Motorcycle Laws in California

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The law requires motorcyclists in California to follow the same rules that all drivers of regular cars are required to follow. However, the state does have specific laws that only apply to motorcyclists. As in the case of all traffic rules, the rules for motorcycles are designed to protect motorcyclists, as well as other drivers that share the road.

Knowing and adhering to these laws could help in reducing your risk of causing or being involved in a motorcycle accident that may result in severe injuries or death. The following are some of the laws that you should know and follow if you intend to ride a motorcycle on California roads.

Obtaining a Motorcycle License

You must first obtain a motorcyclist learner’s permit before you apply for a license. If you are under the age of 21, you must have a permit for at least six months before you can apply for a license.

To obtain a learner’s permit, an applicant must pass an eye vision exam, skills test, and a rider knowledge test that covers information in the California Motorcycle Handbook. Applicants who are aged 21 must also take and pass a California Motorcyclist Safety Program training course, which is administered by the California Highway Patrol.

Helmet and Other Safety Law Laws

California has several regulations regarding equipment that riders must wear, and equipment that must be on their motorcycles, including the following:

  • Motorcyclists and those riding on motorcycles must always wear helmets. The helmet must meet and satisfy standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Motorcycles must have left and right mirrors.
  • Handlebars may not be more than six inches above the motorcyclist’s shoulder height when one is in a seated position.
  • Motorcycles must have functioning turn signals on both rear and front for motorcycles made after January 1, 1973.
  • For all motorcycles manufactured after 2013, their exhaust systems must comply with the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act.

Lane-Splitting Laws

Lane-splitting is a serious problem that often causes accidents. This is the habit many motorcyclists have of maneuvering between two lanes of traffic so they can avoid getting stuck in stopped or stalled traffic. However, California passed a law legalizing this practice on its roadways, so lane-splitting is legal in the state (it is not legal in any other state).

Carrying Passengers

There is no law in California that restricts the age of passengers who can ride on motorcycles. This means that anyone of any age, even a child, can ride as a passenger on a motorcycle. However, the law requires that passenger seats must be properly and securely fastened to the motorcycle right behind the driver’s seat. Passengers must also have footrests in place, which they must use when the motorcycle is moving.

Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcyclists are required under California law to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance as follows:

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

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, contact a Pomona motorcycle accident attorney to explain your rights.

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