Tune up your car with the law before winter

Speaking From the Bar

Cold weather is on its way and now’s the time to prepare “Ole Beater” for its annual winter adventures. You’ve checked the fan belt, the spark plugs and the oil, but have you checked the legal status of your car? The following are some legal considerations to keep in mind when buying, selling, or operating a motor vehicle in Illinois.

I. Registration. Under Illinois law, it is unlawful for any person to drive or for an owner of a vehicle to permit to be driven upon any highway any vehicle subject to registration which has not been registered. You can thus be ticketed and fined for driving your friend’s car whose registration has expired. Vehicles not subject to registration include certain types of farm equipment, buses propelled by overhead trolley wires and vehicles owned by the federal government. Where registration has been applied for, vehicles can be operated temporarily upon displaying a duplicate application duly verified. Owners who are not residents of Illinois may operate motor vehicles which have been validly registered in another state without registering the vehicle in Illinois.

Upon proper application for registration, the Secretary of State issues a registration card to the owner of the vehicle. It is not an offense to drive a first division vehicle (automobiles, motorcycles) without the registration card with you, however, drivers of second division vehicles (buses, trucks) must be able to display the card upon the demand of the police officer. Registration plates, or “license” plates issued when a vehicle is registered for the first time and periodically thereafter, must be displayed as indicated by law. For motorcycles, trailers or semi_trailers, the plate must be attached to the rear of the vehicle; for all other vehicles the plates must be attached to the front and rear of the vehicle. Registration stickers issued on subsequent annual registration must be affixed to the license plates as required by the Secretary of State.

NOTE: It is the obligation of the owner of a vehicle to notify the Secretary of State of any change of address within 10 days of the date of the change. It is not a defense to the offense of driving with an expired license that one never received a registration renewal notice because one changed his or her address.

II. Drivers licenses. Persons driving motor vehicles on any highway in Illinois must have a valid license or permit or a restricted driving permit issued by the State of Illinois. Among the persons exempt from this requirement are nonresident persons and their spouses and their children who are students at a college or university in Illinois and who have a valid driver’s license issued by their home state. A nonresident who becomes a resident of Illinois has 90 days to apply for an Illinois driver’s license. Any person being issued an Illinois license must surrender to the Secretary of State other valid licenses or permits.

Driver’s licenses are issued pursuant to specific restrictions and classifications. Persons who intend to drive a truck, motorcycle, school bus or religious organization’s bus must obtain a license which authorizes them to drive that particular vehicle.

III. Vehicle use tax. A vehicle use tax is imposed upon the purchase of a used motor vehicle, ranging from $25 for cars over 10 years old to $390 for cars one year old or less, provided the selling price of the motor vehicled is less than $15,000. Motor vehicles worth more than $15,000 are taxed at a higher rate. Sales involving transfers among parents, spouses and children are taxed at a special flat rate of $15. Certain other transactions, including those involving the issuance of a junking certificate, are exempt from the tax altogether. Check with the Secretary of State to determine if you qualify for such an exception.

IV. Auto insurance. Beginning Jan. 1, 1990, no person will be permitted to operate a motor vehicle in Illinois unless the operator and the motor vehicle are covered by liability insurance. Until the new mandatory insurance law takes effect, the provisions of the Financial Responsibility Act remain in force. Under current the Secretary of State will suspend the driving privileges of any uninsured motorist involved in an accident which causes personal or property damage in excess of $250, and for which the Secretary of State has concluded the individual might reasonably be found responsible in a court of law. Upon such a determination by the Secretary of State, the uninsured motorist must do one of the following to avoid having his privileges suspended:

. Secure a release from liability from the other party.

2. Post a bond with the Secretary of State in the full amount of the damages claimed.

3. Enter into an agreement with the other party to pay an agreed amount in installments to cover all of the claims arising out of the accident.

An individual whose driving privileges have been suspended under this section must thereafter provide “proof of finacial responsibility in the future” before his or her privileges will be restored.

Students’ Legal Assistance

Don Henderson

Lynn Richards