In most states, a motorcycle license or endorsement is a precondition to operate a motorcycle legally. Additionally, certain states may also require licenses for mopeds or scooters above a certain engine size. However, prior to getting your license, you will need to obtain a motorcycle permit.
A motorcycle permit gives you the opportunity to practice riding and get comfortable on a bike. However, unlike a license, there are several limitations to where and how you can use your motorcycle on a permit. So, what does a motorcycle permit allow you to do? Find out in this article.
The Distinction Between A Motorcycle License And A Motorcycle Permit
Although both, a motorcycle license and a permit allow the holder to ride a motorcycle, there are certain key differences. These differences essentially lie in the permissions granted by them. While a motorcycle license allows you to ride a motorcycle at any time, a permit only allows you to learn to ride a motorcycle.
What does a motorcycle permit allow you to do? Typically, a motorcycle permit allows you to practice safe riding skills and prohibits carrying a passenger. Additionally, many states also place several restrictions on when and where you are allowed to ride on a permit. Usually, permit holders are only allowed to ride a motorcycle during the daytime. Motorcycle learner’s permits also prohibit you from riding on freeways. Some states allow permit holders to ride only under the instruction and immediate supervision of a licensed motorcycle operator.
Riders with a motorcycle permit need to demonstrate their competence and ability to ride a motorcycle before getting their license. With a motorcycle license, you are allowed to ride at any time and may even carry a passenger as long as you obey all traffic laws.
Applying For A Motorcycle Learner’s Permit
In most states, a motorcycle permit is a prerequisite to obtaining a motorcycle license. The application process requires you to fill in a motorcycle learner’s permit application form with a nominal fee, the cost of which varies from state to state. This is followed by vision screening and a motorcycle knowledge test.
The test consists of several topics ranging from traffic laws to motorcycle safety information, the consequences of driving under alcohol, Junior Operator Laws, and sharing the roads with pedestrians and bicyclists. Refer to the Motorcycle Manual or Handbook provided by your state DMV to prepare for the test.
After successfully passing the test, the application is processed and you shall be issued with a Motorcycle (Class M) learner’s permit. The permit allows you to build the skills required to operate a motorcycle and is usually valid for a period of 6 months to two years, depending on the state.
Generally, most states require you to practice riding and pass a road test in a given period of time. However, if you fail to do so and your permit expires, you will be required to re-apply for a new permit. A motorcycle learner’s permit cannot be renewed.
In most cases, to get a motorcycle learner’s permit you must be at least 15 years and 6 months old. You must also possess a regular state driver’s license or proof that you have completed a driver’s education and a driver’s training course.
If you are under 18, you must obtain a notarized written consent from a parent, legal guardian, Department of Children and Family, or your boarding school headmaster. If the person providing consent is not your parent, proper documentation of authority must be provided at the time of taking the written test.
For more information and to get an idea of the specific requirements of the area you live in, check your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Applying For A Motorcycle License
The primary intention of obtaining a motorcycle learner’s permit is to get your motorcycle license. After getting acquainted with your motorcycle’s operations and becoming a competent rider, you will want to apply for a license. While the procedure is fairly straightforward, the requirements do vary from state to state.
To obtain a license, you must take a road test supervised by your local Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) or DMV. This involves possessing a motorcycle permit and demonstrating your abilities to operate a motorcycle safely.
For example, you may be required to demonstrate the correct method of using turn signals and headlights. For your riding skills, you will be required to successfully execute turns, stops, circles, and figure eights.
It is important to remember that many states offer more than one type of motorcycle license. For example, In California an M1 permit allows you to operate any motorcycle or motorized scooter. While an M2 permit is issued for mopeds, motor scooters, and motorized bicycles. Make sure to submit an application for the appropriate license required to operate the specific type of vehicle you plan to use.
In some states, you may have an additional option available for obtaining your motorcycle license. The alternative option involves directly enrolling yourself in a state-approved motorcycle safety/skills program. These programs are suitable for both beginners and intermediate to advanced riders.
Upon the successful completion of such a program, participants are issued a motorcycle license. Generally, motorcycle permits are required to participate in such programs. Some places even offer these courses for free, though the license seeker may still have to pay a fee to apply for the license. The cost of a motorcycle driver’s license varies from state to state. For example, in California, the fee is $35.
Becoming A Competent Rider – Final Thoughts
While the thought of riding a motorcycle is exhilarating to most people, the importance of safe riding cannot be undermined. Obtaining your motorcycle learner’s permit is a great way to practice the fundamentals of safe and responsible motorcycling before becoming a licensed motorcycle operator. Always remember to wear the appropriate safety gear and good quality helmets to protect yourself from potentially fatal accidents.