Motorcycle Laws & Regulations in Texas

motorcycle on highway

Texans love their motorcycles. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Texas has the fifth-highest number of registered motorcycles among the 50 states. Texas has specific laws and regulations that apply to motorcycles to protect riders and reduce the number of accidents. Whether you’re a motorcyclist in San Antonio or you are visiting the area, you need to know how Texas motorcycle laws apply to you.

The Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover is here to help you understand the motorcycle laws in Texas. Attorney Troy A. Brookover has more than 30 years of experience advocating for motorcyclists’ rights and interests in the Lone Star State. Keep reading to learn more. – and remember, if you’re ever involved in a motorcycle accident in southern Texas, contact our offices for a free consultation with a motorcycle accident lawyer in San Antonio.

Riding Requirements for Motorcycles

Texas law stipulates that motorcycles must have specific required equipment before the vehicle can be driven on the road, including:

  • Horn
  • Mirror
  • Steering
  • Brakes
  • Tires
  • Wheel assembly
  • Exhaust system
  • Tail lamp
  • Brake light
  • License plate lamp
  • Rear red reflector
  • Headlamp
  • Motorcycle serial, or vehicle identification
  • Footrests and handholds for passengers (if carrying passengers)

Safety Equipment Regulations

Texas law does not require all motorcyclists to wear most safety equipment. But riders are encouraged to utilize the following safety equipment to protect themselves:

  • Head protection– Helmets protect motorcyclists from head injuries. Any person under the age of 21 is required to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Riders and passengers over 21 are exempt from the requirement to wear a motorcycle helmet if they have completed an approved motorcycle training course or have proof of medical insurance coverage.
  • Eye protection– Eyeglasses or goggles with shatterproof lenses protect the eyes from debris and flying insects. Goggles offer eye protection and most models seal out the wind that makes the eyes water. Most styles of eyeglasses do not seal out the wind.
  • Protective clothing– Motorcyclists should wear proper attire for riding, including low-heel footwear, gloves, long-sleeved shirts or jackets, and long pants. A long-sleeve jacket and long pants can help reduce the severity of cuts and abrasions in the event of a crash.
  • Hearing protection– Motorcycles are loud. Many riders would benefit from ear protection such as disposable or custom earplugs.

Texas Motorcycle Permit Laws

Someone learning to ride a motorcycle can also apply for a motorcycle learner license. This license allows someone to ride and practice on a motorcycle when accompanied by another licensed motorcycle operator aged 21 or older, who must remain in sight of the learner license holder.

An applicant for a motorcycle learner license must be at least 15 years old; however, 15-year-olds have a restriction on their license that limits them to riding motorcycles with engines of 250cc displacement or less. Applying for a motorcycle learner license requires completing all the requirements of a driver learner license, plus a motorcycle safety course.

Texas Motorcycle Licensing

To begin riding a motorcycle, you must obtain a valid motorcycle license (class M driver’s license). The process of obtaining a motorcycle license involves several steps:

  • TDLR-approved motorcycle operator training– You must complete and pass a motorcycle operator training course approved by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation before applying for a motorcycle license. You can find a list of approved schools on the TDLR website.
  • Knowledge test– This test may be waived for people who have completed a TDLR-approved motorcycle operator training course.
  • Motorcycle skills test– This test may be waived for people ages 18 and older who present a certificate of completion from a TDLR-approved motorcycle operator training course and hold an unrestricted A, B, or C license. Anyone under 18 must pass a motorcycle skills test. A skills test will evaluate your ability to perform basic driving tasks, such as controlling the motorcycle and positioning the motorcycle within the lane properly.

The licensing process is slightly different for minors and young adults (ages 18-24). Consult the Texas Department of Public Safety for complete information on motorcycle licensing.

Minimum Insurance Required

Texas motorcycle riders must have liability insurance to cover injuries to others and vehicle damage. The minimum amounts of liability insurance that motorcyclists must carry include limits of $30,000 for each person injured, $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. You must present proof of insurance when registering your motorcycle and completing annual inspections.

