Motorcycle Licensing Laws Are Different for Teen Riders

Sep 28, 2012 View Comments by

Recently Pennsylvania instituted new training requirements for teens wanting to obtain their motorcycle license. Under Pennsylvania’s new law, all 16- and 17-year-olds applying for a motorcycle license must first complete the state-approved motorcycle safety program.

Courses like Pennsylvania’s Basic Rider Course are meant to provide young bikers with an introduction to the fundamentals of safe and responsible riding. However, Pennsylvania is not the only state that requires teens to complete a safety course. Many states have licensing requirements for teens that differ from adults, including additional training requirements, such as attending safety courses, restricted riding hours for permit holders, etc.

Young bikers who fail to complete their state’s requirements and who commit licensing violations can face citations, fines, prison time, and other penalties—however, the penalties vary from state to state. Violations can also cause further legal troubles. Even if a biker is seriously injured and is entirely free from guilt in an accident, the other at-fault driver may try to evade responsibility by claiming the rider shouldn’t have been on the road at a particular time, or use other similar reasoning.

Here are examples of some of the states that have stricter teen motorcycle licensing laws:

  • California: Teens (16 or 17 years old) must have had their license for at least six months and successfully completed the California Motorcyclist Safety Program training course. Adults (over 21), on the other hand, can schedule a motorcycle driving test any time after they have obtained their learner’s permit and do not have to complete a safety training course.
  • Texas: Both teens (under 18) and adults (age 18 and over) have to provide proof of completing a motorcycle safety course approved by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. However, only adults are exempt from the driving test after completing the safety course.
  • Florida: Regardless of age, everyone applying for a motorcycle license must complete a 15-hour safety program. However, riders under age 21 must take a test to get their license, whereas riders over 21 must only complete an Experienced Rider Course (ERC).

In addition to requiring these safety courses for teen riders, most states allow any interested riders to participate in their motorcycle safety programs. Training in these classes includes starting, stopping, turning, swerving, and cornering.

Many courses address the importance of safety gear, like helmets. Numerous studies have shown that wearing a Department of Transportation approved helmet reduces your chances of suffering a traumatic brain injury, facial injury, or death in the event of an accident. Visit these links for more information on motorcycle safety and statistics.

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About the author

Attorney Michael H. Rosenzweig has over 20 years of experience helping bikers injured in motorcycle accidents. He is a partner and litigation manager at Edgar Snyder & Associates. The Edgar Snyder & Associates Harley-Davidson makes appearances at bike nights and rallies throughout the riding season.