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You've gone through a lot to fulfill your dream of hitting the road on your motorcycle. You have a valid motorcycle license designation but you must also follow special motorcycle laws to keep yourself and other travelers safe. If you travel between states or take a cross-country road trip, you must know each state's different motorcycle laws to stay compliant throughout your adventure. 

You should also understand what to do if you get into a motorcycle accident. Even if you follow every law and take every precaution, you can't always protect yourself against the carelessness of others.

Are Motorcycle Laws the Same in Every State?

Check the motorcycle laws in every state you plan to travel through, as there can be many variances. Pay particular attention to motorcycle helmet laws and motorcycle passenger laws, as law enforcement will easily spot violations. You should also check to ensure your headlights and other lights meet each state’s requirements. If you don't have the right equipment you may find yourself rerouting or canceling your trip.

Motorcycle laws primarily focus on safety. Riding motorcycles can be dangerous because they are smaller than other vehicles on the road, and riders and passengers have much less protection than people in cars. Motorcycles comprise only about 3% of the registered vehicles in the United States, but motorcyclists account for 14% of traffic fatalities.

Even if you have a valid motorcycle license from your home state, you must meet the safety and other requirements of each state that you enter.

Understanding Motorcycle Laws

Virginia is a great place to own a motorcycle. There are several wide-open spaces to explore, and even if you live in a bigger city like Richmond, it doesn't take long to get to open roads. Fluctuating gas prices make owning a motorcycle even more attractive. Understanding Virginia motorcycle laws help keep you safe on the road.

Motorcycle Licenses

In Virginia, you can add a motorcycle classification to your driver's license or get a standalone motorcycle license. The state offers three classes of motorcycle licenses, including:

  • M: Both two and three-wheeled motorcycles
  • M2: Two-wheeled only
  • M3: Three-wheeled only

A motorcycle license in Virginia is typically valid for eight years. Through the Virginia Rider Training Program, you can bypass the regular knowledge test, permit, and road test process. Instead, you’ll only need to bring your completion certificate to the DMV to add your motorcycle designation.

There are additional restrictions for people under the age of 18 who want to get a motorcycle permit and license.

Motorcycle Helmets and Protective Riding Gear Use

Virginia motorcycle helmet law requires that people on motorcycles wear helmets. It also requires motorcyclists to wear a face shield, safety glasses, or goggles for eye protection. This requirement is waived if your bike has safety glass or a windshield. Virginia motorcycle law dictates that helmets, glasses or goggles, face shields, and windshields must meet or exceed the standards of the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American National Standards Institute, Inc., or the federal Department of Transportation.

Virginia does not require protective clothing but recommends it in the motorcycle operating manual. You should always take protective measures, such as wearing gloves, long pants, a jacket, and closed-toe shoes when riding. Be sure to clean every mirror and double-check them for cracks each time before you hit the road.


You must have a proper seat to carry passengers on your motorcycle. Motorcycle passenger laws in Virginia require that the seat should be large enough that you don't have to sit further forward than usual to accommodate your passenger. Passengers must also have their own set of footpegs. The state recommends that you give your passengers instructions before riding, especially if they are new to being passengers.


In most cases, traffic laws that tell you where you can't park a car also apply to motorcycles. This includes anywhere within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or fire station and within 20 feet of intersection curb lines. 

There are some parking exceptions for motorcycles according to Virginia law. It allows two motorcycles to park in a single space designed for four-wheel vehicles. It also does not prohibit towns, cities, and counties from allowing three or more motorcycles in a space intended for one four-wheel vehicle.

Splitting Traffic Lanes

It is essential to understand the difference between lane filtering and lane splitting. Lane filtering involves motorcycle operators driving between two lanes of traffic that are stopped or moving very slowly in the same direction. Arizona, Utah, Montana, and Hawaii allow lane filtering, though each state law differs regarding traffic speed and other factors.

Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of motor vehicles that are moving in the same direction at roughly the same speed on a roadway. It is a controversial practice. Some motorcyclist advocacy organizations argue that it cuts down on hazards for riders, such as being rear-ended by another vehicle. Others say that it is unsafe because car drivers can't always see motorcycles that are splitting lanes. The only state that allows lane splitting is California.

Legislatures in several states, including Maryland, are considering changes to traffic laws to allow lane-splitting.

Suffering an Injury in a Motorcycle Accident

If you are injured in an accident, you need a motorcycle accident attorney with an intricate knowledge of Virginia negligence and motorcycle accident laws. Collecting damages after a motorcycle accident in Virginia is difficult because it uses a contributory negligence standard in personal injury cases. This means you cannot collect damages even if you were barely at fault for your accident. 

An experienced attorney can help you collect evidence and present it in a way that shows how the other driver was solely responsible for your accident. Contact an experienced attorney soon after your accident so they can get started on your case. The Virginia statute of limitations requires that you make your claim within two years of your accident.

Get in Touch With a Motorcycle Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact the Commonwealth Law Group. We treat every client with compassion and respect and offer personalized strategies that fit the unique circumstances of each case. We take great pride in fighting for justice and helping our clients get the compensation they deserve.

If you have been injured at work or through the negligence of another individual or entity, contact us at (804) 999-9999 or or use the form below to connect with our legal team. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.