How to get a Motorcycle License in Michigan

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by Joshua on June 03, 2013

Owning a motorcycle can be a fun and rewarding past time, but it important to follow all of the rules of safety while out for a ride. Most states require you to apply for a motorcycle license in addition to your normal license to assure that you are aware of all the laws regarding motorcycles. Each state has specific laws regarding not only traffic laws, but the use of headgear and even the specifics of your motorcycle itself. As of 2012, Michigan no longer requires riders to wear a helmet. In order to qualify however you must be:

  • At least 21 years old.
  • Have passed your safety test within the last two years

Before you begin the three part process of receiving your motorcycle license in Michigan, be sure that you meet the states minimum requirements to proceed. In order to apply for a motorcycle’s license in Michigan:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Hold at least a Level 2 Graduated License
  • Pass a vision and hearing screening through the DMV

Take the Motorcycle Safety Course

The motorcycle safety course is offered by many private agencies across Michigan including local community colleges. It combines both classroom and range training for riders of any experience level and covers basic to advanced driving skills. It is designed to provide riders with the key skills necessary to practice safe driving while out enjoying this exciting hobby. Due to weather conditions in Michigan, this course can only be offered from April until September so be sure to reserve your space in a class as quickly as possible. This course is an excellent way to prepare for your road test through the Michigan Department of Motor Vehicles, however it is only required in the following cases:

  • If you are new driver under the age of 18.
  • If you are over 18 and have failed the road test more than twice.

So it is important to study and practice before your test to avoid having to be required to take the safety course again.

Register Your Motorcycle with the Department of Motor Vehicles

A motorcycle license differs from that of a regular license in that you must actually have a motorcycle before you can test for your license. There are specific requirements for safety, noise level and size that your motorcycle must pass in order to be considered street legal. When purchasing your motorcycle, take a copy of the Michigan Motorcycle License handbook along with you and use it as a guide to assure the bike you wish to purchase meets state standards. You must be able to handle the bike as well, and will be asked to prove your feet can touch the ground, as well as that you can safety hold it upright while stopped. You will also be asked to provide proof of insurance for this motorcycle at the time of your test.

Your Written Motorcycle Test

Just as you were required to take a written test when you received your driver’s license for the first time, you will be required to pass a written test issued by the Michigan DMV to obtain a license for your motorcycle. You can study for your test using the Michigan Motorcycle Manual and learning the laws specific to your motorcycle. Some of these laws include:

  • The specific requirements for a motorcycle to be driven in Michigan
  • Laws regarding head gear and other safety equipment
  • Practicing defensive driving as a motorcyclist
  • Requirements, laws and safety regarding passengers
  • How to handle an emergency
  • Drinking, Drugs and motorcycles
  • Because there are several types of two-wheeled operating licenses in Michigan, be sure you know what the DMV describes to be a motorcycle.

It is also recommended that you take a few practice tests before and while you are studying the Michigan Motorcycle Handbook to assure you are gaining all the knowledge you need to pass the test on the first try.

The Road Test

Passing a road test is the final requirement for receiving your motorcycle license in Michigan. It is a two part test, with some driving on the road and some on a range environment. For both parts of this test you will be observed by a trained professional. Before you can take this test, you must have:

  • Obtained your temporary permit and if required, attended a safety course.
  • Passed your written skills assessment given by the Michigan Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Successfully registered your motorcycle with the DMV.

The test will begin with a five minute inspection of your motorcycle to assure it meets all Michigan safety standards and laws. The evaluator will observe as you perform a series of maneuvers on the range including U-turns, sharps turns and weaving through cones to assure you have proper control of your motorcycle. You must be able to keep the engine running without stalling during this test. If you drop your motorcycle at any time continue on with the test, it does not mean an automatic fail.

Now that you have passed your written and road test, you are ready to cruise the roads. Be mindful of safety practices at all times, there are far more hazards on the roadways for motorcycles than normal passenger cars. Keep in mind other drivers on the road and remember to remain a defensive driver, it is your best weapon against injury.

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