Motorcycle License Requirements: Do You Need a Motorcycle License?

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While there are exceptions made for vehicles with smaller engine sizes, in most states, you're required to have a motorcycle license to ride a motorcycle, moped or a scooter. Furthermore, typically you must be at least 18 years old in most states to get a motorcycle license. Adhering to motorcycle license requirements can help you avoid hefty fines and even jail time. If you plan to drive a motorcycle, we recommend having the appropriate credentials—especially since it typically only takes a few weeks and is relatively inexpensive.

Motorcycle License Requirements

Being aware of motorcycle license requirements can help you avoid breaking the law and facing penalties for driving without a motorcycle license. Whether you drive a motorcycle, moped or a scooter, here are common license requirements.

Do You Need a Motorcycle License to Drive a Motorcycle?

Every state requires you to have either a motorcycle permit, motorcycle endorsement or motorcycle license to drive a motorcycle. The process to get a motorcycle license will vary depending on which state you live in, but you can typically expect the following to apply.

Motorcycle Permit: In most states, drivers under the age of 18 will be required to get a motorcycle permit before they can apply for a motorcycle license. The minimum age requirement to get a motorcycle permit in most states is either 15 or 16 years old. To get a motorcycle permit, riders have to complete a driver's education course, pass a written motorcycle exam and pass a vision test.

Motorcycle License: The motorcycle licensing process is similar to the steps to getting a motorcycle permit. You'll have to complete a motorcycle safety course or pass a motorcycle road test and a knowledge exam. It's possible to get a motorcycle license without a driver's license.

It's important to note that there are exceptions to the above. For state-specific information, we recommend contacting your state's department of motor vehicles. Beyond licensing requirements, you may want to consider motorcycle insurance requirements. Getting a motorcycle license and motorcycle insurance will not only let you operate your motorcycle legally, but it will also provide financial protection if you're in a covered accident. Rates and coverage options vary widely between motorcycle insurance companies, so be sure to compare motorcycle insurers.

Do You Need a Motorcycle License to Drive a Moped or a Scooter?

Whether you need a motorcycle license to drive a moped or a scooter will depend on the engine size and the state you ride in. If your moped or scooter has an engine that is 50 cubic centimeters (cc) or smaller, some states will only require that you have a standard driver's license or a learner's permit. In stark contrast, some states don't require licensing but instead impose age limits. If your moped or scooter has an engine that is larger than 50cc, most states require that you have a driver's license with a motorcycle endorsement or a motorcycle license.

What Is a Motorcycle Endorsement? A motorcycle endorsement is an additional credential that supplements your existing driver's license. It grants you the legal authority to operate a motorcycle, moped or scooter on public roads. For example, let's say you already have a driver's license in Florida. In this scenario, rather than opting for a motorcycle license, you could choose to get an endorsement added to your existing driver's license. That endorsement would allow you to legally operate a motorcycle, moped or scooter.

Do You Need a Motorcycle License for a Vespa? If it's over 50cc, then yes. A Vespa is a brand of scooter, therefore, all of the scooter licensing requirements mentioned above apply to Vespas as well. In the same vein, slingshots, Groms and trikes are considered types of motorcycles and would also require a motorcycle license.

Do You Need a Motorcycle License to Register a Motorcycle?

In short, no, you don't need a motorcycle license to register a motorcycle, but it makes it a lot easier. Most insurance companies require a license before you can get motorcycle insurance and insurance is a typical requirement for vehicle registration in most states. Therefore, in order to register a motorcycle without a motorcycle license, you'll need to find an insurance company that will insure you without said license, which can prove difficult.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Motorcycle License?

The time it takes to get a motorcycle license varies for motorcycle drivers, but most can expect the process to take a few weeks. The timing will be largely dependent on how long it takes you to complete your motorcycle safety course and pass your motorcycle driving exam, and the time it takes to process your application.

Penalties for Driving a Motorcycle Without a License

In most states, driving a motorcycle without a motorcycle license can result in fines and even jail time. For instance, in California, driving a motorcycle without a motorcycle license is punishable as either an infraction or as a misdemeanor. If it is ruled a misdemeanor, the driver can face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

California isn't the only state with harsh penalties for unlicensed motorcycle drivers. Drivers in Florida can face a fine of up to $500, six months of probation and up to 60 days in jail. Ultimately, it's never a good idea to drive any vehicle without the appropriate license. Keep in mind that the laws in your state could be stricter than the ones mentioned above.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Motorcycle License?

The costs to get a motorcycle license vary widely, but you can typically expect to pay less than $50. Even for riders within the same state, the cost will depend on the driver's age and whether they are looking to get a motorcycle endorsement or a motorcycle license. For reference, we provide the cost to get a motorcycle license in Texas, below.

TypeFee
Motorcycle License (18 Years or Older)$25
Motorcycle License (Under 18 Years Old)$16
Motorcycle Endorsement$16

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