Laws Every Motorcyclist Should Know:
California requires all motorcyclists to obtain a learner’s permit before applying for a license. Riders who are under the age of 21 must hold a permit for at least six months before they can apply for a license.
All learners permit applicants must pass a vision exam, skills test, and a knowledge test that covers information found in the California Motorcycle Handbook. Applicants under the age of 21 must also pass a California Motorcyclist Safety Program training course administered by the California Highway Patrol.
Permits are valid for 12 months after they are issued, and they prohibit motorcycle drivers from doing any of the following:
- Carrying passengers
- Driving on the freeway
- Driving at night
Helmet and Safety Laws:
California law requires a variety of rider and motorcycle safety equipment:
- California Vehicle Code (CVC) 27803 requires motorcycle drivers and riders to wear helmets at all times. The helmet must be in compliance with standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- Motorcycles must be equipped with right and left mirrors, per CVC 26709.
- Handlebars may not be installed in such a position that puts the driver’s hands more than six inches above his or her shoulder height as he or she is sitting on the seat, according to CVC 27801.
- Working turn signals, both front and rear, are required for all motorcycles built and first registered on January 1, 1973, or later.
Lane Splitting and Land Sharing
Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist maneuvers between two lanes of traffic to get around vehicles. In 2016 California passed a law legalizing this practice on the states roadways.
Other California laws are designed to protect riders when they are lane splitting. CVC 22400 prohibits motorists from driving at a speed so slow that it impedes reasonable movement of traffic, unless it is necessary for safety. CVC 22517 makes it illegal for motorists to open vehicle doors unless it is reasonably safe to do so and will not interfere with the movement of traffic.
California does not have a specific restriction against lane sharing, which occurs when two motorcyclists ride side-by-side in a single lane of traffic.
California has no law setting an age restriction for passengers on motorcycles. This means that people of any age may ride on a motorcycle as a passenger. However, California law requires that passenger seats must be securely fastened to the motorcycle behind the driver’s seat. Passengers must have footrests in place and used while the motorcycle is in motion.