Texas Motorcycle Laws 2023: Everything Texan Should Know

Guy Riding A Motorcycle On An Open Road

With its sweeping vistas and vast network of open roads, Texas beckons motorcyclists from far and wide. Yet, with this liberating sense of freedom comes a corresponding responsibility to be well-informed and obey traffic laws, including parking regulations. While riding a motorcycle in Texas can be a thrilling adventure, it is crucial to stay knowledgeable about the Texas motorcycle laws, as well as to wear appropriate safety gear, and practice safe riding techniques. By adhering to these standards, motorcyclists can embark on a safe, secure, and enjoyable ride.

This blog provides a detailed overview of important factors and things to consider for motorcyclists when riding in Texas. It covers a range of topics, including the state’s motorcycle laws and parking regulations. Understanding these laws and regulations is crucial for rider safety and avoiding legal penalties or other issues related to parking violations or other technical matters. By being aware of these factors, motorcyclists can better protect themselves and confidently navigate the roads.

CAUSES OF MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS IN TEXAS

Motorcycle law Texas

Despite the exhilaration and thrill of riding a motorcycle and with the limitations posed by the motorcycle laws in Texas, it is unfortunate that the risk of accidents still looms large on the horizon. Indeed, there are several potential causes of motorcycle accidents in Texas, each carrying a range of associated risks and dangers. As passionate advocates for motorcyclists, we understand the unique challenges that riders face on the road. However, many of the common causes of motorcycle accidents can be avoided with proper awareness and caution from all road users.

Distracted Driving and Overspeeding
Distracted driving is a significant threat to motorcyclists in Texas. We urge all drivers to stay focused on the road and avoid distractions like cell phones, passengers, and other activities while driving. Speeding is another major contributor to motorcycle accidents, and we encourage all drivers to obey posted speed limits and drive at a safe speed.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol (DUI)
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is never acceptable and poses a serious danger to all road users, including motorcyclists. We support efforts to combat drunk and drugged driving and seek to hold accountable those who cause accidents due to their impaired state.

Lack of Experience and Lane Splitting
While inexperienced riders may lack the necessary skills and knowledge to operate a motorcycle safely, we believe that with proper training and education, riders of all experience levels can safely enjoy the open road. Lane splitting can be a controversial issue, but when done safely and responsibly, it can provide a way for motorcyclists to navigate traffic more efficiently.

Road Conditions
Finally, we recognize that poor road conditions and lack of visibility can also pose risks to motorcyclists. We encourage all riders to remain vigilant and cautious on the road and to take appropriate safety measures to minimize the risks of accidents.

Texas Motorcycle Licenses

If you are a motorcyclist, you should know that motorcycle drivers have their M license class. In Texas, all motorcycle riders must possess a valid Class M license before operating a vehicle. This category contains mopeds as well.

A Texas motorcycle license is required for anyone who wishes to operate a motorbike lawfully and safely on the state’s roads. The process of obtaining a motorcycle license in Texas is identical to getting a car or truck driver’s license, with a few notable exceptions. The following are the steps in getting a motorcycle driving license in Texas:

Step 1: Complete a Motorcycle Safety Course
The first step is taking a motorcycle safety course before the skills exam. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Basic RiderCourse is offered in Texas and is recognized by the Department of Public Safety. The MSF Basic RiderCourse is an excellent method to develop the skills necessary to pass the DPS skills test and learn the fundamentals of motorcycle operation.

Step 2: Pass the Motorcycle Tests
The next step is to pass the written and skills tests administered by the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The written test covers fundamental motorcycle operating and motorcycle-specific traffic legislation. The skills test is a practical evaluation of your ability to operate a motorcycle safely.

Step 3: Obtain a Permit
After passing the written and skills examinations, you will be granted a motorcycle learner’s permit, allowing you to operate a motorcycle legally under the supervision of a licensed rider. Before being given a complete motorcycle license, you must hold the permit for at least six months and pass a road test.

Please note that if you hold a valid driver’s license in Texas, you are exempt from taking the written and skills tests when obtaining a motorcycle license. However, you must pass the motorbike road test.

Getting a Motorcycle Registered in Texas

In Texas, registering a motorcycle is a procedure all motorcycle owners must complete to ride their vehicle legally. All motorcycles are required to be registered with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV). This can be accomplished in person at the TxDMV office or online through the TxDMV website. Upon motorcycle registration, you must present evidence of ownership, such as the motorcycle’s title and insurance. 

When registering a motorcycle, you must also pay an additional registration cost. The charge varies according to the type of motorcycle, its age, its weight, and your county of residence. You may also be asked to pay a sales tax based on the purchase price of the motorcycle in addition to the registration charge.

Motorbike registrations are valid for a single year and must be renewed annually. Before your registration expires, you will receive a renewal notification in the mail containing instructions on renewing your registration.

