How to Get Your California Motorcycle License

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    If an article about how to get a California motorcycle license catches your attention, it could mean that you decided to trade your spot riding behind the operator to take over control of a motorcycle of your own. The other possibilities are that you are a newbie with no motorcycling experience or someone from out of state whose motorcycle license lapsed and you went to get back to riding.

    Whatever your reason for doing it, getting a license instead of risking fines and worse by riding without one is the right way to go. It’s also safer to know that you have at least a basic knowledge of the rules of the road and safe riding from passing the written and skills tests. 

    Types of Motorcycle Licenses

    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 operate any motorized bicycle, moped or bicycle with an attached motor.

    As the holder of a Class M1 license, you can operate any motorized vehicle in the M2 classification as well as any two-wheeled motorcycle.

    What is the difference between a Class M1 and Class M2 license

    With a Class M2, you can only operate any motorized bicycle, moped, or bicycle with an attached motor.On the other hand, 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

    Before 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. You can also purchase motorcycle insurance without having a motorcycle license.

    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 driver’s education and 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 Motorcycle License in California

    You’ll need to first 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.

     

    Now, follow this step-by-step to apply for a motorcycle Class M1 or M2 permit, you will need to:

    1. Visit your local DMV office (make an appointment for faster service)
    2. Complete application form DL 44 (Copies of this form will not be accepted.)
    3. Submit your thumbprint
    4. Have your picture taken
    5. Pay the application fee.
    6. Pass a vision exam
    7. Pass a traffic laws and signs test. You have three chances to pass the test.

    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. To complete the application, you must either take a weekend course given by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or choose to take the DMV driving test.

    FAQs about Getting Your Motorcycle Driver’s License in California

    Is the CA motorcycle permit test hard?

    The motorbike permit test is shorter than the standard driver’s license test, but you still need to put a lot of effort into your preparation if you want to pass. The motorcycle license test in California consists of 25 multiple-choice DMV test questions, at least 20 of which must be answered correctly.

    How many questions are on the CA motorcycle permit test?

    It has 30 questions

    What’s the minimum of correct answers to pass?

    24 correct answers to pass (80% passing score)

    What happens if you get pulled over without a motorcycle license in California?

    For instance, violating the law by operating a motorcycle in California without a valid license could result in a $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail. Driving without the proper license is never a wise idea, even though some states provide lenient sanctions for unlicensed drivers.

    Takeaways

    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 you can use 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 safety and defensive riding basics, such as driving in a tight circle, weaving through cones, applying the handbrake after accelerating to come to a hard, sudden stop, etc.

    • If you are over 21, you may 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 submitting your CHP certificate or passing your driving test, you will be issued an interim license valid for 90 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail.