Articles Posted in E-bike

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It goes without saying that in Illinois you must have a valid driver’s license to drive a vehicle. As such, if your license has been suspended or revoked, you cannot operate a motor vehicle. While you cannot drive a car without a license, you can drive a low-speed electric bicycle, as it is excluded from the definition of “motor vehicle” under the Illinois Vehicle Code. Due to an increase in popularity in low-speed bicycles and the lack of statutory regulations regarding their operation, the Illinois General Assembly recently passed laws clarifying the obligations imposed on owners of low-speed bicycles.

Electric and gas low-speed bicycles are perceived differently under the eyes of the law. To be defined as a low-speed electric bicycle, the bicycle must have fully functional pedals and an electric motor that is less than 750 watts. Low speed electric bicycles are classified into three groups: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3.

The motor in a Class 1 bicycle only provides the rider with assistance if the rider is pedaling and stops providing assistance when the bicycle reaches 20 mph. If the rider is not pedaling or the bicycle reaches 20 mph, the motor is deactivated.

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The Illinois DUI law provides, in part: “(a) A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle within this State while [under the influence].” The driving while license suspended or revoked (DWLSR) statute includes the following language:  “(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (a-5), any person who drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on any highway of this State at a time when such person’s driver’s license [is suspended or revoked… shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor].” Senate Bill 0396, which was passed in both chambers and was signed into law over the summer, amended the Illinois Vehicle Code (“IVC”) to change the definition of “low-speed electric bicycle.”

The IVC defines a “vehicle” as follows:  “Every device, in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway or requiring a certificate of title under Section 3-101(d) of this Code, except devices moved by human power, devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks and snowmobiles as defined in the Snowmobile Registration and Safety Act.”

The IVC defines a “motor vehicle” as:  “Every vehicle which is self-propelled and every vehicle which is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails, except for vehicles moved solely by human power, motorized wheelchairs, low-speed electric bicycles, and low-speed gas bicycles.”