If you want to ride a motorcycle in Texas, you need to meet all of the requirements to obtain a regular driver’s license. If you know you qualify for a license or more likely, you already have one, then you can move on to the motorcycle-specific requirements. You will need to find and complete a motorcycle safety course approved by Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). With a completion certificate in hand, you can go to the license office and take your vision, knowledge and/or driving test, depending on the situation. In many cases, you can have some or all of these tests waived.
What Class License Do You Need to Drive a Motorcycle?
To lawfully ride a motorcycle in Texas, you need a Class M license (unless you have a valid motorcycle license from another state). If you are 18 years or older, the first step to obtain a motorcycle license is to find a motorcycle safety course in your area and complete it. Your completion certificate is valid for up to two years.
Depending on your eyesight and last vision test for a regular license, you may need to take a vision test. If you have your completion certificate, then the requirement to take the motorcycle knowledge test is waived.
If you are over 17 years, have an unrestricted Texas Class A, B or C license and have your completion certificate, you do not need to take the motorcycle driving test. You can also skip the driving test if you are over 18 years and transferring a valid and unrestricted motorcycle license from another state or Canada.
How Do You Get a Motorcycle License as a Minor?
If you are under 18 years old and want your Class M license in Texas, the process is different. You must be at least 15 years old and your license may be restricted until you are at least 16 years old, similar to getting a regular driver’s license.
To begin with, you need a:
- Class C learner license and to have completed the 32-hour classroom phrase of driver’s education;
- Certificate of completion for the classroom phase of driver’s education; or
- Provisional driver’s license.
Then you must complete a motorcycle safety course. You can take your completion certificate to the license office and obtain a motorcycle learning license – a Class M license with a J restriction. In addition to the completion certificate, you may need a completed high school Verification of Enrollment and Attendance form and your parent’s signature on an authorization form. With your learner license, you can practice riding so long as another motorcycle cycle operator who is licensed and at least 21 years of age is “in sight.”
If you are only 15 years old at the time, you will also have an I restriction on your learner license, which means you can only ride a motorcycle with 250 cubic centimeter piston displacement or less. At 16 years old, you can have this restriction removed.
When you are ready to obtain your full Class M license without restrictions, you must take the motorcycle driving test.
Read More: Motorcycle Sidecar Laws
Can You Get Insurance on a Motorcycle Without a License?
You may be able to obtain insurance for a motorcycle without a license, though it is not guaranteed. You may be able to buy insurance after you purchase a motorcycle, but before you have your Class M license or learner license. It depends on the insurer. Some insurers may be wary of this and require you to have your learner license or full Class M license before you buy insurance.
Another situation in which you may need to insure a motorcycle without a license is when your spouse or child purchases a motorcycle and obtains a Class M license. You may wish to add the motorcycle to your auto insurance policy or obtain a new policy. Contact your insurer about this or contact multiple insurers for quotes. You may have to prove that the intended rider has a license.
Motorcycle Driving Laws in Texas
Under Texas law, every motorcycle must have:
- A mirror.
- A wheel assembly.
- An exhaust system.
- A head lamp.
- A tail lamp.
- A stop lamp.
- A license plate lamp.
- A rear red reflector.
- A horn.
- Motorcycle, Serial or Vehicle Identification.
Every motorcycle rider and operator must wear a helmet that complies with federal standards. This is usually designated by a sticker. However, there is an exception. If you are at least 21 years old and either complete a motorcycle safety course or have proof of medical insurance, then you may choose to not wear a helmet.
Additionally, you can have a passenger on your bike only if it is designed to hold one, which means it has a designated seat and footrests. Passengers cannot be younger than 8-years-old and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches. Children under this age or height must be in a vehicle safety seat.
To obtain a motorcycle license in Texas, you need to take a DPS-approved motorcycle safety course, and you also may have to take a vision, knowledge and/or driving test.