Texas Motorcycle Laws
Trying to learn more about Texas motorcycle laws? Keep reading. If you own a motorcycle, you must be aware of Texas motorcycle laws to be sure you are riding legally. There are many laws around licensing, equipment, and safety, which can be difficult to keep track of. Motorcycles, like other vehicles, must have the same basic mechanical features such as brakes, head and taillights, and reflectors. Users must have a valid license and the motorcycle must be registered. If you break the law pertaining to these, you may risk fines or even losing your license. We will explain in detail what you need to know below.
Class M License in Texas
Do you need a motorcycle license in Texas? If you want to ride a motorcycle in Texas legally, you will need a valid motorcycle license, which is its own specific class of driver’s license. You need a class M license, which will also include mopeds. You will also need to meet the requirements necessary to obtain a regular driver’s license. To get this license, you must report to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and take a motorcycle safety course, followed by a written and driving test. Here are a few common questions pertaining to Class M licensing:
- How long is a Motorcycle Safety Course completion certificate valid?
The certificate is valid for 24 months from the issuance date.
- Have a valid motorcycle license from another state?
DPS will waive the motorcycle safety course requirement.
- Are you a minor wishing to get your Class M license?
You can. First, you must be at least 15 years of age and have a Class C learner license while having completed 32 hours of classroom education. You may also be restricted as to the size of the bike you can operate, known as an “I” restriction. The size restriction can be removed on your 16th. For more information, take a look at the DPS website.
Texas Registration And Inspection For Motorcycles
As with any vehicle in Texas, motorcycles and mopeds must be registered through the County Tax-Assessor Collector in their county. Once the vehicle is registered, the motorcycle or moped must have a visible and valid registration sticker attached to the license plate. A registration sticker will display your license plate number, county of registration, and partial vehicle identification number. This helps to protect you against theft and fraud. A vehicle must pass inspection before it can be registered. Registration is generally good for one year from the month of inspection.
Texas Motorcycle License Plate Laws
The most important requirement is that all motorcycles must have a valid license plate at all times. They are not allowed to operate without one. All plates must be displayed on the rear of the motorcycle. Motorcycles registered in Texas may either display a regular passenger vehicle plate or an official “Motorcycle” plate. To obtain a Motorcycle plate, the owner needs to contact their county tax assessor-collector’s office and present proof of ownership, current insurance, and payment of applicable fees.
In addition to displaying a valid plate, it is illegal to add anything covering the plate, including plastic covers or frames. Doing so can result in a fine of up to $200. Furthermore, if changes are made to the motorcycle that alters its shape or size, the driver must surrender their existing license plate and obtain a new one from the DMV. This ensures that the bike is registered correctly in the state records.
Insurance For Motorcycles
As with all drivers, the State of Texas requires that all motorcyclists and moped drivers carry insurance. A motorcyclist must be able to prove financial responsibility for any accidents they may cause. How much insurance does Texas require? The minimum is $30,000.00 for each injured person and $60,000.00 per accident. The property damage requirements are also the minimum, which is $25,000.00. This is known as 30/60/25 coverage.
Texas Helmet Laws
The Helmet law in Texas is simple. If you are under 21 years old, you must wear a helmet. If you are over 21, a helmet is optional if you complete a DPS-approved Motorcycle Operator Training Course or are covered with at least $10,000.00 in medical insurance. If covered with at least $10,000.00 in medical insurance, you must carry a card or certificate containing the insurer’s name, insurance policy number, and policy period. It is important to note that this is different from the minimum coverage required discussed above, as that only applies to injuries you may cause to another.
What type of helmet should you have? A helmet that meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218. Helmets that meet these standards have a DOT sticker on them. It is always recommended that you wear a helmet, regardless of if you meet the exemptions. You are five times more likely to experience a serious injury if you opt out of wearing a helmet, and most motorcycle fatalities are due to head injuries. Helmets also protect you from flying objects, which can cause you to lose control of your motorcycle.
Eye Protection, Face Protection, And Protective Clothing
The State of Texas does not require any other specific safety gear except for helmets, as discussed above. However, some safety gear is strongly recommended and can help protect you and the most vulnerable parts of your body when riding a motorcycle.
