California Motorcycle Laws for 2020

Attorneys serving the South Bay Area and San Francisco including Redondo Beach, Torrance, Manhattan Beach and Nearby Cities

First-person view of motorcycle handlebars

In the state of California, you must either pass a CHP-approved motorcycle safety course or a driving test issued by the DMV to obtain a motorcycle license. If you are under the age of 21, you must also hold a motorcycle instruction permit for at least six months and successfully complete a motorcycle training course before you can apply for a license.

California Motorcycle Safety Equipment Requirements

All motorcyclists in the state of California are required to wear a DOT-approved helmet at all times. It is a good idea to also wear leather pants and jackets, gloves, and boots to help prevent serious injury in the case of a motorcycle accident. It is also highly recommended, though not required, that goggles or a face shield be used while riding.

In addition to helmets, California motorcycle laws require that all bikes have:

  • A right and left mirror
  • Two operating turn signals (unless the bike was built before 1973)
  • Working front lamp (on at all times)
  • Working brake lights

Motorcycles in California cannot have a handlebar that rises more than six inches above the driver’s seated shoulder level. This prohibits most, but not all, ape hangers.

Motorcycles built after 2013 must comply with the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act, which places limits on the noise output of exhaust systems.

Can I Split or Share a Lane in California?

It is legal to share a lane with another motorcycle in the state of California. Lane splitting is also permitted so long as it neither blocks nor interferes with the normal flow of traffic.

Keeping Yourself Safe

The California Motorcycle Handbook has several tips and pointers for keeping yourself safe while riding. These include wearing appropriate safety gear, being familiar with your bike, and keeping it in proper working order. It is always a good idea to check over your motorcycle before you ride, including tires, fluids, lights, and signals, to help ensure guard against avoidable problems.

It is important to remember that even the safest motorcyclists cannot always prevent an accident. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, Kirtland & Packard is here to help.

Call our Redondo Beach office at 310-536-1000 to schedule your free case review today. We serve Torrance and all surrounding South Bay communities.