What Is The Legal Age To Drive A Motorcycle?

person driving a motorcycle in a highway
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There’s something about motorcycles that makes people want to strap on a helmet and ride. It may be the unobstructed panoramic view you enjoy from the seat of a motorcycle, or the ability to experience the ocean breeze without having to lower the windows. Yes, cruising on a motorcycle is certainly a unique experience.

If you need proof of the popularity of motorcycle riding, just take a look at the more than 8.3 million motorcycles currently registered in the United States. There are eight million folks across the country who learned to ride, took their road test, and now have motorcycle licenses without owning a bike of their own.

Whether your ultimate goal is to own and drive a motorcycle or simply want the ability to borrow or rent a bike and head out for a ride, you need a motorcycle license. Motorcycles are classified as motor vehicles, so you need a state-issued license to legally operate one on public roads.

Legal Age To Drive A Motorcycle

Each state sets its own licensing requirements for motorcycles, which typically include a written test to gauge your knowledge of state laws and general rules of the road. This is usually followed by a road test to ensure that you have the ability to actually ride without hurting yourself or others. The minimum age to drive a motorcycle depends on the law in the state where you live. Many states also have minimum ages for the passengers invited to enjoy the motorcycling experience with you.

Staying safe and accident free begins by learning how to ride and fulfilling your state’s requirements for a motorcycle license, and then choosing the safest motorcycle. Here to help you is valuable information about age limits for licensing in each state along with what it takes to get a license to legally ride.

State-by-state Guide

With the price of gasoline at record-high levels, motorcycles offer a fuel-efficient and economical alternative to four-wheeled vehicles, plus they are really fun to ride. The last thing you want is to use the money you’re saving on gas to pay attorney fees, court costs and fines for tickets you are certain to get for operating without a license.

At the very least, the written test to get a permit makes you a safer rider by forcing you to learn the traffic laws and rules of the road for your state. Even if you already have a license to drive a car, some of the rules that apply to operation of a motorcycle, such as those pertaining to carrying passengers, do not apply to cars or trucks.

The skills test ensures that you have the basic skills needed to safely control a motorcycle. You can improve on that by taking one of the motorcycle safety and skills courses given throughout the country by organizations approved by your state’s motor vehicle agency.

US map showing legal information state by state of the minimum age to drive a motorcycle
Legal Age to Drive a Motorcycle (State-by-state)

You need to be the minimum age for a motorcycle license based on the law in your state, so here is information about age requirements for each of the 50 states:

