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A motorcycle is a great vehicle. Both men and women alike get interested in riding. And if the parents are motorcycle lovers, it is natural that their kids will get interested in motorcycles and want to ride themselves.
So, how old do you have to be to ride a motorcycle on public roads in the USA?
The legal age for riding a motorcycle on a public road in the USA differs from state to state.
Most states issue motorcycle learner’s permits for eligible persons aged 14 to 16 years old. Permits are subject to terms and conditions (including parent’s consent and supervision) and restrictions (exact age varies from state to state).
Many states issue restricted motorcycle licenses for eligible persons aged 16 to 17 years with parental approval. Most states issue unrestricted motorcycle licenses to eligible persons over 18 years old.
We’ll go over the details below.
How old do you have to be to ride a motorcycle?
In the United States, you will need a motorcycle license, motorcycle endorsement, or a motorcycle learner’s permit to ride a motorcycle on public roads.
However, there are no age restrictions for riding a motorcycle on private land as long as you know how to ride, have the proper permission, and have an adult with you for support and guidance.
The minimum age for riding a motorcycle on a public road varies from state to state. These restrictions are put in place for both the protection of the rider and the passenger as well as others on the road.
The restrictions of a motorcycle permit and license are administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or its equivalent in each state.
Most states issue motorcycle learning permits for eligible persons aged 14 to 16 years.
Many states issue restricted motorcycle licenses for eligible riders aged 16 to 17 years and unrestricted motorcycle licenses to eligible persons over 18 years old.
The restrictions imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can include the following:
- Mandatory knowledge tests before issuing the motorcycle learner’s permit.
- Riders with learners permit are not allowed to take a passenger on their motorcycle.
- Permit holders may have restrictions like riding during daylight only and under the supervision of a licensed motorcycle rider of at least 21 years old.
- No riding on freeways.
If you are under 18 years of age, your parent’s consent are typically required to apply for a motorcycle learner’s permit.
The minimum eligible age for riding a motorcycle on public roads in the states of the USA can be found in the following table.
However, they are subject to restrictions and conditions of the respective DMV in each state. Please visit the DMV website for your state to find more details and specific requirements.
Many states have their Motorcycle Manuals available on the DMV website. This contains useful information for applying for your permit or endorsement and passing your knowledge exam.
|State||Minimum Age for Motorcycle License|
|New Hampshire||16 years|
|New Jersey||17 years|
|New Mexico||15 years|
|New York||16 years|
|North Carolina||16 years|
|North Dakota||14 years|
|Rhode Island||16 years|
|South Carolina||15 years|
|South Dakota||14 years|
|West Virginia||16 years|
The ages mentioned above are the minimum eligible age to apply for a motorcycle learner’s permit or different classes of motorcycle driving license. The states issuing the Motorcycle learner’s permit and Motorcycle license may impose other age-related restrictions and conditions. For more details visit the DMV website of the respective state.
You can visit the DMV website for your state of residence to learn about the minimum eligible age for applying for a motorcycle learner’s permit, a motorcycle driver’s license, restrictions, documents required, and other required information. You can use the link given in the following table to visit the DMV of the respective states.
Minimum Age for Motorcycle Passengers
The legal age for a child to ride as a pillion depends on your place of residence, the age and height of your child, and finally your perception of how safe it is for the child to ride as a passenger.
As per the information available on state DMV websites, a few states in the US have laws that regulate the minimum age for a child to ride as a motorcycle passenger. The minimum age ranges from 5 to 8 years old.
Please visit the DMV website of your state to learn more about the minimum age restrictions for riding as a passenger.
Aside from the minimum legal age, the decision of allowing a child to ride a pillion rests with the parent or guardian. Please consider the safety of the child and use all the necessary safety gear.
How to Apply For a Motorcycle License
Visit the website of the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state to understand the minimum age to apply for the motorcycle permit and motorcycle license.
You will need documents to prove your age, identity, and residential address.
The eligible age for applying for a motorcycle license differs from state to state. The minimum age generally ranges from 16 or 18 depending on the state.
In most states, a person ages 15 to 16 years old is eligible to apply for a learner’s permit to ride a motorcycle with certain restrictions. It may also be necessary to take a motorcycle riding course through an approved provider.
In many states, completion of the course is required for new riders under 18 years old. Additionally, completing the course may satisfy your written and skills test requirements with the DMV.
After holding a learner’s permit for a minimum period of 6 months, completing the motorcycle riding course, and reaching the eligible age to hold the motorcycle license, you can apply for the license.
Applicants under 18 years of age will typically need parental approval to submit the application.
M1 and M2 Classes of Motorcycle License
In many states, the Department of Motor Vehicles categorizes motorcycles into two categories:
- Motorcycles of 150 CC engine capacities, with no more than three wheels, and with a seat or saddle.
- Motorized bikes of 50 CC or less than 50 CC.
To ride a motorcycle of 150 CC or more, you may need an M1 class license or endorsement.
To ride a motorized bike with an engine capacity 50CC or less you may need an M2 class license or endorsement.
If you hold an M1 class endorsement, you can ride motorcycles of all capacities, but with an M2 class, you can ride motorized bikes of 50 CC or less only.
Motorcycle License vs. Motorcycle Endorsement
An aspiring motorcycle rider who does not possess a driver’s license (for other vehicles, like a car) is generally offered a motorcycle license, but if you are already in possession of a driver’s license (for a car or another vehicle), you will receive a motorcycle endorsement.
The motorcycle endorsement enables you to drive both a motorcycle and the other vehicle.
To legally ride a motorcycle on public roads, you must possess either a motorcycle license or an endorsement to ride the motorcycle.
Minimum Age for a Motorcycle License Around the World
Take a look at the minimum age to ride motorcycle around the world.
|Country||Minimum Age to Ride|
|Argentina||18 (17 with the parent’s approval)|
|Canada||16 with GLP (Graduate License Program) in most provinces|
|Chile||18 (17 with the parent’s approval)|
|Guatemala||18 (16 with parent’s approval)|
|Jamaica||16-17 learner permit & 18 regular license|
|Japan||16 for motorcycles less than 400 CC and 18 for more than 401 CC|
|Mexico||15-16 with parental agreement & supervision|
|Panama||18 (16 with parent’s permission)|
|Trinidad & Tobago||17|
|USA||14-16 for learner permits, & 16-18 for a regular license|
Learning and riding a motorcycle can be a fun activity for young men and women. However, it is important to follow all the rules, restrictions, and conditions for the safety of the rider and others on the road.
Wait until you reach the eligible age to ride a motorcycle on the public street and obtain the necessary permit or license before venturing out on the road. Wear the recommended safety gear and obey all the instructions of the permit/license and traffic laws in your area.