In Virginia, motorcycle laws are designed to ensure that riders have the skills and knowledge to help keep themselves and others on the road safe. Unfortunately, even the most skilled motorcycle riders can suffer severe injuries in accidents caused by other careless drivers. If you have been injured in a Virginia motorcycle accident, the attorneys of Arrington Schelin can help. For more than 40 years, our attorneys have been watching out for bikers.
Reach out to us today for a free consultation.
Virginia Motorcycle Helmet Law
Virginia has a universal motorcycle helmet law, meaning that all operators and passengers on a motorcycle are required to wear helmets while on the move.
Operators and riders are only excused from wearing a helmet when riding on motorcycles with wheels of eight inches or less in diameter or on motorcycles or autocycles with a non-removable roof, windshield, and enclosed body. Motorcycle riders in an organized parade authorized by the Virginia Department of Transportation traveling at 15 miles per hour or less are also excused from having to wear a helmet.
Helmets that comply with Virginia’s motorcycle helmet law must meet or exceed the standards or specifications set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Snell Memorial Foundation, or the American National Standards Institute. Helmets that meet these standards will come from the factory bearing a “DOT,” “Snell,” or “ANSI” sticker.
Virginia Motorcycle Safety Laws
Motorcycle operators and riders must follow certain safety laws and recommendations when riding a motorcycle:
- Registration – All motorcycles must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles to be operated on public roads. Registration requires possessing a Virginia title along with an insurance policy that provides the minimum coverage required by law, issued by an insurance company authorized to do business in Virginia.
- Protective equipment and clothing – Operators and riders are required to wear approved helmets, as well as a face shield or goggles (unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windshield). Riders should also ideally wear jackets and pants made of durable materials, sturdy boots or shoes that cover the ankles, and gloves. Clothing should be brightly colored or have reflective tape or materials.
- Motorcycle equipment – Motorcycles should be equipped with a headlight and taillight, front and rear brakes, turn signals, a horn, and two mirrors.
- Alcohol – Riders should not operate a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol. A rider with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more is considered unlawfully intoxicated. Under the implied consent law, you must submit to a chemical test upon request following an arrest for DUI or your license can be suspended for up to one year.
How to Get a Motorcycle License in Virginia
Any Virginia resident who wishes to operate a motorcycle must obtain a motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license. A motorcycle license or endorsement will also designate whether a rider is authorized to operate only two-wheeled motorcycles or three-wheeled motorcycles or whether they can operate both types. A Virginia resident with a valid motorcycle license or endorsement from another state can transfer their license or endorsement to a Virginia license.
A person learning to operate a motorcycle may choose to first obtain a motorcycle learner’s permit. A learner’s permit remains valid for one year and allows operation of a motorcycle between the hours of 4 a.m. and midnight when visually supervised by a person age 21 or older (or 18 or older for a parent, legal guardian, or sibling) who is licensed to operate a motorcycle.
An operator younger than 18 years old must hold a motorcycle learner’s permit for at least nine months before becoming eligible for a motorcycle license or endorsement. Adults only need to hold the permit for at least 30 days, unless they have completed the Virginia Rider Training Program.
What You Need to Know About the Virginia Motorcycle Test
An applicant for a motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license must either complete an approved motorcycle training course or pass the motorcycle knowledge test as well as the road skills test for the type or types of motorcycles the applicant wishes to operate. If the applicant doesn’t already have a driver’s license, they will need to take a driver’s license knowledge exam, as well.
For adult applicants, successfully completing the Virginia Rider Training program exempts them from the requirement to hold a motorcycle learner’s permit for at least 30 days, as well as from the requirement to pass the motorcycle knowledge and road skills tests for a period of one year from the course completion date.
The motorcycle knowledge test asks 25 multiple-choice questions regarding the safe operation of a motorcycle. In the skills test, you will need to demonstrate your ability to safely operate a motorcycle under the review of a DMV examiner in a paved, off-street area. You must report to the skills test with an approved helmet that has a face shield or safety glasses or goggles if you have an open-face helmet, along with a motorcycle that has a valid license plate and inspection sticker.
The examiner will inspect your equipment and motorcycle to ensure their proper condition. The skills test will require you to perform maneuvers such as starting the motorcycle, accelerating, shifting, turning, braking, and swerving. You must successfully complete all maneuvers to pass.
The examiner may stop the test and fail you at any time if you operate your motorcycle in an unsafe manner, disregard the examiner’s instructions, or lose enough points to fail the test. You may also stop the test at any time if you feel you cannot safely complete a maneuver or comply with the examiner’s instructions. If you fail the skills test twice, you will be required to complete a Virginia Rider Training Program before you can become eligible for a motorcycle license or endorsement.
Virginia Motorcycle Law FAQs
Here are some of the common questions riders have about Virginia motorcycle laws:
Virginia Motorcycle Laws
Virginia has no minimum age limit for passengers on motorcycles. However, any motorcycle carrying a passenger must be equipped with a factory-installed seat and a separate set of footrests for the passenger.
Lane splitting, or the practice of riding a motorcycle on road lines or in between lanes of traffic, is illegal in Virginia. Under Virginia law, a motorcycle must remain within the traffic lane but is entitled to the full width of the lane, except two motorcycles may ride side-by-side in the same lane of travel.
Yes, Virginia law requires all operators and passengers riding on most types of motorcycles to wear a helmet.
If you are ticketed for not wearing an approved helmet while riding on a motorcycle, you can receive a fine of up to $200 for your violation.
Although not wearing a helmet likely did not contribute to causing your accident, the fact that you were not wearing a helmet can affect your claim for compensation. If you sustained facial injuries, head injuries, or traumatic brain injuries in a motorcycle accident, the insurance company may argue that you are partly at fault for your injuries. Virginia’s contributory negligence law could bar you from recovering compensation if you are even 1 percent at fault.
If the at-fault driver or insurance company is trying to push the blame on you, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Hurt in a Crash? Talk to a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Now
If you were injured in a motorcycle wreck, contact Arrington Schelin today for a free, no-obligation case review with a Virginia motorcycle accident lawyer. We’ll take the time to help you understand your rights under the law.