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California motorcycle laws help keep operators and passengers safe on the roadways. Following the motorcycle laws in California will also keep you out of legal trouble. But no matter how specific or stringent those laws might be, you could still sustain severe injuries due to the actions of others.

If you suffer injuries in a crash, a California motorcycle accident lawyer from the Farzam Law Firm can help. Our team of experienced personal injury trial attorneys understands the importance of getting justice for our clients. Our team fights to get the results you deserve and understands the challenges of building a solid legal case. .

You could be entitled to recover compensation for your medical treatment, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you maximize your California motorcycle injury accident compensation.

To provide context and background, these are some of the essential motorcycle laws in California. Keep these in mind on the roadways, and you can help avoid some of the most common types of accidents and injuries.

Helpful References for CA Motorcycle Laws

The laws that apply to operating a motorcycle in our state are based on the general California Vehicle Code and the laws and rules of the road as set forth by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You can read more about these laws and other safe driving rules in the California Driver Handbook published by the DMV.

The DMV also publishes a supplement to the Driver Handbook for motorcycle-specific laws, rules, and safety guidelines, entitled the California Motorcycle Handbook. The information in that handbook applies to most types of motorized two-wheeled vehicles, including motorized scooters, electric bicycles, and mopeds. Some other types of three-wheeled, motorized vehicles also fall under this set of guidelines.

If you have questions about any of these laws and regulations—specifically as they might pertain to an injury accident—reach out to one of our experienced personal injury attorneys for help.

California Laws for Motorcycle License Requirements

To operate a motorized cycle legally in California, you must obtain the proper licensing. The type of California motorcycle license you need—either an M1 or M2—depends on the specific vehicle you intend to operate.

Obtaining a California M2 license allows you to operate any motorized scooter, moped, or motorized bicycle.

With an M1 license, you can legally operate any vehicle qualifying as a motorcycle under California law.

If you hold a Class C license, you can legally operate any three-wheeled motorcycle, motorized scooter, or two-wheeled motorcycle with an attached sidecar.

To obtain a motorcycle license, you must pass a knowledge test and a skills test. In place of taking a skills test, you can obtain a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training. This certificate, known as DL 389, is awarded upon passing a qualified California Motorcyclist Safety Program training course. If you are under the age of 21, DL 389 certification is required to obtain your license.

California Motorcycle Laws about  Lane Splitting and Sharing

In California, you can legally share and split traffic lanes. Lane splitting describes the practice of driving between two lanes of traffic. Lane sharing is the practice of two bikes riding abreast, sharing a single marked traffic lane.

However, despite the legality of these practices, motorcyclists can face an increased risk of injury should motorists fail to see the bike or take actions that put riders at risk.  California does have some laws in place to reduce that risk, however. For example, motorists are prohibited from opening their car doors unless they are safe to do so. 

CA Motorcycle Insurance Laws & Licensing Requirements

Under the California motorcycle license plate laws, you must register your bike with the Department of Motor Vehicles and display your license plate at all times.

Additionally, like all motorists in California, motorcycle drivers must carry liability insurance. If you do not have the required insurance coverage, you face the potential of driver’s license suspension (up to 12 months) if you are involved in an accident.

Minimum coverage requirements are as follows.

  • $15,000 bodily injury (individual),
  • $30,000 bodily injury (aggregate), and
  • $5,000 property damage.

As you can imagine, the injuries you sustain in a motorcycle crash could be severe. And the cost of your medical care could easily exceed these limits. If you sustain injuries in a collision that someone else caused, you may have a valid legal claim for your damages.

Likewise, if you are responsible for a crash, you could be subject to legal action. Talk to an experienced CA motorcycle injury attorney to learn more about your legal rights and obligations.

California Helmet Laws for Motorcycle Operators & Passengers

All operators and passengers must wear a helmet at all times when on a motorcycle. Helmets must meet U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. A DOT sticker must be in place on the helmet and visible to law enforcement officers.

In addition to providing helmet requirements, state laws require that motorcycles have working turn signals and left and right rear-view mirrors. Handlebars cannot place the operator’s hands more than six inches above seated shoulder height.

California motorcycle exhaust laws require that all motorcycles built after 2012 comply with the state’s exhaust anti-tampering laws. For any bike built after 1977, you must keep your headlight on at all times, day and night. 

If you carry a passenger, your bike must have an affixed seat designated for passengers. Passengers must have footrests or pegs, and while the bike is in motion, the passenger must place their feet in the designated locations.

Motorcycle Parking Laws in California

Parking laws for motorcycles are the same as they are for any passenger vehicle. If you park your bike on the side of the road, the DMV recommends that you park at an angle of 45 to 90 degrees to the curb with a wheel or fender touching the curb. The purpose of this recommendation is to increase your visibility to other motorists when you pull out from your parking space. Angling your motorcycle away from the curb ensures that other drivers have a side view, allowing them to see as much of your bike as possible.

When to Contact a California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you sustain injuries in a motorcycle crash in Los Angeles or anywhere in California, contact the Farzam Law Firm as soon as possible.

Our experienced California personal injury attorneys understand the importance of getting to know our clients and evaluating their individual needs. We tailor our legal strategies specifically for you to help ensure we get the best possible results.

We offer a free consultation to California injury accident victims. Contact us now to learn more or to speak with one of our CA motorcycle accident lawyers. 

Author Photo

Joseph Farzam

Mr. Farzam attended Santa Monica high school and worked at McDonald’s and local coffee shops to support himself. Although he worked 2 or 3 jobs, he valued education greatly and earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge in biology, and attended the prestigious Pepperdine University School of Law. He graduated with high marks and passed the California bar exam on the first try. Mr. Farzam has received the coveted titles of Super Lawyer, Los Angeles Magazine’s Top Lawyers, and has received The Litigator Awards.  He is a proud member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) and California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA).

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