- Practice Areas
- Video Center
- Case Results
For some, nothing compares to the unique experience of riding a motorcycle. San Diego bikers enjoy an open-air riding experience in ideal weather. However, the trade-off of that experience is that a motorcycle lacks a substantial number of safety features. Motorcycles have no reinforced steel frames surrounding passengers, seat belts, or other protective safety systems that normal passenger vehicles do. When an accident occurs, bikers and their passengers often deal with harsh consequences.
The San Diego County Department of Motor Vehicles counts 85,488 registered motorcycles within its borders. California laws define them as vehicles. As such, bikers must comply with statutes that apply to cars and trucks. However, motorcyclists must further abide by motorcycle-specific laws. While the laws seem complex and burdensome, they are designed to address the unique risks of motorcycle operation and to keep riders safer.
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles publishes a California Motorcycle Handbook for current and prospective motorcyclists, which explains the relevant laws and requirements in plain language, with the disclaimer that the handbook is intended to serve as a summary of laws and regulations only.
Riders are subject to the exact language in the California Vehicle Code or implementing regulations. While almost no one is likely to read the code and try to figure out the legalese, San Diego motorcycle riders should have a general idea of what the laws are. This piece surveys such laws.
The California Vehicle Code is full of provisions specific to motorcycles. Unless you see a specific motorcycle exclusion, all general motor vehicle provisions also apply to San Diego motorcyclists.
Section 400 of the California Vehicle Code’s definitions section, Division 1. Words and Phrases Defined, defines what the state recognizes as a motorcycle. It further describes motorized devices that resemble and function similar to motorcycles but do not meet the definition. It is important to recognize that a motorcycle is also a vehicle, but that a vehicle must meet specific conditions to qualify as a motorcycle.
A vehicle must have the following to count as a motorcycle:
Section 400 also describes motorcycle-like vehicles, in which the definition establishes that they are not motorcycles.
Some motorcycle laws also apply to motorized bikes or mopeds. The definitions section defines motorized bikes as two- or three-wheeled devices with a maximum 30 mile per hour speed and four gross brake horsepower.
California Vehicle Code §12500 provides that, unless a person has a valid motorcycle license or driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement, they cannot drive a motorcycle on California roads or in an off-street parking facility. State license provisions contain exemptions, including:
A Class M2 licensed driver may drive any motorized bicycle, moped, or scooter. A person with a Class M1 license may drive any two-wheeled motorcycle, a motor-driven cycle, or a motorized scooter and any device authorized under Class M2.
Section §12509.5 explains the motorcycle Class M1 and Class M2 licensing process. An applicant must first obtain an instruction permit, which expires after 24 months.
Persons who hold instruction permits may ride with the following restrictions:
California’s Vehicle Code, Div 12. Equipment of vehicles, Chapter 5, Article 7, Motorcycles, provides mandatory motorcycle riding conditions, which are designed to address the safety issues unique to motorcycle riding. These laws apply to motorcycles and motorized bikes.
This section describes motorcycle and moped seating requirements. A passenger must ride on a securely fastened seat with footrests or in an attached passenger sidecar. Seated passengers must keep their feet on the footrests while the bike is moving.
Hemet laws apply to drivers and passengers riding motorcycles, motorized bicycles, or motor-driven bicycles. Both drivers and passengers must wear helmets that comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218: 49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.218.
As described in Chapter 5, Article 2.5, §27201 to §27202, Exhaust Systems, all vehicles subject to registration must have an exhaust system that prevents excessive or unusual noise. Motorcycle noise restrictions vary from private passenger vehicle restrictions, but the compliance test is the same. A vehicle must not exceed a specified noise level based on California Highway Patrol testing at 50-feet from the centerline of a roadway. The test determines an exhaust system’s dbA. Acoustics consultants Softdb explain that dbA is a weighted scale for judging loudness against the hearing threshold of the human ear.
For motorcycles, the allowable noise level varies depending on the cycle manufacture date.
A motorcycle’s exhaust system must comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Noise Control Act, noise emission standards. A San Diego motorcyclist cannot park, use, or operate a California-registered motorcycle unless the exhaust system bears the appropriate EPA sticker.
All San Diego vehicle operators must be able to verify their financial responsibility at all times. While driving, they must carry acceptable evidence.
In an accident, unless one or more drivers becomes incapacitated, they must exchange information, including:
Section 16020 provides what types of evidence prove an owner’s or driver’s financial responsibility.
You may be subject to a fine of up to $250 if you fail to comply with these post-accident requirements.
California’s motorcycle helmet law provides a brief paragraph that explains why the legislature added this requirement. It explains that the legislators wanted to provide a safety benefit for those who ride motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, and motorized bikes.
The helmet is one of the few pieces of equipment that has the potential to save a motorcyclist’s life, and even to spare a motorcyclist from sustaining more serious injuries in an accident. While it can’t prevent injury altogether, a helmet reduces the chance of severe and fatal injuries when an accident occurs.
If a motorcyclist is wearing a helmet at the time of an accident, they may still sustain varying degrees of lower-body trauma. Head injuries don’t occur as often, but when they do, they often cause more extensive damage than other types of injuries. Severe injuries sometimes occur when a crash ejects a biker onto the pavement or over a car’s hood.
You won’t always see blood, an open wound, or other externally visible injury evidence. Severe injuries often occur internally due to inevitable head blows and body jolts. Brain injury sometimes occurs when the brain moves around inside the skull.
The CDC’s Motorcycle Safety page explains how helmets reduce the chances of injury and death in the event of a crash. Their research shows that helmets provide significant protection to the head and brain, reducing a biker’s risk of death by an estimated 37 percent and risk of head injuries by 69 percent.
You should get an attorney if you are injured in a San Diego motorcycle accident. The claim process for a motorcycle accident case can become complicated very quickly. An experienced San Diego motorcycle accident injury attorney can help protect your legal and financial interests.
You might not hear from the person who injured you, but their insurance company investigator will probably come knocking on your door. Often, they will only collect information to see if they have grounds to deny or reduce your claim.
Generally, your initial meeting with a motorcycle accident injury attorney is free. You have a chance to ask important questions and learn about your legal options in a confidential setting. Ultimately, you decide if and when you want to take legal action.Posted in: Motorcycle Accidents
no fees unless we recover money on your behalf
"They are experts in what they do and are a pleasure to work with."
No Fees Unless We Recover Money On Your Behalf