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Massachusetts Motorcycle Laws

What are the motorcycle laws in Massachusetts?

You must wear a DOT approved motorcycle helmet. You must also wear eyeglasses, goggles or a protective face shield unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen or windshield. You must have a motorcycle license or endorsement on your driver’s license. You may not operate a motorcycle outside Massachusetts if that state’s laws prevent you from legally doing so.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another motorist, you may be dealing with costly medical bills and lost income if you are unable to work. You may have questions about how to move forward. You may have a legal right to hold the at-fault driver accountable and obtain compensation for your medical bills and other expenses related to your motorcycle injury. The Boston motorcycle accident lawyers at Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers are energetic and experienced advocates for injured motorcyclists. Let our motorcycle crash attorneys review your injuries and discuss how we may help.

Massachusetts Motorcycle Helmet Law

In our experience as Boston personal injury lawyers representing injured motorcyclists, we find that most motorcyclists are familiar with the following Massachusetts traffic safety laws and obey them. They understand their safety depends on it.

Every motorcycle driver and motorcycle passenger in Massachusetts is required to wear protective head gear under Massachusetts motorcycle helmet laws.

Massachusetts’s law requires that the helmet comply with U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Helmets that comply with the safety standard will be labeled with a sticker on the interior and exterior of the helmet.

When riding, be sure that the helmet is fastened securely, so it does not come off during a crash.

Handlebars on Motorcycles

Tall handlebars may make handling a motorcycle more difficult. A motorcycle’s handlebars must not rise above an operator’s shoulders when the motorcyclist is properly seated on the motorcycle. A motorcycle must have proper safety equipment including at a minimum proper lighting, brakes, rearview mirrors, fenders, mufflers, and a secure seat.

Motorcycle Sound Emissions

Massachusetts law states that a motorcycle may not exceed a noise limit of 82 decibels when measured at a speed of 45 miles per hour or less. A motorcycle may not exceed a noise limit of 86 decibels when measured at speeds over 45 miles per hour.

In addition, Boston law states that exhaust pipes on motorcycles operated in Boston must bear an imprinted stamp saying they comply with the U.S. EPA’s noise standards. The stock exhaust pipes on street legal motorcycles have such stamps.

Do you need a license to drive a motorcycle?

All residents of Massachusetts who wish to drive a motorcycle in the Commonwealth need to obtain a valid motorcycle license, or a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license or learner’s permit.

Do you have to have a motorcycle license to register a motorcycle?

No, you do not have to possess a motorcycle license to register a motorcycle in Massachusetts. However, you are required to have a motorcycle license to drive the motorcycle.

To register the motorcycle, you will need to have proof of insurance, vehicle title, an odometer disclosure statement, and payment of registration fees. Massachusetts requires motorcyclists to carry liability insurance including at least minimum limits of $20,000 bodily injury, $40,000 per accident and $5,000 for property damage.

The motorcycle registration fee is $20 for one year.

How old do you have to be to get a motorcycle license in Massachusetts?

You must be at least 16-and-a-half-years old to obtain a Class M motorcycle license in Massachusetts. You must obtain a learner’s permit before you can apply for a motorcycle license. You may apply for motorcycle learner’s permit at age 16.

To obtain a learner’s permit, you must complete an application form, present valid identification, pay a permit fee and pass a multiple-choice exam. If a person applying for motorcycle permit does not have already have a Class D Driver License, the applicant must pass both the Class D knowledge test and the Class M exam.

Before taking the exams, it is helping to study the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles motorcycle manual to familiarize yourself with traffic laws applying to motorcycles in Massachusetts.

An individual cannot convert a motorcycle learner’s permit into a valid Massachusetts Motorcycle license until maintaining the permit in good standing for six months.

Massachusetts Motorcycle Licensing Requirements

The licensing requirements to driver a motorcycle in Massachusetts vary depending on the age and driving experience of the applicant.

Under 18

Any motorcyclist between the ages of 16-and-a-half and 18-years-old is classified as a Junior Operator.

To obtain a Class M motorcycle license in Massachusetts, a motorcyclist under age 18 must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Hold a motorcycle learner’s permit for six months before taking the motorcycle road test;
  • Have a clean driving record for at least six consecutive months prior to taking the road test;
  • Pay all licensing fees;
  • Complete a driver’s education course;
  • Pass the Massachusetts Rider Education Program basic rider course and pass a riding skills evaluation.

Rider education is an important part of motorcycle safety. The basic rider course is approximately 15 hours, with 5 hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of hands-on instruction on the motorcycle.

Parental Consent

Massachusetts requires individuals applying for a motorcycle license or learner’s permit under the age 18 to have consent from a parent, legal guardian, social worker or boarding school headmaster.

Getting a Motorcycle License if age 18 or older

You must hold a Class M permit for six months before you can apply for a motorcycle license in Massachusetts, regardless of your age.

If you are 18 years of age or older, after you have satisfied the permit requirement for six months, you can obtain a motorcycle license without restrictions.

Anyone applying for a Class M motorcycle license must not have had a permit or operator’s license revoked.

Obtaining a Class M License

If you have met the motorcycle learner’s permit requirements, maintained a clean driving record for six consecutive months and reached at least 16-and-a-half years of age, you may apply to obtain a Class M motorcycle license at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Limitations with a Class M Permit

Motorcycle permit holders may only drive a motorcycle during daylight hours between sunrise and sunset.

Permit holders may not carry passengers on a motorcycle.

Motorcyclists under the age of 18 are not allowed to drive a motorcycle between the hours of 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Renewing a Class M Permit

A Class M permit is valid for two years from the issuance date. If you need to renew the permit, you must:

  • Have appropriate identification documents
  • Pass the knowledge test
  • Pay the fee for the test.

Your Class M License expires after five years and must be renewed. In Massachusetts, you can renew your motorcycle license online or in person at an RMV office.

Renewing MA Motorcycle License Online

You can renew your license online as long as you are younger than 75 years old and do not have any unresolved traffic violations. You will need to provide:

  • Your name
  • Your Massachusetts license number
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your date of birth
  • Your email address.

You can pay the $50 Class M motorcycle license fee and $15 endorsement fee online using a credit card or a debit card.

Renewing MA Motorcycle License at RMV

If you wish to renew your motorcycle license in person, you can visit a local RMV office.

You will need to bring:

  • A completed application for a Class M or a Class D/M License
  • Your current MA motorcycle license
  • Your Social Security number or a denial notice from the Social Security Administration, you non-U.S. passport and an I-94 number
  • Cash, check or a money order for the renewal fees.

Obtaining a Duplicate Class M Permit

The cost of obtaining a duplicate permit is $15.

Can motorcycles split lanes in Massachusetts?

Some motorcyclists wish to avoid traffic jams by riding between the rows of stopped vehicles. Lane splitting involves driving a motorcycle between two lanes of stopped or slowed cars that are moving in the same direction. In Massachusetts, lane splitting is illegal. It also can be dangerous because other drivers are not expecting that a motorcyclist will pass close beside their vehicle.

Do not ride along pavement lines or between lanes of traffic. Do not weave in and out of traffic.

Contact a Massachusetts Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another motorist in Boston or elsewhere in Massachusetts, you want a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer on your side. If you have questions about your legal rights after a motorcycle accident or how much your motorcycle injury case may be worth, contact Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation. Call the motorcycle accident attorneys at Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers now to find out more about how we can assist you.

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.