age 16 or more and are in the back seat with a driver age 18 or older, a seat belt is not required. In addition, children under 8 years of age or under 40 pounds must be properly secured in a federally approved car seat.

Children under the age of eight years must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system, more commonly called a child safety seat. Child safety seats include infant seats, convertible seats (rear-facing for infants and forward-facing for toddlers) and booster seats that are used with the vehicle lap and shoulder belt system. 

Children weighing more than 40 pounds may be transported in the back seat of a motor vehicle while wearing only a lap belt if the back seat is not equipped with a lap and shoulder belt system.

Alcohol -- It is unlawful to transport any open receptacle containing any amount of alcohol in a motor vehicle, except in the trunk or in some other area out of the immediate control of the occupants. A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle with a BAC of 0.05 but less than 0.08 (base). Under the age of 21, alcohol is not tolerated.

Bicycles -- When riding bicycles on base or out in town, all riders shall wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet and orange vest with reflective tape.

Window Tinting -- Window tinting laws for the state: Tint must be from the factory. You can not tint the windows yourself. Windshield and front seat window tinting is prohibited in Illinois. Vehicles licensed in other states must comply with the laws of those states.

License Plates -- The State of Illinois requires you to display both license plates, one on the front and one on the rear. License plates are not authorized for display in either the front or rear windows. License plate covers are prohibited.


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