Laws Pertaining to Passengers

Carrying a passenger on your motorcycle involves additional risks and responsibilities. The motorcycle must be equipped with footrests and handholds for passengers. Second, passengers under the age of 21 must wear helmets. Other passengers who are not exempted from Texas’s helmet law must also wear a helmet. Children under the age of eight are not allowed to ride motorcycles. Texas law requires children under eight to ride in an approved child safety seat, which motorcycles cannot accommodate.

Laws Pertaining to Parking

Some motorcyclists might be tempted to park wherever their motorcycle will fit, including areas designated for individuals with disabilities. It is against the law in San Antonio to park, stand, or stop a vehicle, including a motorcycle, in a parking area designated for individuals with disabilities. If you do, you could face a fine of $500 to $750. Texas law stipulates that:

  • You can only park in an accessible parking spot if your motorcycle has a disabled license plate or state-issued windshield identification card.
  • You cannot use another person’s disabled parking windshield identification card unless you are transporting that person.
  • If you have a windshield identification card, you cannot lend it to someone else.
  • You cannot block access or curb ramps meant for individuals with disabilities.

Exhaust and Muffler Laws

Texas has no laws regulating motorcycle mufflers or exhaust, but many states and even certain localities do. Texas motorcyclists who travel out of state should review the exhaust and muffler laws of the location they are visiting to comply with the law.

Texas Motorcycle Helmet Law

Texas law requires motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet that meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218. However, riders and passengers over 21 may be exempted from wearing helmets if they have:

  • Completed a TDLR-approved motorcycle operator training course
  • Provided proof of medical insurance, including an insurance card that contains the name of the insurer, the insurance policy number, and the policy period.

Even if you are exempted from wearing a helmet under Texas’s motorcycle helmet law, you stand a better chance of surviving a crash and avoiding a serious head injury if wearing a helmet. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of death by 37 percent for operators and 41 percent for passengers. Furthermore, helmets reduce the threat of head injury by 69 percent.

State Safety Inspection Laws

All vehicles, including motorcycles, must pass an annual safety inspection in Texas. Yearly inspections of motorcycles are designed to ensure that the following motorcycle parts meet the minimum legal requirements:

  • The tail lamp
  • The stop lamp
  • The head lamp
  • The license plate lamp
  • The rear red reflector
  • The horn
  • The mirror(s)
  • The steering
  • The brakes
  • The tires
  • The wheel assembly
  • The exhaust system

The inspection will also ensure that the motorcycle’s vehicle identification or serial number is printed on the bike. Motorcycles that pass the annual safety inspection receive a sticker to be displayed on or near the license plate. In addition to the state safety inspection, several counties in Texas require motorcycles to undergo and pass regular emissions testing.

If You Are Involved in a Motorcycle Accident, What to Do?

If you were involved in a motorcycle accident, you should act immediately to protect your rights. The motorcycle accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover urge you to take the following steps:

  1. Prioritize your safety– Motorcycle accidents can be devastating. The dangers do not end with the initial collision. If a motorcycle accident occurs on a busy roadway, an injured motorcyclist may be at risk of getting hit a second time by an approaching vehicle. Before you worry about anything else, move to a safe location. Prioritize your safety and the safety of your passengers. Move to safety and watch out for other vehicles.
  2. Gather evidence– Once it is safe to do so, gather evidence at the accident scene, including photos and videos of the wreck. Collect the contact information of the other drivers involved, and make notes of how the accident occurred.
  3. See a doctor– See a doctor as soon as possible, even if you feel fine. Motorcycle accidents can result in severe injuries, some of which may not be immediately apparent. You will need a record of your accident-related injuries to file a compensation claim.
  4. Consult an attorney– Consult with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who can advocate aggressively for your rights and interests.

Schedule a Free Case Review with Our Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

Even if you follow all of Texas’s motorcycle laws and regulations, you can still get in an accident with a negligent driver. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in San Antonia, Texas, contact the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover. You should not have to pay for another driver’s irresponsibility and wrongdoing. We want to help you seek just compensation so you can move forward with your life.