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How to Get Your California Motorcycle License

How to Get Your California Motorcycle License
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Ready to become official and get your motorcycle license?

First thing you’ll need to do is pick up a copy of the Motorcycle Driver Handbook (either online or at your local DMV). The handbook contains much of the information needed to pass the written exam.

There are two classes of motorcycle licenses, Class M1 and Class M2. In most cases, you’ll want to apply for an M1 only. An M2 only enables you to drive a moped or a scooter.

  • With a Class M1, you can operate any 2-wheel motorcycle and any motorized vehicle in Class M2.
  • With a Class M2, you can only operate any motorized bicycle or moped or any bicycle with an attached motor.

How to Get Your California Motorcycle Learner’s Permit

Prior to getting a license, you must obtain a motorcycle permit. The permit is good for six months, during which you can practice riding and get comfortable on the bike. However, you are not allowed to ride your motorcycle on the freeway, during the nighttime, and with passengers.

California Motorcycle Learner’s Permit Requirements

To get a California motorcycle permit, you must:

  • Be at least 15 1/2 years old.
  • Already have a CA driver’s license OR submit proof that you have completed both driver’s education and driver’s training.
  • If you are under 21, you must complete a motorcycle rider training course given by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Upon completion, you will receive a certificate (DL 389), which you must bring to the DMV to be issued your license.

How to Get Your California Motorcycle License

To apply for a motorcycle Class M1 or M2 permit, you will need to:

After studying both the California Driver and the Motorcycle Handbooks, call your local DMV to schedule your appointment for the traffic laws and sign test. After you obtain your permit, you may apply for your license. In order to complete the application, you must either take a weekend course given by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or choose to take DMV driving test.

The California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP), administered by the CHP, is the official state-approved training course for bike riders. After completing the course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (Form DL 389), which can be used to earn a test waiver. The CHP course usually takes place over a weekend, and there is a fee. The DMV course requires no extra fee and takes only a few minutes. Both courses require you to complete the basics of safety and defensive riding, such as driving in a tight circle, weaving through cones, and applying the handbrake after accelerating to come to a hard, quick stop, etc.

  • If you are over 21, you may either choose to complete the course by CHP and provide the certificate OR schedule an Appointment(s) at DMV to take the driving test. You have three chances to pass the test.

For information about the CHP training course, please call 1-877-743-3411 or visit www.ca-msp.org.

After you have submitted your CHP certificate or passed your driving test, you will be issued an interim license valid for 90 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail.

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