How to Get a Motorcycle License

If you are going to be riding a motorcycle on the road, you must have a valid motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. A valid motorcycle endorsement is something that all fifty states and D.C. require to operate a motorcycle on public roads.

Isn’t a Driver’s License Good Enough?
Some people assume that if you have a valid driver’s license that you can ride your motorcycle on the roads. This is not the case. To ride your motorcycle on public roads, you must have a special motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. Some states allow you to ride your motorcycle on the shoulder of the road, provided that you have a valid driver’s license, the correct stickers on your bike, and do not exceed 30 miles per hour. Essentially you have to follow the same rules that you would if you were riding a moped or scooter. Michigan, as an example, has this policy is so that you can ride your bike on the state trails and can legally cross the road or ride from one trail head to the next without having to load your bike into the back of a pick-up truck.

The Motorcycle Learner’s Permit
Even though all states require that you have a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license before you can ride your bike on the road, all states except for Florida and Louisiana are set up so that you can get a learner’s permit first. With a learner’s permit you are legally able to ride your bike on the road without a full endorsement, however restrictions vary from state-to-state, as do the tests required to obtain the permit. See the table below for a state-by-state breakdown of motorcycle learner’s permit requirements and restrictions.

A motorcycle learner’s permit allows you the time to get comfortable on your bike and prepare for the driving test that you will have to take in order to get a motorcycle license. The more time you spend practicing, the easier it will be to pass the test.

How to Get a Motorcycle License/Endorsement
Getting your motorcycle endorsement is a bit more complicated than simply going to the DMV and filling out some forms. All states want to know that you are properly qualified. To get your motorcycle endorsement, you will have to pass a minimum of knowledge and driving tests. Most states also offer motorcycle safety courses to help you learn the skills necessary to safely operate your motorcycle. Many states will even waive the driving test requirement for a full endorsement with a certificate of completion from one of these safety courses. You need to plan ahead as these courses can fill up really fast and have a long waiting list. See the table below for a full state-by-state breakdown of motorcycle license requirements.

Written Test
When you got your drivers license you had to take a written test. The purpose of this test is to prove that you have a strong grasp of the driving laws. You are going to have to go through the same process to get your motorcycle license. In addition to covering basic traffic laws, you are also going to have to prove that you understand safety rules. The written test can be quite long. To prepare for the written test, go to your local DMV and pick up a copy of your state’s motorcycle operator’s handbook. You should read the handbook through, cover to cover, at least a week before your written test, then review the material the day before and day of your test.

The Driving Test
The driving test for your motorcycle endorsement is similar to the driving test you performed to get your driver’s license. You will have to demonstrate your riding skills under simulated road conditions. Some types of maneuvers you’ll be required to perform are simple things, like starting, stopping, and turning. However, you will also be required to perform more complicated maneuvers like sudden stops, S-turns, U-turns, and sharp turns, which are necessary skills to help avoid dangerous situations when you are out on the road. Mastering these skill take time and practice, but the time practicing is well spent to help keep you safe.

After you have successfully passed both your written and driving test (and paid of a fee of course!), a motorcycle endorsement will be added to your driver’s license. However, just because you have your motorcycle endorsement it does not mean you no longer have to practice and keep practicing safe riding skills.

Note: the information provided in the tables below may contain errors and omissions. In some cases where there is no information, it is because we were unable obtain the information from that state. Do not rely on this information solely. Please visit your state’s DMV website or local office to get current and accurate information about your state’s motorcycle licensing requirements.

