What Are California Motorcycle Laws?

San Jose Motorcycle Attorneys Explain the Law

Motorcycling is an enjoyable and exciting pastime for millions of people each year. Motorcycle riders should feel comfortable on the road, especially given that they are afforded the same rights as fellow motorists. However, not everyone on the road follows the rules and regulations required to drive and unfortunately, accidents frequently happen as a result of this negligence. If a motorist or other individual does not follow California law and an accident results, then you may have grounds for a motorcycle injury claim.

The legal team at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP can explain the applicable rules and regulations and can investigate your motorcycle accident to determine if the other party should be held responsible for your injuries.

What Are the Important Laws I Should Know About Motorcycles?

Understanding California’s motorcycle laws is important for your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road. The first law you must comply with is the state’s licensing requirement. To operate a motorcycle in California, you need a Class M1 license. To get this license, you must pass a knowledge test and a skills test. If you are younger than 21, you must also take the state’s Basic Rider Course. If you are older than 21, the state may waive the skills test if you have completed a motorcycle training course. Here is some additional information on motorcycle laws in California:

  • Registration: It does not matter if you buy a motorcycle new or used, you must register it with the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you have registered your motorcycle in another state, you must register it again in California when you move here.
  • Helmets: California law requires you to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle on any roadway in the state. The helmet must bear a DOT sticker saying it meets federal safety standards. This law applies to passengers as well.
  • Hardware: Motorcycles must be equipped with a muffler and mirrors. If you are carrying a passenger, the motorcycle must have a passenger footrest.
  • Headlights: Motorcycles built in 1978 or later must operate their headlights even during daylight hours.
  • Choppers: The handlebars of a motorcycle cannot elevate the rider’s hands more than six inches above the rider’s shoulders when seated.
  • Insurance: Motorcyclists are required to carry liability insurance. Failure to do so can result in a one-year license suspension.
  • Lane splitting: California is one of the few states where motorcyclists can legally engage in lane splitting — riding between two lanes of car traffic. However, rules that went into effect in early 2013 allow motorcyclists to split lanes only when traffic is moving slower than 30 mph. Also, motorcyclists can go only 10 mph faster than the cars they are driving between while lane splitting.

What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?

After a motorcycle accident, you should get medical attention and then consult an experienced personal injury lawyer in San Jose who can assess your case and help you collect compensation. The lawyers at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP will immediately begin gathering the evidence, including police reports, photographs and medical records. Our motorcycle attorneys will handle all the details of your case, collecting everything from basic evidence to testimony from witnesses. A motorcycle accident lawyer from our firm can give you the personal attention you need for your case.

Fighting for Motorcyclists in San Jose, Sacramento and San Francisco

At Needham Kepner & Fish LLP, our knowledgeable attorneys are ready to answer your questions about motorcycle laws. We provide aggressive representation to injury victims in San Francisco, Monterey and throughout the Bay Area. We are available weekends and evenings by appointment. If your injuries prevent you from visiting our office, we will meet with you at your home or wherever is most convenient for you. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at (408) 956-6949 or use our online form. We handle injury cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you pay us nothing unless you recover compensation.

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