By: KGD Law
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Motorcycles and the Law in Florida
In Florida, we enjoy many freedoms and benefits to riding motorcycles. There are still important laws you need to know and follow, though, and because of the unique nature of a bike, there are more specialized rules to remember. Florida has the second-highest number of registered motorcycles in the country, but it is also near the top of the list for motorcycle fatalities.
The laws are designed with you and everyone else’s best interest in mind, so it is important to be aware of the laws, regardless of if you are a new rider or an experienced veteran. It can be a little confusing to keep track of all the rules, so we have aggregated several of the legalities pertaining to motorcycle riding here in Florida for your ease.
As opposed to driving a car, there are a few more details you need to think about when operating a motorcycle. Since you are exposed to the elements and more vulnerable in case of accident, Florida has laws about protective equipment in order to keep you and others safe and vigilant.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws
For the record, it is always advisable to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. However, Florida is the only state where it is not required for every rider. In Florida, you must wear a helmet under the following conditions:
- Anyone who is under the age of 21 must wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle.
- If you are aged 21 or older and choose not to wear a helmet, you must carry at least a $10,000 medical insurance policy that will cover you for injuries or medical problems resulting from a motorcycle accident.
- If you are aged 16 or older, you are not required to wear a helmet if you are operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle with a displacement of 50 cubic centimeters or less, or is rated at 2-brake horsepower or less, and which is incapable of propelling itself at a speed of greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground.
Motorcycle Equipment Requirements
A helmet is one of the most important pieces of protective equipment you can have for riding, but it is not the only important or necessary item. If you are wondering about what other pieces of equipment you should have to ride and what their specifications should be, here are the requirements:
- Lights and Mirrors: Your bike must have working headlights, tail lights, and turn signals. You must also have reflectors installed and rear-view mirrors on your left and right sides. Motorcyclists in Florida are required to have their headlight on at all times, even in the day, so check your bulb frequently.
- License Plates: Your bike must have a visible license plate in back. If the motorcycle is registered to a rider under the age of 21, the license plate must be a special color and design.
- Handlebars: The handlebars must be no higher than the driver’s shoulder height.
- Passenger Accommodations: If you to ride with a passenger, your bike must be equipped with a separate seat and footrest for the extra rider.
- Eyewear: Motorcyclists in Florida must wear either goggles or other acceptable eye protection that has been approved by the Department of Transportation.
Motorcycle License in Florida
The state of Florida requires riders to carry a “Motorcycle Only” license or have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license to operate a motorcycle legally. To obtain a valid motorcycle endorsement, you must follow these steps:
- Acquire a Class E operator’s driver’s license.
- Pass the Basic RiderCourse (BRC) or the BRC updated through a Florida Rider Training Program authorized sponsor.
- After passing, you have a one-year grace period to obtain your endorsement, after which your course completion will be considered invalid and you will need to take a Rider Skills Test.
- After completing the required testing, present your ID and pay the required fees to your local driver’s license or tax collector office to receive your endorsement.
Florida’s Road Rules for Motorcycle Riders
In Florida, the traffic laws apply to every operating vehicle equally, whether it is a car, motorcycle, cargo truck, or anyone else who might be on the road. As a motorcyclist, this means that you are not allowed to weave in and out of traffic, and you must maintain the appropriate speed with the flow of traffic and obey all traffic signals in the same way.
However, since the same rules of the road apply to you as a rider, you also are entitled to the same rights as any other driver on the road. You have the right to use the full lane of traffic, although two motorcyclists are allowed to share the same lane if they so choose. Cars must allow you your own lane and must maintain the same safe distance as with any other vehicle.
This also means that lane splitting is not permitted. You may not ride alongside another car in traffic, and you cannot pass between lanes, whether or not traffic is moving. As of the time of writing, California is the only state where lane splitting is legal.
Motorcycle Insurance Requirements in Florida
When it comes to vehicle insurance, Florida is a no-fault state. This means that when an accident occurs, it is the responsibility of the driver found to be at fault to pay for any injuries or damages incurred by the other driver. This could be applied to just one driver. If the accident was caused by more than one driver or both parties are found partially at fault, the responsibility could also be split.
For other registered vehicles in Florida, there is a requirement to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which pays for your own medical expenses, regardless of fault, but this rule does not apply to motorcycles.
Florida does have a Financial Responsibility law, which requires motorcyclists to either obtain a self-insurance certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility or to have proper insurance coverage. The minimum requirements for riders are $10,000 (or $20,000 for 2+ people) for bodily injury and $10,000 per crash for property damage.
It is important as a motorcyclist to know the rules of the road and to follow them. Knowing and abiding by these laws, which are designed to keep you and other safe, could be the difference between a close call and a fatal wreck.
You may think you could use the services of a lawyer for your case, but motorcycle accidents can become a lot more complicated than simple car accidents. Unfortunately, there is sometimes a tendency among police, witnesses, and the other involved party to hold bias against motorcycle riders in an accident.
Because motorcycles are viewed as more dangerous, riders can get a bad reputation for being reckless, which is typically just not true. Motorcycle operators are no more likely to be irresponsible than any other driver on the road. If you do your best to follow the rules of the road, you are that much more able to fight against this bias.
If you have been falsely accused of being at fault in a motorcycle accident and think you could be entitled to compensation, an experienced attorney can help you set the record straight. Contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz to be put in touch directly with a lawyer. The first consultation is no obligation to continue with our services.