According to Virginia state law, a motorcycle is defined as “every motor vehicle designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and is capable of traveling at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. The term ‘motorcycle’ does not include any ‘electric personal assistive mobility device,’ ‘electric power-assisted bicycle,’ ‘farm tractor,’ ‘golf cart,’ ‘moped,’ ‘motorized skateboard or scooter,’ ‘utility vehicle’ or ‘wheelchair or wheelchair conveyance.'” Motorcyclists in Virginia are required to obtain a class M designation on their driver’s license or a motorcycle-only license. Applicants must be at least 16 years and 3 months of age, have had their motorcycle learner’s permit for at least nine months, complete a vision screening, and pass a motorcycle knowledge exam and skills test. Those under the age of 18 will need parental consent. Even after receiving the proper license, riders must carry proof of state required motorcycle insurance coverage at all times while operating the vehicle.
Motorcycle License Requirements
- At least 16 years and 3 months of age
- If under 18, parental consent is required
- Must have held a motorcycle learner’s permit for at least nine months
- If under 19, the completion of an approved driver education program is required for those who do not have an existing Virginia license
- Fee of $2.00 per year to add the class M designation to an existing license or $30.00 for a five-year motorcycle-only license
- Vision test
- Written exam
- Motorcycle skills test
Those who complete a Virginia Rider Training Program are exempt from the motorcycle skills test for two years after completing the course.
Virginia requires riders to maintain a valid motorcycle insurance policy to ensure financial responsibility for the future. Virginia’s minimum motorcycle insurance requirements are 25/50/20: $25,000 of bodily injury coverage for injuries or death for a single individual in an accident, $50,000 of bodily injury coverage for injuries or death for multiple individuals in an accident, and $20,000 of coverage for property damage. Virginia offers motorcyclists the following options for securing coverage:
- Buy insurance – Many car insurance companies also offer motorcycle insurance coverage. This is the most common method of ensuring coverage and involves making monthly payments towards a motorcycle insurance premium.
- Bond – Motorcyclists in Virginia can leverage cash or real estate with a surety company to secure a bond as proof of financial responsibility.
- Deposit – Motorcyclists can deposit cash or securities with the state commissioner equal to the sum of the required liability coverage.
- Certificate of self-insurance – Individuals who the state commissioner deems financially stable enough to respond to any judgment brought against them may be eligible to receive a certificate of self-insurance.
For those researching motorcycle insurance cost, keep in mind there is no set average price. Rather, motorcycle insurance companies consider a number of factors when calculating your premium. Your age, gender, marital status, location, driving history, annual mileage, and the type of vehicle you own are all important in determining how much you will pay for coverage. Young unmarried men typically have the highest rates, since they fall into a high-risk demographic. In addition, motorcyclists with a history of accidents or traffic violations, those who travel a high number of miles, own an expensive motorcycle, or live in high-crime areas will typically pay higher rates. Riders should also be aware that, typically, motorcycle insurance prices average more than car insurance coverage.
Responsible motorcyclists will understand and adhere to all state traffic rules and regulations. This insures a lower risk of accidents and injuries both for themselves and others on the road. Failure to follow these laws can result in traffic tickets, fines, increased insurance premiums, and loss of license. Some important Virginia laws pertaining to motorcyclists are listed below:
- Helmets are required for all riders.
- Footrests are required for all passengers.
- Passengers cannot be carried unless the motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person.
- Eye protection is required unless the vehicle is equipped with a windscreen.
- Lane splitting is prohibited.
- Operating motorcycles two abreast in one lane is prohibited.