Annual Motorcycle Inspection

Motorcycle owners in Texas must inspect their vehicles annually to guarantee safety and compliance with state rules. The inspection must be conducted by a state-approved inspection station, mainly automotive repair shops or TxDOT Vehicle Inspection sites. This annual safety assessment involves a visual examination of the following:

  • brakes
  • lights
  • horn
  • tires
  • additional safety equipment

Motorcycle law Texas vehicle inspection

When submitting your proof of registration, insurance, and a valid motorcycle license. When offering your motorcycle for inspection, the inspector will check its safety equipment to ensure it complies with the state’s minimum criteria. A sticker will be placed on the motorcycle if it passes inspection, signifying it has passed.

Notably, if your motorbike fails inspection, the inspector will provide you with a list of modifications that must be completed before the motorcycle may pass inspection. You will be required appropriate repairs and re-inspection of the motorcycle before it can be driven lawfully on the road.

Texas Emission Law

Texas has specific laws and regulations governing emissions from motor vehicles. These laws aim to reduce air pollution and improve air quality in the state. The Texas emission law central agency responsible for enforcing these laws is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

In Texas, emissions testing is required for certain types of vehicles in certain areas. Specifically, vehicles registered in certain counties in the state, including the Houston-Galveston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas, must undergo an annual emissions inspection. The testing checks for pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons. Vehicles that do not pass the emissions test must be repaired to meet the standards set by the TCEQ before they can be registered or re-registered.

In addition to emissions testing, Texas has adopted specific emissions standards for new motor vehicles. These standards align with the federal standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and aim to reduce the amount of harmful pollutants released into the air by motor vehicles.

Texas also has programs in place to incentivize the use of low-emission and zero-emission vehicles. For example, the state offers rebates to purchase eligible electric and hybrid vehicles. Additionally, alternative fuel vehicles, such as those by compressed natural gas or propane, may be eligible for exemptions from emissions testing requirements. 

The Texas Helmet Regulation

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Helmets are proven to save lives. The Texas Motorcycle Helmet Law mandates all Texas motorcycle riders to wear a helmet at all times, which is one of the most critical rules to remember. This applies to drivers as well as passengers.

This law is intended to protect riders from severe head injuries in the case of a collision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that helmets are approximately 37% efficient in preventing motorcycle fatalities and about 67% effective in preventing brain injuries. This means wearing a helmet can significantly improve your chances of surviving a collision.

In addition to the helmet regulation, Texas mandates that all riders not wearing a full-face helmet wear eye protection. This is because the wind from a motorcycle can cause eye irritation, dryness, and even injury. Protective eyewear can aid in preventing these issues and increase rider visibility. This eyewear should be:

  • shatterproof
  • securely constructed
  • optically clear
  • resistant to impact and penetration
  • do not obstruct peripheral vision

The Texas Department of Public Safety enforces helmet legislation. It can issue citations and fines to riders found to violate the law. Depending on the nature of the infringement, the fines might range between $25 and $250. Additional penalties, such as suspension or revocation of their motorcycle license, may be imposed on repeat offenders.

It is important to note that there are exceptions to the Texas helmet regulation. Riders who have completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course or have medical insurance coverage of at least $10,000 for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident and are at least 21 years old are not required to wear a helmet. Regardless of the exemptions mentioned above, riders under 21 must wear helmets.

Other Protective Gear

Protection while riding a motorcycle is not limited to a helmet alone. Fully protective clothing can make all the difference in a motorcycle accident and safeguard the rider from the everyday dangers of motorcycling. In addition, protective gear can prevent sunburn, windburn, rain, dehydration, and cold and provide comfort and visibility.

  • Low-heeled footwear with no dangling laces or rings must cover the ankle. Footwear can offer excellent traction on the road and foot pegs.
  • Gloves should shield the hands from cuts, abrasions, blisters, cold, and wind and improve control by enhancing grip.
  • For rainy conditions, it is advisable to wear a rain suit.
  • Brightly colored clothing should fit well, withstand abrasions, and boost your visibility to other drivers.

Headwear
Headwear is essential to protect against head injuries and shield the eyes from the wind and debris. A full-face helmet is the most effective type of headwear, as it covers the entire face and head, but other options include three-quarter helmets and half helmets. Ensuring the helmet meets the safety standards set by the Department of Transportation (DOT) is important.

Eyewear
Eyewear is also crucial for motorcyclists in Texas, as it helps protect the eyes from wind, debris, and insects. Sunglasses can be helpful, but goggles or other types of protective eyewear are recommended for more excellent protection.

Parking Regulations for Motorcycles in Texas

Knowing the parking regulations for motorcycles in Texas is essential, and Section 545 of the Texas Transportation Code outlines these regulations. The code specifies where and how motorbikes may be parked, emphasizing that they must be parked in designated parking spots marked with a “Motorcycle Parking Only” sign. Parking in automobile or truck spaces is not permitted and can result in a penalty.