  • Alabama: Minimum age 16.
  • Alaska: Minimum age 14 for a permit and 16 for a license.
  • Arizona: Minimum age for a permit is 15 years and six months and age 18 for a license. You can get a license at 16 provided you have a permit for at least six months.
  • Arkansas: Minimum age is 16.
  • California: Minimum age is 16, but you must have a learner’s permit for at least six months unless you are 21.
  • Colorado: Minimum age for motorcycle license is 16.
  •  Connecticut: Minimum age is 16.
  • Delaware: Minimum age is 17 provided you complete and pass a motorcycle safety class; otherwise, the minimum age for a license is 18.
  •  Florida: Minimum age is 16.
  • Georgia: Minimum age is 17.
  • Hawaii: Minimum age is 16, but applicants younger than 18 years of age must have a permit for at least 90 days and pass a motorcycle safety course to get a license.
  • Idaho: Minimum age is 15, but you must complete and pass a motorcycle safety course and take a road test to get your license before age 21.
  • Illinois: Minimum age is 16 with satisfactory completion of a safety course; otherwise, you must be 18 years old.
  • Indiana: Minimum age is 16 years and three months with completion of a safety course. 
  • Iowa: Minimum age is 16 for a license and 14 for a permit.
  • Kansas: Minimum age for a license is 16 and 14 for a permit. The license is restricted until the person turns 17.
  • Kentucky: You must be 18 to get a permit, or 16 if you have a driver’s license, to get a motorcycle endorsement.
  • Louisiana: Minimum age is 16 for a motorcycle license.
  • Maine: Minimum age is 16.
  • Maryland: Minimum age for a license is 16 years and six months, but it is only 15 years and nine months for a permit.
  • Massachusetts: A restricted license is available at age 16 years and six months with an unrestricted license at age 18.
  • Michigan: The minimum age is 16, but you need to pass both a rider education course and a road test. If you are at least 18, you can take a rider education course to waive the road test.
  • Minnesota: Minimum age is 18, but riders who are at least 16 may get a license by taking a motorcycle safety course.
  • Mississippi: You must have a Mississippi driver’s license and be at least 17 to apply for a motorcycle endorsement.
  • Missouri: Minimum age is 15 years and six months.
  • Montana: If you have a Montana driver’s license, you must be 16 years old to apply for a motorcycle license or age 15 with completion of an approved motorcycle safety course.
  • Nebraska: Minimum age is 17 provided you had Provisional Operator’s Permit, which is also know a junior driver’s license in Nebraska for at least 12 months.
  • Nevada: Minimum age for a permit is age 15 years and six months, and you must have it for at least six months and complete a motorcycle safety course to apply for a motorcycle license before age 18.
  • New Hampshire: Minimum age is 16 with driver’s ed or 18 without it, but either way, you need a New Hampshire driver’s license to get a motorcycle endorsement.
  • New Jersey: Minimum age is 17 with completion of a motorcycle safety course or 18 without the course. If you do not have a New Jersey driver’s license, you must wait until you are 21 to get a permit for a motorcycle-only license.
  • New Mexico: Minimum age is 15 for a motorcycle license, but you can get a license at age 13 that restricts you to motorcycles with small-displacement engines.
  • New York: A junior or restricted license is available at age 16 with an unrestricted license at age 17.
  • North Carolina: Minimum age for a license is 16.
  • North Dakota: Minimum age for a license is 14 years old, but you must take and pass a motorcycle safety course if you are younger than 16,
  • Ohio: Minimum age for a permit is 15 years and six months. You must have a permit for at least six months to apply for a license if you are younger than 18.
  • Oklahoma: You must be at least 14 years old to get a permit. You may apply for a motorcycle-only license after having the permit for six months.
  • Oregon: If you have an Oregon driver’s license, you may apply for a motorcycle endorsement when you are 16 years of age.
  • Pennsylvania: 16 is the minimum age for a motorcycle license, but you need at least six months of riding instruction and completion of a safety course to get a license.
  • Rhode Island: Minimum age for a license is 16 after having a permit for 30 days and taking a safety course.
  • South Carolina: Minimum age is 15, but you need to pass driver’s education and have a permit for at least six months to take a road test before you turn 17. The conditions do not apply if you are at least 18 years old.
  • South Dakota: Minimum age for a permit is 14 and for a license is 16 provided you have a permit for at least six months or 30 days with completion of a safety course. No conditions apply when the applicant is 18 years old.
  • Tennessee: Minimum age for a permit is 15 and 16 for a license.
  • Texas: Minimum age is 15 for a license.
  • Utah: Minimum age is 16, but you must have a driver’s license.
  • Vermont: Minimum age for a license is 16 with a Vermont driver’s license.
  • Virginia: You can get a permit at 15 years and six months and a license nine months later.
  • Washington: Minimum age for a license is 16 with an approved safety course.
  • West Virginia: Minimum age for a license is 16 provided you have a permit for at least seven days.
  • Wisconsin: Minimum age is 16 with completion of a safety course; otherwise, you must wait until age 18.
  • Wyoming: Minimum age for a license is 17.

Laws frequently change, so use the information in this article as a basic guide that you should confirm by checking with the agency in your state responsible for issuing motorcycle licenses. Most states offer resources to potential applicants containing all of the current legal requirements for licensing, including how old to get motorcycle license.

What Do You Need To Get Your Motorcycle License?

Each state establishes the requirements you need to meet to be issued a motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement to a driver’s license. Typically, you must take and pass a written knowledge test to receive a learner’s permit. Some states require that young riders have their permit for a minimum time before applying for an actual license. For example, California requires you to have the permit for at least six months.

Most states now require completion of a motorcycle safety course as a condition to getting a motorcycle license. Many states waive the road or skills test when you pass the skills test that is part of the course.

Although you now have the answer to the question, “What age can you get a motorcycle license,” there is another age-related matter to touch upon. Many states have laws imposing minimum age restrictions on passengers you invite to ride with you. Before riding with a passenger, particularly with children, check the law in your state to make certain they are old enough.

Conclusion

Make getting a motorcycle license the first step toward becoming a safe rider. It’s really not that difficult to do as long as you meet the minimum age requirement for your state. Once you have your license and the proper safety equipment starting with an approved motorcycle helmet, you’re on your way to cruising the highways.