Motorcycle Licensing Requirements in Texas
Every state, including Texas, requires motorcyclists to have a special license or endorsement on their driver’s license to legally operate a motorcycle.
This movement started in 1973 at the urging of motorcycle manufacturers. They realized that if motorcycles caused high rates of injuries and deaths, they might face onerous restrictions or even an outright ban on their products.
As a result, states put into place a separate motorcycle licensing process that went beyond the ordinary driver’s licensing system. This system emphasizes education and training so motorcyclists have the skills and knowledge to avoid a motorcycle accident.
Below, you will learn about the motorcycle licensing requirements in Texas and the risks of riding a motorcycle without a license.
Table of Contents
How Stephens Law Can Help After an Accident in Fort Worth
Stephens Law was founded to make a difference in accident victims’ lives. Attorney Jason Stephens has more than 20 years of experience helping clients recover injury compensation and has recorded some of the largest settlements and trial verdicts in Texas history.
He has also earned awards and recognitions for his legal knowledge, ethics, and accomplishments, including:
- Martindale-Hubbell’s highest rating, the AV preeminent rating
- Avvo’s highest rating, a 10.0 Superb rating
- Listed among the Best Lawyers in America since 2016 by Best Lawyers
- Top 100 Trial Lawyer since 2011 by The National Trial Lawyers Association
- Top Fort Worth Lawyers in Personal Injury since 2003 by Fort Worth, Texas Magazine
How Common Are Motorcycle Accidents Related to Motorcycle Licensing Requirements in Texas?
One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents is inexperience. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 25% of fatal motorcycle crashes involve a motorcyclist without a valid motorcycle license.
Texas does not release statistics on the licensing status of motorcyclists involved in motorcycle accidents. But the state does release motorcycle fatality numbers based on the age of the motorcyclist.
Motorcycle fatalities in Texas are high with younger — and presumably less experienced — riders. Fatalities peak at age 25 and slowly drop as the rider’s age goes up. The NHTSA’s study shows the same pattern, with unlicensed motorcyclists being primarily under the age of 30. Riders older than 30 tend to have a valid motorcycle license.
Thus, motorcycle licensing status, age, and experience all relate to one another and strongly predict the motorcyclist’s risk of getting into a motorcycle accident.
Overview of Motorcycle Licensing Requirements in Texas
Texas has two sets of motorcycle licensing requirements depending on the age of the applicant:
Applicants 18 or Older
Applicants 18 or older can receive a Class M license to operate a motorcycle if they:
- Have a regular driver’s license
- Take and pass an approved motorcycle safety course
Unlike other states, Texas does not provide an option to get a “motorcycle only” license. You must have a regular driver’s license to get the Class M endorsement.
If you have a valid out-of-state motorcycle license, Texas waives the motorcycle safety course requirement. Texas honors the other state’s issuance of your motorcycle license and grants a license without requiring you to meet any special requirements.
Applicants Under 18
Applicants under 18 must have a provisional driver’s license, a learner’s license, or a certificate of completion for the classroom portion of a driver’s education course. The applicant must then take and pass an approved motorcycle safety course.
In addition to these requirements, a minor applicant must:
- Provide proof of Texas residency
- Show a high-school Verification of Enrollment and Attendance (VOE) form
- Bring a parent to sign the authorization
- Pass a motorcycle driving test
The Class M license issued to a minor will include restrictions. For 15-year-old applicants, the Class M license will allow the rider to operate only motorcycles with engines with less than 250 cubic centimeters of piston displacement.
For 16- and 17-year-old applicants, restrictions imposed by the Graduated Driver License Program will apply. Specifically, the rider cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. and cannot use a cell phone while driving.
What Types of Injuries Usually Happen?
Inexperienced riders have a higher risk of accidents than experienced riders. If a rider has not completed the requirements to get a Texas motorcycle license, the rider could lack the skill to maintain control of their motorcycle. They may also not appreciate the limitations of motorcycles when stopping or turning to avoid an accident.
The most likely injuries in a motorcycle accident include upper and lower extremity injuries. This happens when the rider goes into a slide after losing control. They may experience abrasions (like road rash), burns, and lacerations on their arms and legs.
Another likely injury is an injury to the head, face, and neck. This usually happens when a rider does not wear a helmet. In Texas, all riders and passengers under 21 must wear a helmet.
Who’s Liable for a Motorcycle Accident?
If you get into an accident, the driver who caused the accident bears liability for the resulting damages. But if you contributed to your injuries by riding without a license, a jury or claims adjuster can assign some or all of the fault to you.
Under Texas’s modified comparative negligence statute, this means your damages get reduced in proportion to your share of the fault. For example, if you get assigned 40% of the fault because you were riding without a motorcycle license, you can recover only 60% of your damages. Moreover, if you are assigned 51% or more of the blame, you cannot recover any compensation.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Fort Worth Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
You can easily meet the motorcycle licensing requirements in Texas if you already have a driver’s license. More importantly, meeting these requirements will help you keep safe on the roads.
But accidents can still happen even when you have the skills and knowledge to ride a motorcycle safely. If you were in a crash, you could be entitled to compensation. To discuss your motorcycle accident and the compensation you can seek for your injuries, contact Stephens Law for a free consultation.