Top Motorcycle Laws In Texas
Trying to learn more about Texas motorcycle laws? Keep reading. If you own a motorcycle, it is important that you are aware of Texas motorcycle laws so that you can be sure you are riding legally. There are many different 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.
Motorcycle Licensing In Texas
If you want to legally ride a motorcycle in Texas, you will need a valid motorcycle license, which is its own specific class of driver’s license. The license you need is a class M license, which will also include mopeds. You will need to meet the requirements necessary to obtain a regular driver’s license as well. In order to get this license, you’ll need to report to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and take a motorcycle safety course, which is followed up by a written test and a driving test. Here’s a few common questions pertaining to Class M licensing:
- How long is a Motorcycle Safety Course completion certificate valid for?
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 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.
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, which 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.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws In Texas
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 you are covered with at least $10,000.00 in medical insurance. If you are covered with at least $10,000.00 in medical insurance you must carry a card or certificate that contains the name of the insurer, the insurance policy number, and the policy period. It is important to note that this is different than the minimum coverage required discussed above, as that minimum coverage 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 the majority of 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 pieces of safety gear except for helmets, as discussed above. However, some safety gear is strongly recommended and can help protect you and parts of your body that are most vulnerable 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 that 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.
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 “whitelining” 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 for engine damage for air-cooled engines, and a reduction in motorcyclists’ exposure to ambient heat in the summer and car exhaust. Currently, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) endorses lane splitting and works with groups to bring legal lane splitting to their states.
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.
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 with. However, it is essential that you 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 victim of someone else’s negligence while operating a motorcycle reach out to a law firm who 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.