7 California Motorcycle Laws To Know in 2023

While riding on two wheels can be an exciting experience, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the rules of the road. There are specific safety laws and regulations that must be followed to ensure safe and legal driving. It’s essential to prioritize safety and obey these regulations to avoid accidents and injuries while enjoying the thrill of riding a motorcycle.

California motorcycle laws are continually evolving and updating as new technologies and practices arise. The state is very strict when it comes to traffic violations, including operating motorcycles without valid licenses and wearing the necessary safety gear. 

To help ensure that riders are compliant, here are seven key California motorcycle laws you need to know in 2023, so you can avoid motorcycle accidents, costly fines, or even jail time.

In an accident?

Motorcycle Laws Every California Motorist Should Know 

california motorcycle laws 2023

Motorcycle crashes are common in California caused by diverse factors, such as reckless driving, drunk driving, negligence, distracted driving, and hazardous road conditions. All motorcycle drivers should be aware of the risks and abide by the following laws to help prevent an accident:

Licensing Law

In California, those aged 15.5 years and over are eligible to obtain a motorcycle license permit, which allows them to drive during daylight hours. Motorcyclists aged 16 years and over may apply for a driver license. However, those aged under 21 must first hold a learner’s permit for a minimum of 6 months. 

This motorcycle license enables them to practice safely on the open road, allowing for the development of appropriate skills prior to licensure. However, it is important to note that such permits do not grant holders the freedom to ride their motorcycles at night or on freeways.

California’s law offers two types of motorcycle licenses — the M1 and M2. An M1 license allows riders to operate any two-wheel motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, motorized scooter, motorized bicycle or moped. An M2 license, however, only permits riders to operate a motorized bicycle, motorized scooter, or moped.

Helmet Use Laws

Head injuries sustain the majority of serious and fatal motorcyclist injuries, yet can be mitigated with proper helmet usage — as dictated in California Vehicle Code §27803. Therefore, all motorcycle riders and passengers must wear U.S. DOT-compliant motorcycle safety helmets that have been certified by their manufacturer to comply with FMVSS 218 standards. 

Here are some benefits of using a helmet while riding your motorcycle:

  • Helmets help reduce the risk of death.
  • Helmets help reduce the severity of injury.
  • Helmets are reusable and cost-effective safety gear.
  • Helmets increase visibility to other drivers and riders.

Jaywalking Law (Freedom To Walk Act)

Motorists need to be attentive at intersections not only to prevent crashes with vehicles, but also to avoid a jaywalking pedestrian that may not see the motorcycle or, is being negligent at crossing the street using the “free to walk act” as an excuse.

The Freedom to Walk Act become effective on January 1, 2023. This Act permits pedestrians to cross roads without fear of ticketing, despite jaywalking still being illegal. Nevertheless, law enforcement is not allowed to issue tickets for this purpose, except when the individual poses an imminent risk of colliding with a vehicle.

Traffic & Pedestrian Stops

California Assembly Bill 2537 requires the Department of Justice, and departments like the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, to create and post a video demonstrating the proper conduct of both a peace officer and an individual during a traffic stop. This is an important measure intended to ensure pedestrian safety by discouraging negligent actions such as blocking crosswalks at stops or traffic lights.

Illegal Racing

Violations of California Vehicle Code § 23109 such as illegal street racing and speeding are frequent causes of fatal collisions and motorcycle accidents. 

Motor vehicle speed contests, which encompass any motor vehicle race against another vehicle, clock, or timing device, are prohibited on highways and off-street parking facilities. However, events involving a route of more than 20 miles with no speed limit surpasses do not qualify as speed contests.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting

Lane splitting is legal in California, however extreme caution should be taken, and it is not recommended for inexperienced riders. The collision danger resulting in death or severe injury increases as both the overall speed and speed differential rise. 

For maximum safety, consider the total environment when lane splitting, avoid big vehicles such as buses and big rigs select far left lanes where possible, wear bright-colored/reflective clothing, and ride between vehicles that have superior visibility of the bike rider. Additionally, riding on the shoulder should be avoided as this is illegal.

Passenger Laws

Motorcycle and motorized bicycle drivers are prohibited from carrying any other person apart from a passenger securely fastened to the machine at the rear with footrests, or in a sidecar designed for such purpose. Furthermore, while the vehicle is in motion, passengers are required to maintain their feet on the footrests, and both driver and rider must adhere to helmet use law by wearing appropriate safety gear.

In California, motorcycle drivers must abide by laws pertaining to safe and legal operations. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury due to the negligence of another party who violated the state law, then a motorcycle accident claim may be pursued in order to obtain fair compensation for injuries and property damage. 

Need help with filing a motorcycle accident claim?

Why is it Important to File a Claim After an Accident?

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, it is essential to file an accident claim as soon as possible. Filing a motorcycle accident claim can help you recover compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages you may have incurred as a result of the accident. Here are some reasons why it is important to file a motorcycle accident claim after an accident.

Protect your rights

By filing a motorcycle accident claim, you protect your legal rights to seek compensation for your injuries and damages. It ensures that you are not left to cover the costs of the accident alone.

Cover medical expenses

A motorcycle accident can result in severe injuries that require expensive medical treatment. Filing an accident claim can help you recover the costs of medical treatment, including hospital bills, surgeries, and rehabilitation.

Compensation for lost wages

If you are unable to work due to your injuries, filing a motorcycle accident claim can help you recover the wages you have lost during your recovery period.

Repair or replace your motorcycle

If your motorcycle was damaged or destroyed in the accident, filing an accident claim can help you recover the cost of repairs or replacement.

Hold the responsible party accountable

Filing a motorcycle accident claim can help hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence or wrongdoing that led to the accident.

Following an accident, victims should focus on recovery rather than paperwork or legal matters. In order to ensure a valid claim and receive a successful outcome, it is necessary to consult an experienced lawyer knowledgeable in navigating the motorcycle accident claims process. Such consultation should be followed by the subsequent steps:

  1. Seek medical attention: The first step after a motorcycle accident is to seek medical attention for any injuries sustained in the accident. Your health and well-being are the top priority.
  2. Consult with a personal injury attorney: If you have sustained serious injuries in the accident, it is advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.
  3. Collect evidence: With the help of your attorney, collect any evidence you can at the scene of the accident, such as photographs, witness statements, and police reports.
  4. Contact your insurance company: After discussing the incident and getting a legal counsel from your experienced legal team, contact your insurance company and inform them of the accident.
  5. Negotiate a settlement: Your attorney will negotiate with the responsible party’s insurance company to reach a fair settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, your case may go to trial.

Maximize Your Motorcycle Accident Settlement With Motorcyclist Attorney

At Motorcyclist Attorney, our mission is to provide legal assistance and representation to motorcycle accident victims so you can get your life on track as soon as possible. 

We are an award-winning law firm ready to build a winning case on your behalf. Available 24/7, and we speak English, Spanish, and Filipino. 


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