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Can I Get a Motorcycle License Without a Driver’s License?

by John Gomez | Last Updated: September 1, 2021

Motorcycle License Without Driver’s License

Californians can get motorcycle licenses without possessing a driver’s license, though the requirements differ for those under 21. Obtaining a motorcycle license is a privilege. The freedom of the open road experience demands a dedication to safety by both operators and other drivers. If another driver failed to operate safely and, resulting in serious injuries or the death of a loved one, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. And if you are wondering about California motorcycle license requirements and what to do if you are a victim of a motorcycle accident, read on.

California Motorcycle License Requirements

Operating a motorcycle requires skill and concentration, and thus riders need a motorcycle license, regardless of whether or not they have a driver’s license.

Before the California Department of Motor Vehicles issues a motorcycle license, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Submission of a completed application
  • Pass a vision exam
  • Complete a traffic laws and signs test
  • Submit thumbprint
  • Have photograph taken
  • Pay application fee

Applicants who are 15.5 years old may apply for a motorcycle permit and then for a motorcycle license at age 16. A California driver’s license can help minors with the application process. However, an Identification Card Application signed by parents or legal guardians may suffice for those without driver’s licenses.

A California motorcycle license is something an applicant must earn.

Permit holders must adhere to the following rules:

  • No passengers
  • No freeway driving
  • No nighttime driving

Minor applicants ages 15.5 and older but under 17.5 must prove completion of the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) training course. While the course is not required for those age 21 and older, it is highly recommended by the DMV.

Why Motorcycle Training Is Essential

The motorcycle license application process is somewhat rigorous due to the dangerous nature of motorcycles. However, many go through it because, when operated correctly, a motorcycle can deliver an exhilarating experience unlike anything else.

Even as a rider is enjoying the road, they must stay vigilant about the traffic around them. Far too many automobile drivers fail to watch for motorcycles. According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) data, 42 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents occur at intersections. In some cases, no amount of training can protect you from a reckless driver. If another driver fails to yield the right of way, causing you serious injuries, a lawyer can help you fight for compensation. The damages you suffer should not be your financial responsibility.

Other forms of driver negligence that can result in serious and sometimes fatal motorcycle accidents include:

  • Blind spots: Nearly half of the area surrounding a personal vehicle has blind spots when seeing motorcycles. Proper mirror adjustment and looking back before lane changes to check blind spots can help prevent tragic accidents.
  • Lesser Visibility: The narrow profile makes a motorcycle more difficult to see. The NHTSA reports that drivers commonly overlook motorcycles or underestimate a motorcycle’s distance away.
  • Braking confusion: Many drivers are unaware that motorcyclists downshift or roll off the throttle rather than the brake, which takes longer to bring the bike to a stop. This method of slowing down requires drivers to maintain safe following distances.

Other driver behaviors that can significantly contribute to motorcycle accidents include:

Motorcycle gear only goes so far in protecting riders from serious harm. If you suffered severe injuries due to a careless driver, you should schedule a free case consultation with a California motorcycle attorney as soon as possible.

California Motorcycle Crash Injuries

A negligent driver can change a motorcyclist’s life forever. Depending upon the severity of your injuries, you may face a long recovery or a permanent disability. Even as your medical costs mount, your income may plummet if you are unable to return to work.

Hiring a motorcycle injury attorney to handle your claim can ease your stress as they manage your legal action for you.

The harm you experienced may involve:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): A bump, blow, or jolt to the head remains possible despite California’s helmet law. As helpful as a helmet can be in protecting your head, it cannot always prevent all damage. TBIs disrupt normal brain function, sometimes resulting in the need for a victim to have continuous care after the accident.
  • Spinal cord injury: This type of catastrophic injury affects movement and sensation. Motorcycle accident victims with a spinal cord injury can face a lifetime of medical and other related expenses.
  • Internal injuries: Accident wounds that are hidden are especially dangerous. An injury like that of internal bleeding can cause significant harm—and possible death—if left untreated. Seeking medical attention immediately after an accident is always a good idea, no matter how you feel following a crash.
  • Neck and back injuries: Serious neck and back injuries may require surgery and extensive physical therapy. Such injuries may prevent you from returning to a career you enjoyed.
  • Road rash: Any exposed skin is highly vulnerable to road rash when a rider is launched from their bike across a road surface. At its most severe, road rash can expose a bone and possibly result in infection.

These are a few examples of the types of injuries possible in a motorcycle accident. When another driver is at fault for a motorcycle accident, they should be held accountable for their negligence. Seeking the assistance of a California motorcycle attorney can help you learn more about how you can move forward with a motorcycle accident claim.

The Advantages of Hiring Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Recovering from a severe motorcycle accident can take weeks, months, or longer. The impact on your life—particularly your finances—can cause you anxiety and stress.

