New York State Motorcycle Laws

Personal Injury Attorney Serving The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan & New York City Areas


Motorcycles offer a practical way to get around New York. However, they’re also involved in an alarming number of serious and fatal accidents. That’s why safe riders make sure they’re properly licensed and take time to familiarize themselves with local traffic laws. 

Licensing and Permit Requirements

You must have a Class M or MJ Operator’s License or Learner’s Permit to drive a motorcycle in the state of New York. If you’re a learner who’s practicing, you must be supervised by a driver with a valid motorcycle license.

Getting licensed ensures that you have the skills and knowledge it takes to ride a motorcycle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 28% percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2018 did not have valid motorcycle licenses.

New York State Motorcycle Laws infographic

Gear and Equipment

A motorcycle helmet can save your life. It’s also your best defense against traumatic brain injury in the event of a crash. That’s why many states have enacted laws that require riders to wear helmets that meet federal safety standards. New York is no exception — motorcycle helmet use is mandatory for all riders.

Here are some other laws regarding gear and equipment in the Empire State:

  • Motorcycle helmets can only have one earphone.
  • All riders are required to wear approved eye protection.
  • Additional equipment, including a taillight, red rear reflector, and rearview mirror, is required.

Rules of the Road

Motorcyclists follow many of the same rules of the road as other drivers. However, some additional laws have been passed for safety. Those laws vary from state to state, so it’s important to make sure you are riding legally.

These are some of the laws that motorcyclists must obey in New York:

  • Daytime headlight use is mandatory.
  • A passenger seat and footrest are required if carrying a passenger.
  • Only two motorcycles may operate side by side in a single lane.
  • Lane splitting is illegal.

I Broke the Law — Can I Still Recover Compensation for My Injuries?

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident while lane splitting, riding three or more abreast, not wearing your helmet, or otherwise breaking the law, you may still be able to recover compensation. The key is to prove that the driver of the car did something that contributed to your crash. If our lawyer can accomplish this, you may receive money to help pay for your medical bills and expenses.

Request a Free Consultation Today

It doesn’t cost you anything to learn about your legal rights and options after a motorcycle accident. Call 212-406-9288 to request a free consultation with skilled attorney Reid B. Wissner. Our personal injury law firm serves clients in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and New York City areas.

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