Eye protection, such as eyeglasses that have shatterproof lenses, or goggles can seal out wind and help protect your eyes. Wind can cause your eyes to water, which can decrease your visibility.
Face protection is also recommended because it can be quite easy to get hit in the face when you ride a motorcycle. Other vehicles on the roadway can pick up stones or rocks on the road and send them your way. If these hit you in the face this can cause injury to you. Those who wear a face shield while they ride are at a lower risk of injury. It is easiest for your face shield to be included as an extension of your helmet.
Protective clothing has many uses. It can prevent sunburn, keep you warm in the cold, and protect you from windburn and dehydration. This clothing also can help reduce road rash and minimize the risk of cuts and burns that occur on your bike. Long sleeves and pants are recommended. Shoes without laces may prevent your laces from getting tangled while you ride. Gloves help provide grip and are highly recommended.
Texas law requires the following equipment on Motorcycles (you’ll need these to pass your annual vehicle inspection):
- Tail lamp
- Stop Lamp
- License Plate Lamp
- Rear Red Reflector
- Vehicle Identification Number
- Wheel Assembly
- Exhaust system
As it pertains to your exhaust system, some states place restrictions on exhaust and muffler decibels for sound concerns, but Texas does not.
Motorcycle Operation Laws
Passengers on a motorcycle must be at least five years old. Passengers under the age of 21 must wear a helmet. If the passenger is over 21 then the motorcycle operator must have passed an approved safety course if the passenger wants to ride without a helmet. A passenger cannot be on a motorcycle unless the motorcycle is equipped with a permanent passenger seat.
Texas Motorcycle Lane Splitting
Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between lanes or rows of slow-moving or stopped traffic moving in the same direction. This may be referred to as “white lining” or “stripe-riding.” This is currently illegal in the State of Texas.
Some states permit lane splitting, and some studies have demonstrated that when motorcyclists engage in safe lane splitting, they are less likely to be rear-ended, suffer a head injury, or be involved in a fatal crash. Other benefits could include a reduction in motorcyclist fatigue from constant shifting and braking, a lessening of the risk of engine damage for air-cooled engines, and a reduction in motorcyclists’ exposure to ambient heat in the summer and car exhaust. The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) currently endorses lane splitting and works with groups to bring legal lane splitting to their states.
Motorcyclists engage in lane splitting to navigate heavy traffic more efficiently, but its safety and efficacy depend upon various factors. These include the functioning of traffic infrastructure, driver behaviors, and the rider’s skill level and experience. Consequently, for any local government to make an informed decision about legalizing or regulating lane splitting, it is essential that these considerations be taken into account and weighed against the peculiarities of that particular area. Here are some of the pros and cons of motorcycle lane-splitting laws:
- Reduces traffic congestion: Lane splitting can help alleviate traffic congestion by allowing motorcycles to move through traffic more quickly, reducing the number of vehicles on the road, and easing congestion.
- Increased safety: When lane splitting is legal and done safely, it can actually be safer for motorcyclists. Lane splitting can help reduce the risk of rear-end collisions, as motorcycles are not stuck in traffic and are more visible to other drivers.
- Saves time: Lane splitting can save time for motorcyclists, reducing their commute times and making it easier to get to their destinations.
- Increased risk of accidents: Lane splitting can increase the risk of accidents, especially if it is done at high speeds or recklessly. Drivers may not expect a motorcycle to be coming up alongside them and may not see the motorcycle until it is too late to avoid a collision.
- Confusion: In states where lane splitting is not specifically legal, it can lead to confusion among motorcyclists and other drivers about what is legal and safe.
- Legal issues: If an accident occurs while lane splitting, it can be difficult to determine who was at fault and whether the motorcyclist was acting within the law.
Motorcycle Parking Laws
Motorcyclists are subject to the same laws as regular vehicles. Texas State law provides that it is a Class C Misdemeanor (up to a $500.00 fine) for a person to park, stand, or stop a vehicle in a disabled person parking space (as well as the striped areas near these spaces). If you park in a disabled spot, you must have a disabled license plate or state-issued removable windshield identification card. You are also prohibited from parking anywhere that may block an access or curb ramp as well as from parking on a sidewalk.
