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Blogs from September, 2019


Motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable people on the road. Without protection offered by a steel frame, airbags and other safety features, motorcyclists are at a far greater risk of suffering harm from the impact forces of a collision.

Riders could suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries after hitting vehicles or other objects. For this reason, it is important to have a good understanding of California’s motorcycle laws. These laws help reduce the number of motorcycle accidents. Below are some of the motorcycle laws in California.

1. Lane Splitting in California

We recently published a blog on California’s lane splitting law. California is the only state where lane splitting, which is where motorcyclists ride between lanes of traffic, is legal. However, there are requirements and suggestions to consider if you are going to engage in lane splitting. 

  • Never ride at 10 miles per hour more than surrounding traffic. 
  • You should never lane split at speeds greater than 30 miles per hour.
  • You should always take surrounding traffic conditions into account.
  • Never lane split around large vehicles, such as commercial trucks. 
  • It is against state law to ride in the shoulder lane. 

Our blog on this topic goes into more detail about California lane splitting laws and suggestions. 

2. California Motorcycle Registration and Insurance Laws

You have to register your motorcycle with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. While virtually everyone hates having to deal with the DMV, you cannot ride an unregistered motorcycle in our state. It does not matter if you have a new or used motorcycle – you must register. 

You also have to have an insurance policy that meets the minimum requirements under state law. If you fail to obtain and maintain an insurance policy, then you could be hit with a 1-year license suspension. You could also forfeit your right to recover pain and suffering damages if you are involved in a collision while uninsured, even if you were not at fault for the accident.

3. California Motorcycle Equipment Requirements

Your motorcycle must meet certain specifications. For instance, your motorcycle must have a muffler and mirrors. Additionally, your motorcycle must have passenger footrests if you are going to carry passengers. 

Your handlebars cannot elevate your hands six inches above your shoulders. Almost all motorcycles require front and rear turn signals. 

There are also requirements for personal safety equipment. California law dictates that you must wear a helmet that is approved by the Department of Transportation. Your helmet must also have a visible DOT sticker. Passengers must also wear a DOT-approved helmet.

4. Operation Rules and California Motorcycle License Requirements

There are rules for operating a motorcycle in California. You must operate your headlights at all times (even during the day) if you are riding a motorcycle built in 1978 or later.

If you are under 21 years old, then you must hold a learner’s permit for six months before applying for your license. You must pass a vision exam, knowledge test and skills test if you are a learner’s permit applicant. The California DMV has online materials that can help you prepare for the skills and knowledge tests. 

During the 12-month period you have a learner’s permit, you cannot carry passengers, drive on the freeway or drive at night. 

5. Following California Traffic Laws

Traffic laws that apply to regular motorists also apply to riders. For instance, there are penalties for drinking and riding. You cannot ride above the posted speed limit or fail to stop at stop signs.

Additionally, you have to drive at speeds that are safe for present conditions (California’s basic speed law).

About Our San Jose Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

Our San Jose motorcycle accident lawyers have experience with auto and motorcycle accident cases. We encourage you to contact us for a free consultation if you or a loved one suffered harm during an accident. During the free consultation, we can review the specifics of your situation and inform you of any available legal options for pursuing compensation

You can schedule a free consultation with Needham Kepner & Fish LLP by dialing (408) 716-1668 or by using the case review form on our website.