State-by-State Motorcycle Learner’s Permit Requirements

State Issuance Test for Permit Duration Restrictions
Alabama Knowledge
Alaska Knowledge 2 Years Supervision
Arizona Knowledge 7 Months No Passenger, No Freeway, Time of Day
Arkansas Knowledge
California Knowledge 1 Year No Passenger, No Freeway, Time of Day
Colorado Knowledge 5 Years
Connecticut Knowledge 60 Days No Passenger, No Freeway, Time of Day, Helmet, Eye Protection
Delaware Knowledge 60 Days No Passenger, No Freeway, Time of Day, Helmet, Eye Protection
D.C. Knowledge 1 Year
Florida NO PERMIT ISSUED
Georgia Knowledge & Vision 6 Months Helmet, No Passenger, Restricted Roadways, Time of Day, Eye Protection
Hawaii Knowledge 1 Year No Passenger, Time of Day
Idaho Knowledge 180 Days No Passenger, No Freeways, Time of Day
Illinois Knowledge & Vision 2 yrs. under 18; 1 yr. 18 or over Daytime Only, Supervision
Indiana Knowledge 1 Year No Passenger, Time of Day, Helmet
Iowa Knowledge 4 Years Supervision
Kansas Knowledge 1 Year Supervision
Kentucky Knowledge & Skill 3 Years No Passenger, Eye Protection, Helmet
Louisiana NO PERMIT ISSUED
Maine Knowledge 2 Years No Passenger, Time of Day
Maryland Knowledge & Vision 6 Months No Passenger, Supervision
Massachusetts Knowledge 2 Years Helmet, Eye Protection, No Passenger, Time of Day
Michigan Knowledge 180 Days No Passenger, Time of Day, Supervision, Helmet, Eye Protection
Minnesota Knowledge 1 Year No Passenger, No Freeway, No Night, Helmet
Mississippi Knowledge & Skill 1 Year Supervision, Helmet
Missouri Knowledge & Traffic Signs 6 Months No Passenger, Time of Day, 250cc, Under 18, Daylight Driving Only
Montana Knowledge 1 Year Supervision, Helmet
Nebraska Knowledge 1 Year Supervision, Helmet, Under 18, No Interactive Wireless Communication Device
Nevada Knowledge 1 Year No Passenger, Time of Day, Supervision
New Hampshire Knowledge 30 Days No Passenger, Time of Day, Helmet
New Jersey Knowledge 90 Days No Passenger
New Mexico Knowledge 6 Months No Passenger, Under 18, Time of Day, Helmet
New York Knowledge 1 Year Supervision
North Carolina Knowledge & Traffic Signs 1 Year No Passenger
North Dakota Knowledge 6 Months No Passenger, Time of Day, Helmet Under Age 18
Ohio Knowledge 1 Year Helmet, No Passenger, Restricted Roadways, Time of Day, Eye Protection
Oklahoma Knowledge & Car 4 Years
Oregon Knowledge 1 Year No Passenger, Time of Day, Helmet, Supervision
Pennsylvania Knowledge 1 Year No Passenger, Time of Day, Supervision
Rhode Island Knowledge & Skill 18 Months None
South Carolina Knowledge 1 Year Helmet & Eye Protection Under Age 21, Time of Day, Supervision
South Dakota Knowledge 1 Year No Passenger, Helmet Under Age 18, Restricted Hours, Supervision
Tennessee Knowledge & Skill 1 Year Helmet, No Passenger, Restricted Roadways, Time of Day, cc Restrictions (certain ages)
Texas Knowledge Varies Supervision
Utah Knowledge 6 Months No Passenger & Time of Day, Posted More Than 60 mph
Vermont Knowledge 120 Days Daytime Only, No Passenger, VT Only, May Only be Renewed Twice
Virginia Knowledge 1 Year Helmet, No Passenger, Restricted Roadways, Time of Day, Supervision, Parent Consent
Washington Knowledge & Skill 90 Days No Passenger, Time of Day
West Virginia Knowledge & Skill 90 Days Helmet, No Passenger, Time of Day, Eye Protection
Wisconsin Knowledge 6 Months Helmet, No Passenger (except class M license holder
with 2 years of licensure), Time of Day unless
accompanied by licensed person age 25 or older, Eye
Protection
Wyoming Knowledge 90 Days None

