California Motorcycle Laws

Being a motorcyclist in Southern California is a thrilling experience, especially with the region’s beautiful scenery and mild year-round climate. The flip side to this is that riding a motorcycle can be very dangerous. That’s why it’s important to know the various California motorcycle laws, which range from requiring proper licensing and equipment to obeying various traffic laws and regulations. Motorcyclists are expected to follow the same rules as every other motorist.

California Motorcycle License Requirements

The primary legal requirements include having the proper driver’s license. If you’re over age 21, you must take either a motorcycle rider training course or a motorcycle driving test. You then need to pass a skill test, knowledge test, and vision exam to receive your motorcycle license. Riders under age 21 must obtain a learner’s permit and have it for at least six months (permits are valid for 1 year) before they are eligible for a driver’s license. In California, it is illegal to drive on the freeway, ride at night, or carry passengers when you have a permit.

You must also obtain a vehicle registration for your motorcycle with the California DMV. State law sets minimum requirements for liability insurance coverage as well. If you don’t have an insurance policy, your license can be suspended for one year. Even worse, if you’re in an accident while being uninsured, you may be ineligible to recover pain and suffering damages.

California Lane Splitting Law

Unlike any other state, California permits lane splitting. Since 2016, motorcyclists who pass between two traffic lanes to pass other vehicles are not breaking the law. However, there are various requirements to consider. For example, the law prohibits riders from driving at 10 miles per hour more than surrounding traffic, lane splitting at speeds of greater than 30 miles per hour, or riding in the shoulder lane. The state also recommends riders don’t lane split around commercial trucks and other large vehicles.

When lane splitting, watch your speed and be aware of your blind spots and those of other drivers. Don’t assume every motorist can see you. In addition, California does not restrict lane sharing (when two riders travel side-by-side in a single lane).

Motorcycle Safety Equipment Laws

The California Vehicle Code requires motorcycle safety equipment to be used at all times, including

  • Helmets: Motorcycle drivers must always wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant helmet. Helmets dramatically reduce the frequency and severity of head injuries.
  • Side Mirrors: Required on the right and left side, they must provide a view of at least 200 feet to the rear of the vehicle on a highway.
  • Handlebars: Handlebars must be placed so that the driver’s hands are no higher than six inches above their shoulder height while seated on the motorcycle.
  • Turn Signals: Must be operational and installed on the front and rear of the vehicle.

If you fail to have the right equipment, you could be ticketed and receive stiff fines and penalties from agencies such as the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

What to Do You If You Are in a Motorcycle Accident

According to the CHP, there were nearly 17,000 collisions involving motorcycles in 2018, with 480 people killed. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash data from 2016 revealed motorcycle deaths occur 28 times more frequently than other vehicle fatalities.

If you are in a motorcycle accident, get other drivers’ information, gather details of the scene, and contact the police, your insurance company, and medical services.

An at-fault driver may be held legally responsible for losses like vehicle damage or a victim’s medical treatment or lost wages. This is why it’s critical to have a California motorcycle accident lawyer on your side to prove your innocence and get the compensation you deserve.

Contact The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani

We are a Los Angeles personal injury law firm that specializes in motorcycle accident law. Our firm has won large settlements for clients who have experienced motorcycle injuries and accidents. A motorcycle injury lawyer can gather the appropriate information and fight for your rights when it comes to dealing with insurance companies. Call us at (888) 952-2952 for an attorney to review your claim and provide proper legal representation. We are open during the coronavirus pandemic.

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southern california


714 W. Olympic Blvd.
Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90015


Our Main Location

Los Angeles

serving southern california


714 W. Olympic Blvd.
Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90015


(888) 508-5085