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Texas Motorcycle Laws Every Rider Should Know

Texas is an attractive destination for motorcyclists, with long, open roads and beautiful sights to see. Texas is one of the top 10 states in the country for the number of motorcycles registered. Unfortunately, Texas is also one of the leading states for motorcycle accidents. Brushing up on Texas’s motorcycle laws can help you stay safe while you ride.

Motorcycle License Requirement

Texas law requires all motorcycle operators to obtain regular driver’s licenses as well as a Class M certification. This type of license can only be acquired after taking an approved motorcycle safety course and bringing the certificate of completion to a driver’s license office. The certificate of completion is only valid for two years from the date of issuance.

If the operator is between the ages of 15 and 17, he or she must obtain a Class C learner license and complete at least 32 hours of an in-class driver education course or provisional driver’s license before enrolling in the required motorcycle safety course. All motorcycles must also have valid registrations to be operated in the State of Texas.

Minimum Motorcycle Insurance Coverage for Riders in Texas

Automobile insurance is mandatory for motorcycle riders in Texas. The Texas Department of Insurance lists the following minimum required amounts of motorcycle insurance:

  • Bodily injury liability insurance per person: $30,000
  • Bodily injury liability insurance per accident: $60,000
  • Property damage liability insurance: $25,000

Liability insurance pays for the medical bills and property repairs of others involved in a crash, not the policyholder. Motorcyclists can choose to pay for additional types of insurance to cover their own losses.

Texas Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Motorcycle operators and passengers are required to wear proper protective headgear under Texas Transportation Code, Section 661.0015. However, there are two major exceptions to this rule if the rider is over the age of 21:

  1. The rider has completed a motorcycle safety course, or
  2. The rider has health insurance that can cover accident-related injuries.

In these situations, a rider over the age of 21 does not legally have to wear a helmet in Texas. However, doing so can greatly reduce the odds of suffering a serious or fatal head injury in a motorcycle accident. Eye protection is also required of all motorcycle riders.

Required Motorcycle Equipment

Before a motorcycle can be driven on public roadways in Texas, it must have all of the required parts, components and equipment. The full list of required motorcycle equipment can be found in the Texas Motorcycle Operator Training Manual.

This list includes:

  • Horn
  • Mirror
  • Steering
  • Brakes
  • Tires
  • Exhaust system
  • Front head lamp
  • Rear tail lamp
  • Rear red reflector
  • Brake light

Driving without the required equipment can result in a traffic citation. Rules apply to specific parts, such as the law requiring a motorcycle’s handlebars to be no higher than 15 inches above the seat.

Daytime Running Light Requirement

Texas motorcycle riders are required to have their front head lamps turned on at all times while the vehicle is in operation. This is known as a “daytime running light,” and it is meant to reduce the risk of accidents by enhancing motorcycle visibility to other drivers.

Lane-Splitting Laws

Texas lawmakers officially prohibited the act of lane-splitting as of September 1, 2023. Texas House Bill 4122 amended Section 545.060 of the Texas Transportation Code to state that the operator of a motorcycle may not:

  • Operate the motorcycle between lanes of traffic moving in the same direction, or
  • Pass a motor vehicle while in the same lane as the vehicle being passed.

Violating the state’s prohibition against lane-splitting could lead to a fine of up to $200 and, in some circumstances, up to 30 days in jail. However, the most common penalty for a violation is a fine of $175.

Motorcycle Passenger Laws

In Texas, a motorcyclist may not ride with a passenger under the age of five years old on the vehicle. Passengers of any age are prohibited unless the motorcycle is designed to carry an additional rider, such as a second seat and passenger footrests. In addition, any passenger under the age of 21 must wear a helmet while riding.

Riding Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

Operating any type of motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated is against the law in Texas. Texas Penal Code 49.04 prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle, motorcycle or motor-driven cycle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance, including alcohol, drugs and prescription medications. Breaking this law is a misdemeanor that can come with fines and jail time.

Compensation Available for Motorcycle Crash Victims in Texas

Texas is a fault-based state, not a no-fault state, when it comes to determining who pays for traffic accidents. This means the person or party at fault for causing the accident will be financially responsible.

In a no-fault state, on the other hand, an injured party would seek compensation from his or her own insurer, regardless of fault.

The financial compensation available to an injured motorcyclist in Texas may cover:

  • Medical bills (past and future)
  • Motorcycle repairs or replacement
  • Lost wages and future capacity to earn
  • Scarring, disfigurement or disability
  • Pain, suffering and emotional trauma
  • Wrongful death damages, if applicable

An injured motorcyclist can seek compensation by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. All drivers in Texas are required to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance to pay for at-fault accidents.

If the at-fault party does not have insurance, a motorcyclist’s own carrier may cover the crash with uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance.

Statute of Limitations on Motorcycle Accident Claims in Texas

If you wish to pursue financial compensation for a motorcycle accident in Texas, you must take legal action within the state’s statute of limitations (a legal deadline for filing a claim). Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Section 16.003 gives most injured victims no more than two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. If you wait too long and miss your deadline, you will most likely forfeit the right to recover compensation.

Contact a Texas Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for More Information

Act quickly if you or a loved one was recently injured in a motorcycle accident in Texas. Contact an attorney at FVF Law to schedule a free case review. Our Austin motorcycle accident lawyers have more than 100 years of combined legal experience. We can guide you through every aspect of a motorcycle accident claim with personalized legal strategies.

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Fogelman & Von Flatern is a personal injury law firm that believes it matters why we practice law: to make sure good people in unfair circumstances who want reasonable options are taken seriously, especially by their attorney. We value transparency, compassion, and justice, and we strive to embody that in our practice. At FVF, you can trust that you've got the best people on your case, for the right reasons.

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