Motorcycle Laws in California

motorcycle ride in afternoonMotorcyclists in California must follow the same laws that apply to drivers of standard passenger vehicles. The state also has specific laws that apply only to motorcyclists. These rules are meant to protect motorcyclists, as well as others that share the road.

Knowing and following these laws could help reduce your risk of an accident that could cause severe injuries or death.

If you are injured in a crash, a Sacramento motorcycle accident lawyer from the Arnold Law Firm will fight to hold negligent motorists responsible for your injuries. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.

Requirements for Obtaining a Motorcycle License

California requires all motorcyclists to obtain a learner's permit before applying for a license. Riders who are under the age of 21 must hold a permit for at least six months before they can apply for a license.

All learner's permit applicants must pass a vision exam, skills test and a knowledge test that covers information found in the California Motorcycle Handbook. Applicants under the age of 21 must also pass a California Motorcyclist Safety Program training course administered by the California Highway Patrol.

Permits are valid for 12 months after they are issued, and they prohibit drivers from doing any of the following:

  • Carrying passengers
  • Driving on the freeway
  • Driving at night

Helmet and Other Safety Equipment Laws

California has numerous regulations on equipment riders must wear and equipment that must be on their motorcycles:

  • California Vehicle Code (CVC) 27803 requires motorcycle drivers and riders to wear helmets at all times. The helmet must be in compliance with standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Motorcycles must be equipped with right and left mirrors, per CVC 26709.
  • Handlebars may not be installed in such a position that puts the driver’s hands more than six inches above his or her shoulder height as he or she is sitting on the seat, according to CVC 27801.
  • Working turn signals, both front and rear, are required for all motorcycles built and first registered on January 1, 1973, or later.
  • For motorcycles and exhaust systems manufactured from 2013 on, exhaust systems must be compliant with the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act.

Lane Splitting and Lane Sharing

Lane splitting, occurs when a motorcyclist maneuvers between two lanes of traffic to get around vehicles. In 2016, California passed a law legalizing this practice on the states roadways.

California has some laws that could help protect riders when they are lane splitting. CVC 22400 prohibits motorists from driving at a speed that is so slow it impedes or blocks the normal or reasonable movement of traffic, unless it is necessary for safety. CVC 22517 makes it illegal for motorists to open or leave open vehicle doors unless it is reasonably safe to do so and will not interfere with the movement of traffic.

California does not have a specific restriction against lane sharing, which occurs when two motorcyclists ride side-by-side in a single lane of traffic.

Carrying Passengers

California has no law setting an age restriction for passengers on motorcycles. This means that people of any age may ride a motorcycle as a passenger. However, California law says that passenger seats must be securely fastened to the motorcycle behind the driver’s seat. Passengers must have footrests in place, which must be used while the motorcycle is in motion.

Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

Motorcyclists are required to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance:

  • $5,000 for property damage
  • $15,000 for bodily injury to an individual
  • $30,000 for bodily injuries to multiple victims

In California, if a motorcyclist is involved in an accident and does not carry the minimum amounts of insurance coverage, he or she may face a one-year driver’s license suspension.

Contact Our Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

The Sacramento motorcycle accident lawyers of the Arnold Law Firm work to secure the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We will gather the evidence needed to prove your injuries were caused by another party’s negligence and fight to hold negligent motorists accountable for the harm they have caused you.

Learn the legal options available to you by scheduling a free, no-obligation consultation with an injury lawyer from our law firm today. Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis and only get paid if we help you recover compensation.

Call (916) 777-7777 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form now.