State-by-State Motorcycle Endorsement and Licensing Requirements

State Tiered Licensing System Rider Education Required for Licensing Age without Rider Education Age with Rider Education Driver’s License Required for Motorcycle Endorsement Handbook Used: Type of Knowledge Test(s) Knowledge Test Waiver For Rider Education Completion
Alabama Yes, ≤ 5 bhp or
≤ 150 cc (1)
No MOM
Alaska No No MOM MSF
Arizona Yes, ≤ 100 cc (1) For under 18, rider education or parental certification of 25 hours of
supervised motorcycle practice required.
16 No MOM Local Yes
Arkansas Yes, ≤ 250 cc (1) No 16 16 No Local Local No
California No Yes, under age 21 21 16 No MOM MSF No
Colorado No No 16 No MOM Local
Connecticut No Yes Rider Ed Required 16 No MOM Local
Delaware No Yes, under age 18 18 16 & 10 months No MOM MSF
D.C. No No 17 17 Yes Local Local
Florida Yes, ≤ 150 cc (1) Yes Rider Ed Required 16 No BRC MSF No
Georgia No No 17 17 No Modified MOM Local Yes
Hawaii No No 18 15.5 Yes MOM MSF No
Idaho No Yes, under age 21 21 15 Yes Modified MOM MSF
Illinois Yes, < 150 cc (1) Yes, under age 18 for > 150 cc 18 16 No Modified MOM MSF Yes
Indiana No No 16 & 270 Days 16 & 270 Days Yes MOM MSF No
Iowa No Yes, under age 18 18 14 No MOM MSF No
Kansas No No 16 No MOM MSF No
Kentucky No No 17 Yes Local MSF Yes
Louisiana No No MOM Local Yes
Maine No Yes Modified MOM MSF No
Maryland No Yes, under age 18 18 16.5 No Local MSF Yes
Massachusetts No Yes, under 18 or failed twice 18 16.5 No Local Local Yes
Michigan No Yes, under age 18 18 16 Yes MOM MSF No
Minnesota No Yes, under age 18 18 16 No Modified MOM Local No
Mississippi No No 15 14 No MOM Local
Missouri Yes, ≤ 250 cc (1) No 16 No MOM MSF Yes
Montana No No 15 No MOM MSF
Nebraska No No 17 No MOM MSF Yes
Nevada No No 16 No MOM MSF Yes
New Hampshire No Yes, under age 18 18 Local MSF
New Jersey No No MOM
New Mexico Yes, ≤ 100 cc (1) Yes, under age 18 18 13 No MOM MSF/Local
New York No No 16 No MOM MSF
North Carolina No Yes, under age 18 18 16.5 Yes MOM MSF Yes
North Dakota Yes, ≤ 250 cc (1) Yes, under age 16 (limited to < 250 cc) 16 14 No Modified MOM MSF No
Ohio No Yes, under age 18 18 16 No MOM MSF/Local No
Oklahoma Yes, ≤ 250 cc (1) No MOM MSF Yes
Oregon No Yes Rider’s Ed Required 16 Yes Modified MOM Modified MSF Yes
Pennsylvania No No 16 No MOM MSF/Local Yes
Rhode Island No Yes Rider Ed Required MRC: RSS
South Carolina No No No Local MSF Yes
South Dakota No No No MOM Modified MOM
Tennessee Yes, ≤ 5 bhp or ≤ 125 cc (1) No 16 No MOM MSF Yes
Texas Yes, ≤ 250 cc (1) Yes Rider Ed Required 15 Yes MOM MSF
Utah Yes, 90 cc; 249 cc; 649 cc (2) No Yes MOM MSF No
Vermont No No 16 16 Yes MSF MOM or BRC Handbook MSF Yes
Virginia No No 16 16 No MOM MSF Yes
Washington No Yes, under age 18 18 16 Yes MOM MSF Yes
West Virginia No No 18 18 No MOM MSF No
Wisconsin No Yes, under age 18 18 16 No MOM Local Yes
Wyoming No Yes, under age 17 17 MOM MSF

(1) May obtain motorcycle license at younger age for small displacement motorcycles.
(2) License restricted based on cc size of motorcycle upon which rider tested.

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