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Written by: Steven R. Clawson
| Read Time: 2 minutes

The experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at Wells Call Injury Law believe that you should not have to go to law school to understand California motorcycle laws, but sometimes the law can be confusing, especially if you are riding through multiple states.

In an effort to keep you safe, we have provided a breakdown of what you need to know. 

If you have questions or would like to speak with a California motorcycle lawyer, please contact us today.

California Motorcycle Laws

Many general traffic laws are the same for motorcycles as passenger vehicles, which makes sense because they share the road.

But some are specific to motorcycles, and those are important to know.  

Obtaining a Motorcycle License

A motorcycle rider must be at least 16 years old and hold a motorcycle permit for six months before getting a license.

Regardless of age, all California motorcycle license applicants must take the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) course, pass the written permit exam, pass the vision exam, present a valid California driver’s license or other accepted identification, and provide a thumbprint.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws

What states have motorcycle helmet laws? First of all, California does.

According to CVC §27803, all drivers and passengers must wear a U.S. DOT-compliant motorcycle safety helmet. Penalties can include fines up to $250 and up to a year of probation.  

Motorcycle helmet laws in other states vary. Here is the breakdown:

  • All riders must wear helmets: Alabama, California, District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
  • All riders under a specific age must wear helmets: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
  • No motorcycle helmet laws: Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire. 

If you are taking a cross-country road trip or moving from one state to another, it is important to know what states don’t have motorcycle helmet laws and which do.

That being said, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that helmets could prevent an estimated 41% of motorcycle driver deaths and reduce the risk of head injury by 69%. 

Lane Splitting 

California is one of the few states where lane splitting is legal. This is when a motorcycle moves between lanes of vehicle traffic that have stopped or slowed.

To legally split a lane, the traffic must be going significantly slower than the posted speed limit due to congestion or traffic has stopped, and the shoulder of the road cannot be used for lane splitting. It is illegal for someone to intentionally block a motorcycle from lane splitting. 

Passenger Laws

There is no minimum passenger age for motorcycle passengers in California, though there are some restrictions. Passengers must have their own seats and footrests.

Their feet must be able to touch the footrests, which means that children can legally ride as long as they can touch the forests and no longer need a child safety seat, as required for all motor vehicles. 

Get in Contact with a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

If you find yourself in a motorcycle accident, you should consult with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who understand the nuances of California motorcycle laws and the complex legal system.

At Wells Call Injury Law, we have been serving the needs of injury victims for over 40 years, and we can help you determine the best strategy for your claim.

Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.

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