Ohio law defines a motorcycle as “every motor vehicle, other than a tractor, having a seat or saddle for the use of the operator and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground.” In Ohio, motorcyclists must have a Class M permit, license, or endorsement. You must be at least 15.5 years old to obtain a motorcycle permit, and all applicants younger than 18 years of age must also complete Motorcycle Ohio’s Basic Rider Course and meet the graduated driver’s licensing requirements. Those seeking a motorcycle permit, license, or endorsement should study the Motorcycle Operator Manual and the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws.
Motorcycle License Requirements
- Proof of residence
- Vision test
- Written knowledge test
- On-cycle skill test
The motorcycle permit is valid for one year from the date issued, and it allows you to ride a motorcycle with some restrictions: permit holders can ride only during daylight hours; they may not carry passengers or drive on congested roads and interstate highways; and they must wear helmets and eye protection. To obtain a motorcycle license, you must hold the permit for six months from the date it was issued.
The on-cycle skills test will be waived for those who successfully complete the Motorcycle Ohio Basic Rider Course or Basic Rider Course-2, offered by the Ohio Department of Public Safety. However, the completion card is only valid for 60 days. After this time, all applicants for a motorcycle license or endorsement must complete the on-cycle skills test. Information on the course can be found on the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s website or by calling 1-800-83-RIDER.
According to Ohio law, motorcyclists must maintain proof of financial responsibility and carry proof of insurance with them while driving. The minimum insurance requirements are: $12,500 for bodily injury or death to one person in an accident; $25,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more individuals in an accident; and $7,500 for property damage in an accident. Ohio drivers should consult the Department of Public Safety’s website for alternative ways to procure insurance.
If you are buying motorcycle insurance, check with multiple insurance providers before you make a final decision. Motorcycle insurance rates are based on each individual’s unique circumstances. They depend largely on factors such as the motorcycle’s make, model, and age; how often you ride the motorcycle; your personal driving record and the driving records of all other riders; and the year the motorcycle was registered.
Most insurance carriers offer a discount to motorcyclists who complete a certified motorcycle training course. Ask your insurance agent if your provider offers discounts to rider education course graduates.
Motorcycle drivers must follow traffic laws that apply to four-wheeled vehicles, as well as laws that specifically pertain to motorcycles. Failure to follow these laws may result in speeding tickets, higher insurance premiums, and suspension or loss of your motorcycle permit or license. In accordance with Ohio law:
- Drivers must carry proof of insurance.
- Motorcyclists under the age of 18 must wear a safety helmet that meets U.S. Department of Transportation standards. If the operator is required to wear a safety helmet, any passenger, regardless of age, must also wear a safety helmet.
- All novice operators, regardless of age, and their passengers must wear a helmet. A novice is defined as anyone with less than one year of experience as a licensed motorcycle operator.
- Eye protection is required unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen.
- A passenger’s seat and footrest are required if the motorcycle is carrying passengers.
- Handle bars can be a maximum of 15 inches above seat level.
- Motorcycles may ride abreast in the same lane, but a staggered formation is preferred.