Illinois Tow Dolly Laws

By Wilhelm Schnotz
Tow dollies don't need to be licensed in Illinois.

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Whether headed out on a cross-country move or hitching up the car behind your RV for a summer adventure, a tow dolly provides an easy-to-manage and cheap means to move a car across the country without having to drive it. In Illinois, a tow dolly isn't as regulated as a proper trailer, although it must qualify as a dolly rather than a trailer to meet the lowered regulations set forth by the state.

Tow Dolly Defined

Illinois defines a tow dolly as a device designed only as a substitute for wheels of another vehicle. Tow dollies must only lift a pair of wheels of the towed vehicle above the ground, while trailers lift the entire vehicle off the ground. Use a tow-dolly for legally licensed vehicles only, while ATVs, unregistered vehicles and other non-street legal vehicles legally transport atop a trailer.

Licensing and Registration

Because tow dollies merely substitute for wheels on a licensed vehicle, their owners and operators don't need to license them. The Secretary of State's office provides titles after presenting a bill of sale from the previous owner or certificate of origin issued by the manufacturer. Tow dollies do not require licensing in Illinois.

Braking Systems

Illinois does not require tow dollies be equipped with their own, auxiliary braking system unless the towed weight of the vehicle is more than 3,000 pounds. Owners who tow vehicles that weigh more than 5,000 must equip the tow dolly with a braking system that automatically engages upon accidental disconnection of the dolly from the towing vehicle. Tow dolly brakes must be operated by the driver of the towed vehicle simultaneously with those of the towing vehicle's brake system.

Reflectors and Lights

Tow dollies, or the vehicle being towed, must be equipped with rear reflectors able to be seen by other cars' headlights at a distance of 300 feet. If the towed vehicle obscures the towing vehicles' brake lights, it must be equipped with a set of towing lights connected to the towing vehicle's brake system that operates as a substitute for tail lights.

About the Author

Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.

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