In an effort to reduce motorcycle accidents, are motorcyclists required to take any special courses or safety classes before getting a license in Virginia?

Just like driver’s education, classes are required for teen drivers ages 18 years or younger in most states, there are some specific age restrictions when it comes to operating a motorcycle in Virginia. Because of youth and inexperience, and because statistics show that the greatest number of motorcycle accidents happen during the early periods of motorcycle ownership, Virginia law does have certain requirements for most teenage riders. But, for adults, the steps toward obtaining a motorcycle operator’s license are different.

In the United States, it is estimated that nearly two million motorcyclists don’t own a valid motorcycle license. For these individuals, there is a greater risk of getting into a serious motorcycle accident. One Virginia State press release estimated that there are approximately 62,000 unlicensed motorcyclists traveling on state roads, not properly trained to operate the bikes they’re on. These figures contribute to the more than 2,000 motorcycle crashes in Virginia that occur each year.

Age and Experience Make a Difference When Getting a License
  • Younger than age 19 – If a rider is under the age of 19, and has never held a driver’s license before, he must show proof of having a motorcycle learner’s permit for at least nine months, and must pass the state approved Virginia Rider Training Program to get DMV approval for an operator’s license.
  • Older than age 19 – If a rider is over the age of 19, and has not held a motorcycle operator’s license before, then he must hold a motorcycle learner’s permit at least 30 days or pass the Virginia Rider Training Program.
  • Already have a Virginia driver’s license – If you already have a valid driver’s license, riders can add the Class M designation to their license to be legally allowed to operate a motorcycle. There will be no motorcycle learner’s permit required, no matter the age of the individual.

For each of these different categories, riders have to pass a vision screening, motorcycle knowledge test, and a road skills test. However, safety classes and operation classes are not a requirement for drivers.

If an unlicensed motorcycle rider injured you in a Virginia, Maryland, or D.C. motorcycle accident, not only did they break the law, but they may have violated your rights as well. Our skilled motorcycle accident attorneys and Lewis & Tompkins proudly serve Virginia, Maryland, and the D.C. area, and may be able to help you receive the compensation you deserve. Call our offices today at 202-296-0666 to speak with an experienced attorney about your claim.

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