How to Obtain Your Motorcycle License in California

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by Joshua on July 01, 2013

Driving a motorcycle can be a fun and rewarding past-time with the open winding roads and beautiful scenery in the state of California. Many find joy-riding to be a relaxing hobby and great way to unwind. In addition, driving a motorcycle for daily commute can be a practical alternative to your regular car or truck saving you gas and making it far easier to find a decent parking space. Regardless of your reason for wanting to drive a motorcycle, all drivers in the state of California wishing to operate a street-legal motorcycle must obtain a motorcycles license before driving. There are serious consequences for those that do not follow this law including tickets, suspension of your license, fines and in some cases physical injury to you or other drivers on the road.

Applying for your Motorcycle License

There are two classes of motorcycle licenses in California. The M1 class license allows you to ride any type of motorcycle or motorized vehicle that has an attached motor including mopeds and motorize bicycles. An M2 license is restricted only to moped and motorized bicycles. It is important to know ahead of time which license you are applying for as each has its own unique requirements and process. The following are general requirements for the state of California:

  • You must over the age of 18 to receive your M1 class motorcycle license. For the class M2 you must be at least the age of 16.
  • Regardless of your age, you are required to first obtain your learners permit and attend motorcycle driver’s training classes.

The first step in the application process is to obtain your learner’s permit from your local California Department of Motor Vehicles branch. On the day of application be sure to bring with you a photo ID, birth certificate and Social Security Card in order to prove identity and citizenship. In addition, if you are required to wear glasses or contacts while driving remember to let the branch offices know when you apply and bring them with you to the testing. The day of your application you can expect:

  • You will submit a DL 44 application at the Department of Motor Vehicles branch office.
  • Pass a vision test. Remember to wear your glasses or contacts. In addition, a thumb print will be required to keep on record with your license.
  • Pass the written driving skills test which includes traffic laws and signs. You can find all of the information ahead of time in the California’s Motorcycle Driver’s Handbook or online at websites such as DMVCheatsheets.com. Be sure to study in advance to avoid retakes.
  • Provide proof that you have successfully passed the motorcycle training course. This is mandatory for all potential drivers regardless of whether you have a standard license or none at all.
  • Pass the Motorcycle Laws test. This is a separate test strictly for laws regarding proper driving conduct for motorcycle drivers. You can find information for this test in the Handbook as well as at DMVCheatsheets.com, as well as practice tests to assure you are ready.
  • Pay the 32 dollar registration fee.

Remember that once you have received your motorcycle driver’s permit it will be good for one year. If you are not ready to take the final tests within that time you have to re-apply and repeat the process. You can re-take the test a maximum of three times so be sure that you are completely ready before moving on to this step of the process. If you are over 18 and already licensed there is not set amount of time required for practice with your permit so you may test when ready. However if you are under 18 you must practice a minimum of six months before you are allowed to take your final tests. Once you are confident in your motorcycle driving skills, you can move on to the final stages of receiving your license.

Testing for your Motorcycle License

If you are over the age of 21, you may register for the Basic rider training course, which will wave the written test. In any case, taking this course can lower your insurance rates so this is the best course of action to take. Less than 18 years of age cannot use this method and must be prepared to take the test. Before you take the test, be sure to study in order to assure you pass on the first try. Use the California Motorcycle Driver’s Handbook but there are addition sources online that will assure a passing score. Websites such as DMVCheatsheets.com offers exclusive tips and tricks for safe driving and passing your test. In addition this site offers practice tests you may take ahead of time to be sure you are ready, including practice road signs testing which is required for your motorcycle license.

Study hard and take as many practice tests as possible before taking your final driver’s test. These tests can help you to determine which areas you need to study more in order to assure a passing score on the first try. Driving a motorcycle or motorized bike can have many benefits but it is most important that you practice safe driving on the road. Motorcycles can be fun but remember there is increased danger so you must be fully prepared to drive on the road.

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