As legal professionals specializing in California motorcycle law, we understand the allure of riding a motorcycle, feeling the wind on your face, and the freedom of the open road. In California, where the weather is often ideal for riding, with scenic routes such as the Pacific Coast Highway, the Redwood Ride, and the Angeles Crest Highway, it's no surprise that motorcycles are a common sight on the roads. However, to comply with California state law, it is necessary to obtain a valid motorcycle license before riding. While the process is straightforward, the specific steps required to obtain a license will vary depending on your individual circumstances and requirements.
Differentiated Motorcycle License Types:
In accordance with California law, possessing a valid motorcycle license is a prerequisite for operating a motorcycle. To that end, the state issues various classes of driver licenses that permit the operation of two-wheel vehicles. The Class M1 license, for instance, enables the holder to operate any two-wheeled motorcycle and all vehicles listed in Class M2. Alternatively, the Class M2 license authorizes the operation of a motorized bicycle, moped, or bicycle with an attached motor. It is important to note that individuals who hold a Class C license, which is issued for standard motor vehicle operation, are permitted by the California DMV, to operate a motorcycle with a sidecar attached, a three-wheel motorcycle, or a motorized scooter.
The Process of Applying for & Securing your California Motorcycle License
The process of obtaining a California motorcycle license varies depending on the age of the applicant. For those under 21 years of age, additional steps are required before obtaining a motorcycle driver license. An instruction permit must be held for at least 6 months before applying for a motorcycle license. To obtain the permit, the applicant must complete the CHP approved California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) training course and present the completion certificate to the DMV. In addition, the applicant must complete a driver license or identification card application, pass a vision exam, pay the application fee, and pass a knowledge test. If the applicant fails the test three times, the process must be repeated. Once the permit is obtained, the applicant can apply for a full motorcycle license after holding the permit for 6 months.
For applicants over 21, an instruction permit is not required, but they must either complete the CMSP or pass a motorcycle-driving test at the DMV, which includes a pre-trip inspection, riding in different track paths, slow riding, and gear shifting. Proof of financial responsibility must also be provided.
To apply for a motorcycle license, applicants must go to the DMV and provide personal information, pass a vision exam, pass the knowledge test, have a fingerprint and photograph taken, pay the application fee, and present the CMSP certificate or take the motorcycle-driving test. Once all requirements are met, a temporary license will be issued, with the actual license to follow by mail.