FAQs on Texas Motorcycle Laws
Can you ride a motorcycle without a license in Texas?
No, it is illegal for anyone to operate a motorcycle in Texas without the appropriate driver’s license or permit. Public roads are off-limits to those unlicensed riders except when supervised by an appropriately licensed adult.
Does Texas have a no-chase policy for motorcycles?
Yes, in order to ensure the safety of all involved, law enforcement officers in Texas must adhere to specific procedural protocols when pursuing a motorcyclist. Before initiating a pursuit, officers must have reasonable grounds to believe that the rider has committed a major infraction such as a felony or violent offense. Ensuring every pursuit is based on substantial evidence helps protect both officers and citizens from harm while also promoting accountability within the justice system.
Does Texas have a dead red law for motorcycles?
Yes, Texas has implemented a dead-red law (Texas Transportation Code § 544.007) that requires all drivers, including motorcycle operators, to yield to traffic control devices that have gone dark due to power outages. These drivers must also use due care and caution when navigating around inactive traffic signals.
Why do bikers split at red lights?
Lane splitting, or riding between two lanes of traffic, is illegal in Texas. Some inexperienced motorcyclists may mistakenly believe that splitting lanes will help them avoid getting stuck at red lights. However, lane splitting can be quite dangerous and should be avoided.
Why is lane splitting illegal in Texas?
Lane splitting is illegal in Texas because it poses a significant safety risk for both drivers and motorcyclists. By splitting lanes, motorcyclists would be putting themselves directly into the path of oncoming traffic and potentially causing serious accidents.
What happens if you get pulled over without a motorcycle license in Texas?
If you are pulled over while operating a motorcycle without the proper license, you could face fines, jail time, and/or the suspension of your driving privileges. It is important to follow the law and make sure you are properly licensed before you get behind the wheel of a motorcycle.
Can motorcycles cut traffic in Texas?
No, cutting traffic by driving around slow-moving vehicles or driving on the shoulder of the road is not allowed in Texas. Motorcycles may only pass slower vehicles by using another lane of travel when it is safe to do so.
Do motorcycles have to pass inspection in Texas?
Yes, it is required that all motorcycles registered in Texas must pass an annual safety inspection in order to remain legally eligible to be driven on public roads. Inspections include elements such as brakes, steering, tires, wheels, lighting system, and horn operation.
If You’ve Suffered A Motorcycle Injury, Genthe Law Firm Can Help!
Motorcycles are a fun and exciting way to travel and offer an experience that regular passenger vehicles cannot compare. However, you must understand the laws before operating a motorcycle in the State of Texas. Rules keep us safe while on the road. Even if you follow all the laws, riding a motorcycle can be risky and motorcycle accidents happen. Other drivers simply fail to follow the rules and sometimes cause harm to others. If you or a loved one were the victims of someone else’s negligence while operating a motorcycle reach out to a law firm that can help. At Genthe Law Firm, P.C. we have experience in handling motorcycle cases. Contact our experienced attorneys or fill out the free case evaluation form if you have any questions.
- Texas Motorcycle Laws
- Class M License in Texas
- Texas Registration And Inspection For Motorcycles
- Texas Motorcycle License Plate Laws
- Insurance For Motorcycles
- Texas Helmet Laws
- Eye Protection, Face Protection, And Protective Clothing
- Motorcycle Equipment
- Motorcycle Operation Laws
- Texas Motorcycle Lane Splitting
- Motorcycle Parking Laws
- FAQs on Texas Motorcycle Laws
- Can you ride a motorcycle without a license in Texas?
- Does Texas have a no-chase policy for motorcycles?
- Does Texas have a dead red law for motorcycles?
- Why do bikers split at red lights?
- Why is lane splitting illegal in Texas?
- What happens if you get pulled over without a motorcycle license in Texas?
- Can motorcycles cut traffic in Texas?
- Do motorcycles have to pass inspection in Texas?
- If You’ve Suffered A Motorcycle Injury, Genthe Law Firm Can Help!