Florida Motorcycle Laws

motorcycle accident law

Many people think that the same laws apply to both cars and motorcycles in Florida. While some laws apply to both, other important laws are specific to motorcyclists, such as insurance and licensing requirements. If you do not comply with Florida motorcycle laws, you could end up in serious legal trouble, especially after an accident.

Chiumento Law, PLLC, wants Florida motorcyclists to have all the information they need regarding the state’s motorcycle laws. This information will make it easier for motorcycle owners to comply with the law and protect themselves if they’re ever involved in a collision.

If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident in Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, or elsewhere in central Florida, our motorcycle accident attorneys can help you demand compensation for your losses – including your medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help you seek the financial recovery you deserve.

Motorcycle Insurance Coverage Requirements in Florida

It is worth doing a quick review of how auto insurance generally works in the Sunshine State before getting into Florida’s motorcycle insurance requirements.

Florida uses a no-fault system for most car accidents. When you purchase a Florida auto insurance policy, it will include Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. If you are involved in an accident, you will typically file a claim with your own insurance company, which should pay out PIP benefits to cover your medical bills and lost income. You can only sue the other driver if your injuries meet certain standards under state law.

The insurance requirements for motorcycles in Florida are quite different from those for cars. In Florida, motorcyclists need to register their motorcycles with the Department of Motor Vehicles. You do not have to have proof of insurance to register your motorcycle with the DMV. However, as a motorcyclist, you are financially responsible if found at fault in a motorcycle accident. Therefore, having a motorcycle liability insurance policy to protect you is strongly recommended.

A motorcycle owner can buy a motorcycle liability policy from a licensed Florida insurance provider. This is the option that most motorcyclists use to protect themselves.

A motorcycle owner also can seek a certificate of self-insurance by proving that you have the money available to pay for your losses if you are in a motorcycle accident.

Operators of motorcycles must wear a helmet unless they are over the age of 21 and carry a medical insurance policy providing at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries, according to the Official Florida Drivers License Handbook.

Operators of motorcycles do not have to have a Personal Injury Protection policy. Motorcycles are not considered motor vehicles under the state’s Personal Injury Protection laws. PIP benefits under your auto insurance policy may not be available if you are involved in an accident while riding a motorcycle.

Without these benefits or another applicable insurance policy, you could find yourself in serious financial trouble after a crash. We strongly recommend you purchase motorcycle insurance, even if Florida law does not require it. (627.736,  627.733)

Helmet Law for Motorcyclists in Florida

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), all riders and passengers under 21 years of age must wear a helmet, with no exceptions. Adults are permitted to ride a motorcycle without a helmet provided they meet both of these conditions (326.211):

  • They must be at least 21 years old.
  • They must carry an insurance policy with at least $10,000 in medical benefits.

The FLHSMV further clarifies that, because PIP coverage does not apply to motorcycles, you must have a separate insurance policy with at least $10,000 in medical benefits and carry proof of this insurance in order to legally ride a motorcycle without a helmet.

Even if you or your passengers are allowed to ride without a helmet in Florida, it is still recommended that everyone use U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant helmets at all times. This will help minimize the risk of serious injuries if you are involved in an accident.

Motorcycle Equipment Required by Law in Florida

Florida law requires all motorcycles to have certain safety equipment, specifically:

  • Brakes – All motorcycles must be equipped with brakes on both the front and rear wheels. (316.440)
  • Exhaust systems – Florida law prohibits motorcyclists from installing an exhaust system that is louder than the one installed at the factory. The exhaust system must also prevent excessive fumes or smoke. (316.455)
  • Handlebars – The height of a motorcycle’s handlebars cannot exceed the top of the rider’s shoulders when the rider is properly seated on the vehicle. (316.2095)
  • Horn – Motorcycles in Florida must be equipped with a horn that is audible from at least 200 feet away, and the horn must be kept in good working order. (316.455)

Motorcycle Personal Safety Equipment Required by Law in Florida

Florida law also requires the use of the following types of personal safety equipment:

  • Eye protection – All riders and passengers must use some sort of eye protection that meets safety standards set by the federal Department of Transportation. (326.211)
  • Helmets – Helmets are required for all riders under age 21. Riders aged 21 and over can ride without a helmet if they meet certain insurance requirements, though it is still a good idea to wear a helmet whenever you ride. (326.211)
  • Lights and mirrors – All Florida motorcycles must be equipped with working headlights, tail lights, reflectors, rearview mirrors, and turn signals. (326.400)(326.410)(326.415)(326.420)
  • Passenger seats – Any passenger on a motorcycle must have their own designated seat and footrest. (316.2085)

Motorcycle Lane Splitting Laws in Florida

Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides on the dividing line between two lanes of traffic heading in the same direction. Many motorcyclists argue that lane splitting keeps them safe by allowing them to escape dangerous situations in heavy traffic. Those opposed to lane splitting believe it puts both motorcyclists and other drivers in increased danger.

Regardless of the possible safety merits of lane splitting, it is illegal in Florida, and you could be cited if you are observed by police lane splitting (316.209). However, if you are involved in an accident while splitting lanes, that does not necessarily mean you are ineligible to recover compensation for your injuries. An experienced Florida motorcycle lawyer can help you understand how this might affect your case.

Motorcycle Endorsement in Florida

Anyone wishing to ride a two-wheeled or three-wheeled motorcycle in Florida with an engine bigger than 50cc must either have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license or hold a motorcycle-only license. The process of obtaining a motorcycle endorsement is different than obtaining a motorcycle-only license. (322.03)

Per the FLHSMV, to obtain a motorcycle endorsement for your Florida driver’s license, you must:

  • Hold a valid, unexpired Class E driver’s license
  • Complete a motorcycle safety course with an approved educator
  • Apply for your motorcycle endorsement within one year of completing the rider safety course
  • Visit a DMV office and pay the required fee

To obtain a motorcycle-only license in Florida, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Hold a Learner’s License with no prior convictions for at least one year, if you are under 18 years old
  • Pass a written knowledge test
  • Complete a motorcycle safety course with an approved educator
  • Visit a DMV office and pay the required fee

Keep in mind that if you have a motorcycle-only license, you are not permitted to drive a car or other vehicle that requires a Class E license.

Motorcycle Passenger Laws in Florida

If you are taking passengers with you on your motorcycle, it is important to follow these laws and guidelines:

  • Each passenger on board a motorcycle in Florida must have their own seat and footrest. (316.2085)
  • Once a motorcycle is in motion, passengers must not distract the driver.
  • Even if you or your passengers are exempt from wearing a motorcycle helmet, we recommend that everyone use them anyway as a safety precaution.

Required Tags in Florida

All motorcycles are required to have a rear-mounted license plate. The plate must be permanently secured to the motorcycle, and there should be a lamp to illuminate the plate at night. At night, the license plate must be visible from at least 50 feet away. (316.2085)

Contact a Palm Coast Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

Have you been injured in a motorcycle accident in the Palm Coast region? Do you have questions about motorcycle licensing, insurance, or safety laws? The attorneys at Chiumento Law are here to answer your questions and assist you. Since 1973, our full-service firm has served the Palm Coast and Ormond Beach areas with compassion and skill. We’ll put our vast knowledge of Florida motorcycle law to work for you. Contact us at (386) 445-8900 for a free consultation.

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