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Keep On Truckin’

Q:  Do I risk getting a ticket if I drive my pickup truck on Lake Shore Drive?


Most Chicago residents have heard the anecdotal horror stories of the friend-of-a-friend who got a $#00 traffic ticket for driving his pickup on Lake Shore.  But that can’t be true, right?  Pickup trucks are no larger or heavier than their legal SUV counterparts.  And even with fuel prices climbing, many still use a pickup as their daily driver.  This all seems a little nonsensical.  So what’s the real story?  Chiblogo investigates.

Often referenced in this debate is the Municipal Code of Chicago, section 9-72-020, which states:

“It shall be unlawful to operate any vehicle upon any boulevard (a) when such vehicle is used for carrying freight or other goods and merchandise for commercial purposes, (b) when such vehicle is designed primarily for carrying freight or other goods and merchandise, and (c) when such vehicle is used for carrying freight or other goods and merchandise on the outside of the vehicle….”

So no pickup trucks allowed on boulevards, as pickups are clearly designed for carrying freight, goods and merchandise.  But is Lake Shore Drive considered a “boulevard”?

Well, it is called Lake Shore Drive, not Lake Shore Boulevard… but perhaps that argument is a little shaky.  Thankfully, the Municipal Code specifically lists Chicago’s Primary Boulevards in section 17-17-02124.  Lake Shore Drive does not appear on that list.

So assuming Lake Shore Drive is not considered a boulevard, your pickup truck looks to be in good shape.  Perhaps, however, there is another ordinance that applies.

In fact, the very next section of the Municipal Code, 9-72-030 (b), states:

“Whenever official signs are erected prohibiting the use of any street or part of a street by trucks or other commercial vehicles or imposing weight and size limitations upon such vehicles using the street, no person shall drive a truck or other commercial vehicle in violation of any such signs….”

Lake Shore Drive does indeed display signs that state, “No Trucks.”   The Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/1‑211) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 1‑211) defines “truck” as, “Every motor vehicle designed, used, or maintained primarily for the transportation of property.”  By this definition, a pickup truck is included.   However, the ordinance specifically states, “truck or other commercial vehicle” [emphasis added].

Semantically speaking, the use of the word “other” implies that the truck must be considered a commercial vehicle if this prohibition is to apply.  Otherwise, it would simply read, “truck or commercial vehicle.”  The question then becomes:  Is your pickup truck considered a commercial vehicle?

Back to the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/1‑111.8 ) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 1‑114), which defines “commercial vehicle” as, “Any vehicle operated for the transportation of persons or property in the furtherance of any commercial or industrial enterprise….”  So by definition, your average, commuter pickup truck is not considered a commercial vehicle.

Therefore, it appears that the person who drives his pickup for personal use has the legal right to operate on Lake Shore Drive.

But more importantly, will you get a ticket?  Ummm, that’s another story.

Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed herein are solely the views of the author, and are not intended as legal advice or counsel.



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