Florida motorcycle laws and culture make this place a motorcycle rider’s paradise: the warm salty breeze of sea air, plentiful sunshine, and a landscape dotted with historic towns and sightseeing opportunities make it the perfect place to ride. Locals and tourists hit Florida roadways yearly to soak up the sun and enjoy everything the state offers, from unique motorcycle events like Biketoberfest to a simple everyday commute.
At Cardoso Law, PLLC, we believe motorcyclists deserve to enjoy Florida’s palm street-lined roadways. Unfortunately, careless motorists can turn a leisurely ride into a nightmare in the blink of an eye. If a reckless motorist caused an accident that injured you, call Cardoso Law, PLLC, today. You’ll get a free consultation with a motorcycle accident lawyer about how to pursue the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
In the meantime, how can you protect yourself? Step one is learning more about Florida’s motorcycle laws.
Motorcycle Gear Required by Florida Law
It’s a fact. Helmets save lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motorcycle helmets help reduce the risk of death by 37 percent for riders and 41 percent for passengers. They also reduce the risk of significant head injuries by at least 69 percent.
While it is always a wise choice to wear a motorcycle helmet, Florida law does not require riders over the age of 21 to wear a helmet when riding if they carry at least $10,000 in medical benefits coverage for crash-related injuries. Motorcycle operators and passengers under 21 must wear a properly fitted helmet that complies with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standards.
Whether you choose to wear a helmet or not, all riders, without exception, must wear DOT-approved eye protection like goggles. Approved helmets and goggles should be clearly labeled and include a DOT-approved label or sticker. Avoid novelty helmets and eye protection that do not adhere to the strict safety guidelines established by the federal government.
Although not required by law, riders should also consider wearing sturdy footwear like boots and gloves. The Florida sunshine may feel incredible beating down on your back or bare legs, but road rash is an all too common and excruciating injury you can prevent by wearing the right gear. Boots, chaps or leather pants, and a leather jacket are the best tools for protecting against road rash.
Required Equipment for Motorcycles
Florida law requires all motor vehicles, including motorcycles, to have operational brakes on all wheels. Horns, headlights, rear reflectors, taillights, and turn signals are also necessary. Mirrors that reflect a view of the highway of at least 200 feet are also required.
Generally, brakes, lights, and mirrors are requirements for all Florida motor vehicles, not just motorcycles. However, there are some equipment requirements unique to bikes. For example, Florida law prohibits motorcycles outfitted with exhaust systems that are louder than those equipped initially.
There are also handlebar restrictions in place. The handlebars of a motorcycle cannot be higher than the operator’s shoulders. Handlebars or handgrips higher than the tops of a rider’s shoulders are strictly prohibited when the operator is correctly seated on the bike.
Motorcycle Passenger Laws in Florida
Many riders want to share their unique sense of freedom while riding with others. However, for the safety of everyone on the road, Florida has strict passenger laws to protect riders and the people they transport. For a motorcyclist to comply with Florida passenger laws, they must have a passenger seat on the motorcycle, and the bike’s design must allow it to carry more than one person. Passengers must also ride facing forward with one leg on each side of the bike. In addition to a designated passenger seat or spot, passengers must have their own footrest unless the bike has a sidecar or enclosed cab.
What Riding Laws Apply to Motorcyclists in Florida?
Motorcycles are unique vehicles with more agility and maneuverability than cars and other vehicles. There are separate Florida motorcycle laws in Florida that generally only apply to motorcyclists. A common maneuver some riders use to circumvent stalled or slow-and-go traffic is called lane splitting. Lane splitting occurs when a biker rides between two lanes of slow or stopped traffic traveling in the same direction, typically on a multi-lane roadway or highway. According to State Law, passing in the same lane is illegal in Florida. California is the only state in the U.S. that has explicitly legalized lane splitting for motorcyclists.
When on an outing with other motorcyclists, it is vital to remember that Florida law for motorcycles does not permit motorcycle operators to ride two abreast in a single lane. Florida statutes prohibit drag racing, speeding, acceleration tests, and “stunting.” Both bike wheels must always make contact with the road, and the motorcycle operator must remain seated, facing forward, with one leg on either side of the vehicle.
Nothing sets the mood for a good ride like road music. However, headphones and other listening devices can prevent you from hearing surrounding noises while riding. Motorcyclists may wear one earpiece to listen to music as long as the other ear is unobstructed and can hear car horns or emergency sirens.
Tags Required to Ride a Motorcycle in Florida
To be considered street legal, all motorcycle owners must register their bike with the state, just like you would a car. Individuals can find motorcycle plate applications at any local county license plate agency. The initial registration fee for most motorcycles is $225.00. Renewal fees are less and vary based on the license plate type, vehicle weight, and other factors. The registration sticker on motorcycle license plates is typically located in the upper right-hand corner of the plate. New stickers are issued annually when an individual renews their registration. Riding without current and valid registration tags can result in significant fines and potentially suspending an individual’s driver’s license.
Registration tags must adhere to the rider’s license plate and remain clearly visible. At no point can registration information be obstructed. Additionally, motorcycles must have a white light illuminating the rear registration plate to help keep it visible from a distance of at least 50 feet. Failing to light a rear registration plate can lead to a nonmoving violation.
Do You Need a Motorcycle Endorsement to Ride in Florida?
A valid Florida driver’s license does not automatically mean you can hit the road on two wheels. Operating a two or three-wheeled vehicle with an engine size of more than 50 cc requires a motorcycle endorsement. Operating a motorcycle without a valid driver’s license endorsement or a motorcycle-only license is illegal.
To gain a motorcycle endorsement in Florida, you must:
- Hold a valid driver’s license
- Complete a Basic Rider Course or a Basic Rider Course update with an authorized sponsor
Once individuals complete the required motorcycle safety course, they have one year to obtain a motorcycle license endorsement. The license endorsement process can be completed at any driver’s license or tax collectors’ office that issues driver’s licenses by providing a valid ID and paying the required endorsement fees.
If a motorist has a valid driver’s license and motorcycle endorsement from another state, Florida will reciprocate the endorsement, and a motorcycle safety course will not be required. However, Florida will only reciprocate those with Alabama driver’s licenses with a motorcycle endorsement if the individual also presents a Motorcycle Safety Foundation or Basic Rider Course completion card.
To earn a motorcycle-only license, an individual must:
- Be at least 16 years of age and hold a valid Learner’s License for one year with no traffic violations
- Pass the knowledge test for a Class E driver’s license
- Complete a Basic Rider Course or a Basic Rider Course update with an authorized sponsor
A motorcycle-only license allows individuals to operate only two or three-wheeled motorized vehicles. Individuals under 16 are prohibited from legally operating motorcycles, mopeds, and motorized scooters on Florida roadways. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles division also provides motorcycle riders with an informative handbook to help them understand Florida laws and safety regulations.
Contact a Florida Motorcycle Accident Lawyer to Learn More
Preparing to explore Florida on two wheels and navigate the laws surrounding motorcycles in the state can be challenging. Even more challenging is recovering the money you deserve if a careless Florida driver hits you. At Cardoso Law, PLLC, we want to help you pursue the maximum compensation possible while delivering the compassionate and respectful service you deserve. Motorcycle accidents can be frightening events. Don’t move forward without the help of an experienced Florida motorcycle accident attorney by your side.
Our legal team has a long track record of helping people like you recover the money they need to move forward with their lives. If you hire us, you won’t pay any money upfront. We’ll get paid if we get money for you. If we don’t get compensation for you, you won’t owe us any fees.
For more information and to arrange a free legal consultation, contact our office today.