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Do I always have to wear a seat belt in Illinois?

It may surprise you to learn that the answer is no. While the safety benefits of seat belts are widely publicized, and Illinois requires the use of seat belts for most drivers and passengers, there are exceptions to the law.

When Seat Belts Are Required—and When They’re Not

Generally, all drivers and passengers are required to wear seat belts. Drivers are required to make sure passengers who are under the age of 16 or who are ill or infirm are buckled up.

However, there are exceptions to this general rule. Specifically, drivers or passengers are not required to wear a safety belt in Illinois if…

  • They are frequently getting in and out of the vehicle and the vehicle does not go above 15 mph.
  • They have a written statement from a doctor that they can’t wear safety belts for medical reasons.
  • They have an official certificate or license endorsement from another state exempting them from wearing a seat belt.
  • The car is going in reverse (applies to drivers only).
  • The car has a model year earlier than 1965.
  • The vehicle is a motorcycle, moped, or other vehicle that is not required to have safety belts pursuant to federal law.
  • They are in the back seat of a taxicab.

Other exceptions also apply for mail carriers and emergency vehicles.

While most drivers and passengers are required to wear seat belts, Illinois law is clear: the failure to wear a seat belt is not evidence of negligence if a crash occurs. You may still be entitled to car accident damages if you’re hurt. However, a small fine may be imposed for failing to wear a safety belt as required by Illinois law.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham