Motorcycle Laws in Georgia
Riding a motorcycle can be a great way to enjoy the open road. This is especially true in North Georgia, where there is no shortage of beautiful scenery in any direction you decide to head.
At the same time, motorcyclists face more risks on the road than people in cars or trucks. Motorcycles are much smaller and lighter than typical vehicles, and without a 4,000-pound steel buffer, they lack the safety features of other vehicles. Motorcycle accidents are amongst some of the most fatal in Georgia.
Due to these additional risks, Georgia has enacted laws intended to protect motorcycle drivers, passengers, and those around them. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, do not wait to have a motorcycle accident attorney at Geiger Legal Group, LLC review your case for free.
Georgia Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Research shows that motorcyclists reduce their chance of serious brain and head injuries if they wear a helmet. In Georgia, it’s the law:
- Anyone operating or riding on a motorcycle must wear a state-approved helmet. The required protective headgear must comply with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards.
- DOT-compliant helmets do not restrict vision or important sounds and are labeled as DOT certified.
- A helmet equipped with a speaker must be for communication purposes only, not for listening to music.
- The helmet should include a protective face shield, or the operator or rider must wear approved goggles.
- The helmet must also fasten securely and be free of cracks or other defects.
When a motorcyclist without a helmet is injured in a crash, an insurance company may argue the rider was at least partially responsible for the injuries. This scenario could result in an injured victim being denied compensation for what happened or collecting a much smaller award.
Georgia Motorcycle License Requirements
Under Georgia law, drivers must obtain a Class M license to legally operate any motorcycle or motor-driven cycle at any time of day. This includes all types of motorcycles, such as motorbikes, scooters, and mini-bikes with engines that are 51cc or larger.
In order to qualify for a motorcycle license, drivers must be at least 17 years old, pass a vision exam, and either pass knowledge and road skills tests or take and pass a motorcycle safety program course. As with other motor vehicle licenses, the driver must show proof of identity and Georgia residency, plus proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful status.
Applicants under 18 must also have a parent/guardian or responsible adult sign their license application. They also must provide proof of school enrollment or a high school diploma or GED.
Requirements for Georgia Motorcycle Instructional Permit
Younger drivers who want to operate a motorcycle might consider applying for a Motorcycle Instructional Permit (Class MP). Motorcyclists with a Class MP license can operate motorcycles or motor-driven cycles in Georgia, but only under certain conditions. These drivers can only drive during daylight hours, they can’t carry a passenger, and they aren’t allowed to drive on limited access roadways.
The minimum age for a Class MP license is 16. Any applicant under 17 must also complete an approved Georgia Behind the Wheel Program and a certified Georgia driver training/driver education course. As with the Class M license, applicants for Class MP licenses also have to adhere to residency and citizenship requirements and pass a vision exam and the Georgia DDS Knowledge exam. Plus, they must get an adult to co-sign the application if they are under 18.
Visit the Georgia Department of Driver Services website for more information.
Is Lane-Splitting Legal in Georgia?
In some states, motorcycles can “lane-split,” i.e., they are allowed to weave between cars rather than stay in a designated lane. However, this practice is illegal in Georgia. Motorcyclists who lane-split can be cited by police for a traffic infraction and held responsible if they cause an accident.
Additional Motorcycle Safety Regulations in Georgia
Motorcyclists are required to carry valid insurance and registration and must comply with Georgia’s standard motor vehicle safety regulations. Georgia has enacted some added conditions specifically targeted at motorcycles:
- Motorcycle drivers are allowed to use the entire width of a lane when driving, or they can ride with no more than two motorcycles side-by-side in one lane. However, bikers cannot overtake another vehicle in the same lane as the vehicle they are passing.
- Motorcycles must also activate their headlights and taillights at all times.
- A motorcycle must be equipped with a passenger footrest.
Bikers can further protect themselves and passengers by following basic safety measures:
- Wear protective riding gear. Although helmets are required by law, motorcyclists can also reduce their chance of serious injury by wearing protective riding gear consisting of brightly colored or reflective material to make them more visible to other drivers. One of the most effective ways to protect the body from road rash, debris, adverse weather, or even parts of the vehicle is to wear jackets, pants, and boots that are made of leather or other sturdy materials that completely cover the arms, legs, ankles, and feet. Wearing gloves made of sturdy materials can also help protect hands and help improve gripping.
- Maintain the vehicle. Choose a bike that complies with basic standards, such as the distance between the handlebars and seat. And make sure it fits you properly. You should be able to touch the ground with your feet while seated. Before every ride, check the motorcycle to ensure all essential parts, such as the exhaust system, tailpipe, lights, turn signals, controls, and mirrors function correctly. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and regularly service the motorcycle.
- Stay alert. The ability to maintain balance and control is crucial. Motorcyclists must stay alert when they’re on the road and avoid driving when they’re ill, upset, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Contact a Georgia Motorcycle Lawyer
Motorcycle wrecks often have severe or even deadly consequences. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you need a dedicated personal injury lawyer who understands motorcycles and has handled cases like yours before. Contact our experienced motorcycle accident attorney at Geiger Legal Group, LLC today.
Your initial consultation is free, and there is no charge upfront to work on your case. In fact, you do not owe us anything unless we recover compensation for you.