Out on the roads

Jennifer Simmons
Posted 8/25/20

The use of non-highway vehicles within the corporate limits of the City of Rochelle was approved by Rochelle City Council Monday night. The new ordinance was adopted to allow for residents to permit the non-highway vehicles; however, certain provisions must be followed.

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Out on the roads


ROCHELLE — The use of non-highway vehicles within the corporate limits of the City of Rochelle was approved by Rochelle City Council Monday night. The new ordinance was adopted to allow for residents to permit the non-highway vehicles; however, certain provisions must be followed.

Some of the provisions include a minimum speed of 15 m.p.h. and maximum speed of 25 m.p.h., four wheels, and does not include vehicles operated by a driver straddling the apparatus (such as an ATV).

Guidelines are also outlined in the ordinance including allowable hours of operation, proof of driver’s license and insurance and roadways which vehicles are not allowed to operate on.

According to the ordinance, permitted vehicles will be allowed to operate Sunday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to midnight. 

Streets where operation is not permissible include:

Illinois Route 251

Illinois Route 38

Interstate 39

Caron Road 

Veteran’s Parkway

20th Street

Flagg Road

Steward Road

Dement Road

An exception to operation on these streets, in the ordinance, states “It is not prohibited to cross an excluded street with a speed limit posted of 35 m.p.h. or less. Crossing must take place at a designated intersection, at a 90 degree angle, providing no obstruction exists. The non-highway vehicle must come to a complete stop and yield to all oncoming traffic before crossing such roadway.”

Other restrictions include non-highway vehicles not permitted on private property or park district property such as the bike path; not permitted on sidewalks; and all non-highway vehicles operated within corporate limits of the city must have brakes, a steering apparatus, four tires, a rear-view mirror, red reflectorized warning devices in the front and rear, slow moving emblem on the rear, a tail-lamp that emits a red light visible from at least 100 feet from the rear, brake lights, turn signals, head light that emits a white light visible 500 feet from the front and a seat belt for each occupant.

During discussion prior to adoption of the ordinance Monday night, council members Dan McDermott and Bil Hayes raised questions.

“Will there be an inspection point when stickers are issued,” council member Dan McDermott asked.

“There will not,” Jennifer Thompson responded. “So, this will be similar to obtaining a registration for your automobile. When they come in to obtain the sticker they [applicant] will have to sign off on the various requirements agreeing that they have each item on their vehicle.”

Council member Hayes’ question dealt with safety concerns and liability over the proposal.

“16-year-olds will be able to drive up until midnight on the weekends, on regular streets, not on highways?” Hayes asked.

“That is correct,” Thompson said.

“Is there an age limit on the passengers?” Hayes asked further.

“Since the driver is subject to the rules of the Illinois vehicle code they would have to abide by the same rules as for motor vehicles. So if that means the 16-year-old is only allowed one passenger or they are allowed two passengers – whatever that may be – they have to follow that same motor vehicle code,” Thompson explained.

“But the state code doesn’t allow for these vehicles to be on the street, we have to change that in our municipal code. The state doesn’t allow it,” Hayes clarified.

“The state allows a municipality to make the determination,” Thompson verified.

“So we take on the liability if someone was to get hurt,” Hayes said. “I don’t want anybody to get hurt. Nor do I want the taxpayer to have to pay any litigation involved if somebody did get hurt. But the main thing is I don’t want anybody to get hurt.”

In order to clarify Hayes’ concerns, City of Rochelle Attorney Dominick Lanzito addressed the council.

“With respect to liability there are provisions in the Torte Immunity Act that give this council and the city which is known as legislative immunity,” Lanzito said. “By following the protocols and looking at what streets and analyzing which streets should and should not be used for this type of process… I mean there’s no guarantee that someone’s not going to get hurt or someone’s not going to make a misrepresentation on their affidavit or application, [it’s] no different than if someone was driving without a license gets into a car accident without the appropriate insurance… But from a legal standpoint you’re dealing with various provisions and the code allowed for this I think is based on factors that have been analyzed by staff.”

Hayes still expressed his concern about passing the ordinance.

“That answers my question to a certain extent… I’m still not comfortable with the likliehood of the people that vote to change the state law to allow for it to happen in our community taking on the opportunity for someone to get hurt. Once we sign off on it, we’re responsible if someone gets hurt,” Hayes said.

Council members voted 6-1, with Hayes being the only nah vote, and passed the ordinance.


Residents can begin permitting non-highway vehicles Sept. 1 at the Rochelle Police Department. Cost for permits are $75 for the first-time applicant. Renewal permits will cost $50 annually. The cost of a senior citizen’s application or renewal will be $35. Annual permit fees will not be pro-rated.

All registered/permitted vehicles must display a current permit sticker at all times. Every application for permit will include name and address of applicant, name of liability insurance carrier, valid driver’s license number, serial number, make, model and description of the non-highway vehicle, a signed waiver of liability releasing the city and agreement to indemnify and hold the city harmless from any and all future claims resulting from operation of a non-highway vehicle on city streets and a copy applicable liability insurance coverage specifically for the vehicle covered by the permit.