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5 Laws that Pennsylvania motorcyclists need to know

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2021 | Motorcycle Accidents |

According to PennDOT, there are almost 850,000 licensed motorcyclists in the state. If you are one of them, you probably ride as much as you can during the summer. However, you can’t just hop on your bike and go. There are Pennsylvania motorcycle laws that everyone, especially new riders, needs to be aware of. 

1. Motorcycle helmet requirements

You already know that wearing a motorcycle helmet is a safe and smart thing to do. However, Pennsylvania law does not require everyone to wear one. You are exempt if you:

  • Are 21 years of age or older and
    • Have had your motorcycle license for at least two full calendar years or 
    • You completed a PennDOT motorcycle safety course

You must wear a helmet if you:

  • Are under the age of 21 
  • Have a motorcycle learner’s permit, regardless of your age

If the operator is exempt from wearing a helmet, the rider is exempt as well, if they are 21 or older. 

2. Special rules for motorcycle operators under 18

If you are under 18 years of age, there are additional requirements you must meet before you can get your motorcycle license. You are required to:

  • Have your learner’s permit for at least six months
  • Clock 65 hours of supervised riding
  • Complete a Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Rider Course

The Basic Rider Course can be taken online or in person.

3. Yes, you really do need a class ‘M’ license

Pennsylvania takes this seriously, so don’t think you can take your friend’s bike for a spin around the block. If you’re caught operating a motorcycle without a class “M” license, you’ll be fined up to $200. And, the bike may be towed and impounded.

4. Autocycles have different regulations

Autocycles are three-wheeled vehicles that are registered as motorcycles but drive like cars. They have traditional car seats, a steering wheel and gas and brake pedals. Because autocycles handle differently than a two-wheeled motorcycle, you do not need a class “M” license to drive one in Pennsylvania. You can drive an autocycle if you have a class “C” license. 

You do, however, have to abide by the state’s motorcycle helmet laws. All passengers in an autocycle must be at least eight years old.  

5. Class ‘M’ licenses for three-wheeled motorcycles have restrictions

If you plan to drive a three-wheeled or “trike” motorcycle, you will need to get a class “M” license. However, if you do your test on a three-wheeled motorcycle, that is the only type of motorcycle you will be licensed to operate. You will have a “9” restriction on your license, which indicates that you are prohibited from operating a two-wheeled motorcycle. If you test on a two-wheeled motorcycle, you will be allowed to operate either type.