While you heal, a California motorcycle lawyer can help you during this difficult time by:

  • Collecting evidence
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Negotiating with insurance adjusters
  • Filing your civil lawsuit within the statute of limitations
  • Handling phone calls and paperwork

An insurance adjuster may attempt to settle with you before you contact a lawyer. However, the confusion and overwhelming aftermath of a motorcycle accident is not the time to make such a significant financial decision alone.

Hiring a lawyer to represent you can protect you from settling for less than you deserve. The insurance adjuster wants to protect the company’s best interests. A motorcycle accident lawyer wants to protect your best interests. It is best not to speak with insurance company representatives alone and, instead, retain a lawyer to speak on your behalf as soon as possible.

Fatal Motorcycle Accidents

Hundreds of fatal motorcycle accidents occur in California each year. The loss of someone you loved due to a careless driver is shocking and painful. If your loved one contributed to your household income, their loss can cause you to worry about how to afford the future.

A surviving family member can fight for compensation for economic and non-economic damages. Monetary damages, such as medical bills, are the actual expenses resulting from the accident. Non-economic damages include less tangible harm, like the loved one’s pain and suffering before death or loss of companionship.

Many families can’t pay the cost of a funeral, which typically averages thousands of dollars. You might recover those expenses through a wrongful death case.

Bringing a wrongful death claim on your own is difficult. A California wrongful death attorney can handle the details of your case and keep you informed of developments. This allows you more time to remember your loved one with family and friends.

Start With a Free Case Evaluation

No one expects a motorcycle ride to turn tragic. The changes a motorcycle accident brings to your life come in physical, emotional, psychological, and financial forms. When the accident is due to another driver’s negligence, they generally can be held liable for your damages.

But you still need to be able to prove the other driver is responsible. The best way to figure out how to do this is to contact an experienced motorcycle attorney. Contacting an attorney for a case evaluation is easy and, in most cases, free. This provides you a no-commitment opportunity to learn about your legal options.

Sharing the details of your accident with someone who understands the civil process is essential. A lawyer can identify important facts of your accident and determine if you have a strong case. A free case evaluation is an important first step following a motorcycle accident. Civil law firms are here to help accident victims. A lawyer that is professional, compassionate, and equipped to bring your motorcycle claim is just what you need after the accident.

What Is a Contingency Fee?

After a motorcycle accident, you have enough financial worries due to climbing medical expenses and the loss of an income-earner. With all of these mounting financial pressures, many motorcycle accident victims fear they cannot afford to hire a lawyer. However, most California personal injury or wrongful death lawyers work on an affordable contingency fee basis, which ensures an affordable lawyer for any injured victim.

What this means for you is not having to pay anything upfront to have the essential services of an attorney. Furthermore, whether you pay legal fees is contingent upon the success of your case. If your lawyer does not secure compensation for you, you do not pay their legal fees. If your lawyer recovers compensation on your behalf, they take their legal fees from a percentage of your settlement or court award.

Understanding the fee-arrangement process most motorcycle accident lawyers can remove the barrier to obtaining legal help. In addition, the knowledge that you only pay if and when your lawyer wins your case virtually eliminates any large-scale financial risk of hiring a lawyer.

Compensation in a motorcycle accident case is never promised nor guaranteed. Your lawyer will fight for the best possible outcome of your case. A majority of civil cases settle without ever going to court. However, if necessary, you should have a lawyer who is ready to take your case to trial to fight for the court to order compensation.

Why Motorcycle Safety Is Crucial for Everyone

All drivers have a responsibility to share the road safely. This is especially important for keeping motorcycle riders safe. Simple things like adjusting mirrors to obeying traffic laws, sharing the road can save lives.

Completing the steps to earn your motorcycle license is important and the best way to prepare for the responsibility of riding. While young riders must take the safety-training course, older drivers can benefit from the course too, and should seriously consider it.

But, in the end, a motorcyclist’s training is just part of what determines whether an accident will happen. To keep motorcyclists safe, other vehicle drivers must watch carefully for motorcycles. Failure to do so can change everyone’s life in an instant. The overall impact on your quality of life can be devastating.

Motorcycle Are Everywhere

If you enjoy riding in the California sunshine, you are not alone—more than California has registered 800,000 motorcycles. Riders should feel safe on the road like everyone else. When other drivers use care they can prevent thousands of motorcycle accident injuries and hundreds of fatalities.

The dangers associated with riding a motorcycle should not deter you from obtaining a license. However, obeying traffic laws and watching for dangerous drivers can help to prevent a tragedy. When a tragic accident occurs, and another driver is negligent, a lawyer can help you recover the compensation you need. It is difficult to determine your long-term financial needs as you adjust to your injuries and losses. A lawyer experienced in motorcycle accident cases understands how to build a strong case for fair compensation.


Gomez Trial Attorneys
655 West Broadway, Suite 1700
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619)-237-3490
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