The code also requires that motorcycles be parked upright, meaning they cannot be parked on their kickstands or against buildings or other structures. This regulation ensures that motorcycles are parked safely and stably.

Furthermore, the code prohibits parking motorcycles on sidewalks unless the property owner has permission, ensuring that pedestrians and individuals with disabilities can access clear sidewalks. It also forbids parking on the median of a street or highway and the lane or shoulder of a highway unless there is a sign permitting parking.

Finally, Section 545 mandates that all motorcycles be registered and have a license plate. Parking your motorcycle in a designated place without a proper license plate may be considered illegally parked.

In a nutshell, Section 545 of the Texas Transportation Code specifies that Motorcycles are:

  • required to be parked in authorized spots
  • required to be parked upright
  • prohibited from parking on a sidewalk, street median, or roadway unless otherwise indicated by a sign
  • required to be registered and have a valid license plate

Motor Vehicle Pursuit Policy in Texas

There is no “no chase law for motorcycles” in Texas. However, motorcycle pursuits are allowed and subject to the same laws and regulations as those involving other motor vehicles. Therefore, law enforcement officers must adhere to strict guidelines when pursuing a motorcyclist to ensure the safety of all parties involved.

Under Texas law, officers may only initiate a pursuit if they reasonably suspect that a motorcyclist has committed a serious offense, such as a violent crime or a felony. Additionally, officers must weigh the potential risks of the pursuit against the need to apprehend the suspect.

During a pursuit, officers must follow strict rules and regulations to ensure the safety of everyone involved. For example, officers must maintain a safe distance from the pursued motorcyclist, be extra careful when driving or maneuvering, and minimize the risk of collateral damage or injuries to bystanders.

Suppose the pursued motorcyclist is observed driving in a manner that poses an imminent threat to the safety of others, such as driving against the flow of traffic on a one-way street or highway. In that case, officers may be authorized to use force to stop the motorcyclist, including deadly force if necessary. 

Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident in Texas

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident in Texas, taking certain steps to protect yourself and your legal rights is important. Here are the steps to take after a motorcycle accident in Texas:

Stay at the scene: If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, staying there until law enforcement arrives is important. Leaving the scene of an accident can lead to serious legal consequences.

Seek medical attention: Even if you feel fine, seeking medical attention after a motorcycle accident is important. There are injuries that may not be seen at the moment of the accident, therefore, seeking early treatment can help prevent more severe complications later.

Contact law enforcement: Call 911 to report the accident and wait for law enforcement to arrive. Then, cooperate with them and provide accurate information about what happened.

Document the accident: Take pictures of the accident scene, including any damage to your motorcycle, the other vehicle(s) involved, and any injuries you sustained. In addition, write down the names and contact information of any witnesses and the other driver(s) involved.

Contact your insurance company: Notify your insurance company of the accident immediately. Provide them with accurate information about what happened and any injuries sustained.

Consult with a motorcycle accident attorney: If you were injured in the accident, it is advisable to consult with a motorcycle accident attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options. An attorney can also help you negotiate with insurance companies and pursue compensation for your injuries and damages.

Final Words

Ride safe and ride smart. Familiarize yourself with the updated Texas motorcycle laws 2023 to ensure compliance and protect yourself and others on the road. Remember always to wear a helmet, follow speed limits, and obey traffic laws. Stay aware of your surroundings, use proper signals, and maintain a valid license and insurance. Enjoy the freedom of riding, but always remember the responsibility that comes with it. Safe travels on your two-wheeled adventures!

FAQ

Yes, Texas does have a motorcycle helmet law. According to Texas law, all riders under the age of 21 must wear a helmet while operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle. However, riders who are over 21 and have completed a motorcycle safety course or have sufficient medical insurance coverage may ride without a helmet. However, it is important to note that wearing a helmet is always recommended for safety. 

Whether or not to sue after a motorcycle accident depends on the circumstances of the accident and the damages incurred. If you have sustained significant injuries, lost wages, or other damages due to the accident, you may want to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. First, however, consulting with a qualified personal injury attorney is essential to discuss your legal options and determine if a case is the best course of action.

After a motorcycle accident, it is important to take the following steps:

  1. Seek medical attention for any injuries sustained
  2. Contact law enforcement to report the accident
  3. Exchange information with the other parties involved, including insurance information
  4. Gather evidence, such as photos of the accident scene and witness statements
  5. Contact your insurance company to report the accident
  6. Consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options and protect your rights

The amount of a motorcycle accident claims depends on various factors, such as the severity of the injuries sustained, the level of negligence on the part of the at-fault party, and the total damages incurred. Settlement amounts vary widely, ranging from a few thousand dollars to millions. Therefore, consulting with a personal injury attorney is important to determine a fair and reasonable settlement amount.

In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases, including motorcycle accidents, is two years from the accident date. Therefore, you have two years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. It is important to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident to ensure that your legal rights are protected and to take necessary legal action within the allotted time frame. 

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