Motorcycle License Requirements in California

-Posted On February 22, 2023 In Motorcycle Community-

Riding a motorcycle is a popular form of transportation and recreation in California. However, it is essential to have the necessary license and permit to ride a motorcycle legally. California law requires motorcycle riders to have a specific type of license, which varies depending on the rider’s age and experience level. Failure to ride a motorcycle without a license can result in serious penalties, so it is important to be aware of these important requirements.

How to Obtain a Motorcycle Permit in California

Before acquiring a motorcycle license in California, any rider under the age of 21 must first secure a motorcycle permit. There are two classes of permits: M2, which authorizes you to operate a motorized bicycle or moped, and M1, which authorizes you to operate any two-wheeled motorcycle and vehicles covered by the M2 permit. 

To attain a motorcycle permit in California, you must satisfy the following conditions:

  • You must be at least 15 and a half years old.
  • You must take and pass a written test at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which covers topics such as motorcycle safety, traffic laws, and road signs. This test consists of 30 questions, 24 of which must be answered correctly.
  • If you are under the age of 21, you must complete a motorcycle rider training course from the California Highway Patrol (CHP). This course is not required for older riders but is highly encouraged.

Once you have completed these requirements, the DMV will issue a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training, also known as a DL 389.

How to Get a Motorcycle License If You Are Under 21 Years Old

If you are under the age of 21, you will need to have held an M1 or M2 permit for at least six months before applying for a license. Once you have met the requirements of the permit, you can visit a DMV office and:

  • Submit your instruction permit as evidence of the six-month requirement
  • Provide evidence of completing driver education and training if you do not have a valid California driver’s license
  • Present your DL 389 to the DMV

Once these requirements are complete, the DMV will issue a temporary license. Your actual license will arrive within 60 days. 

How to Get a Motorcycle License If You Are Over 21 Years Old

If you are over 21 years old, you do not need a permit before applying for a motorcycle license. You will either need to take an approved CHP motorcycle rider training course or pass a motorcycle driving test at a DMV office. 

Then, you will need to:

  • Complete a Driver’s License or Identification Card Application
  • Submit your Social Security Number and a valid form of identification, such as a California driver’s license or residency documents
  • Pay the non-refundable application fee
  • Pass a vision exam
  • Get your fingerprints taken
  • Have your photo taken
  • Pass a knowledge test
  • Provide a DL 389 or take a motorcycle driving test

Once you have met these requirements, the DMV will issue a temporary license and mail your actual license within 60 days.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? Contact an Attorney

Despite these laws, unlicensed and untrained riders still take their motorcycles on California roads. If you are injured by a negligent motorcyclist or another person on the road, you deserve justice. Contact a San Francisco personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following your accident to discuss your case and plan your next steps.

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