Motorcycling in Virginia – What Every Rider Should Know

Parked motorcycle near sidewalk on evening time in Virginia

Are you looking to take up the hobby of motorcycling in Virginia? If so, you should understand Virginia’s motorcycle licensing process and unique laws to keep you safe on the road. Read on to learn what every rider should know about motorcycling in Virginia. 

Getting Your Virginia Motorcycle License

Before you can begin operating a motorcycle in Virginia, you’ll need a motorcycle license. If you’re just passing through the state, your motorcycle license from another state should suffice. However, as long as you’re a Virginia resident, you’ll need a Virginia motorcycle license. 

Virginia offers Class M designations for existing driver’s licenses that allow license holders to operate motorcycles on the road. These designations are as follows:

  • M: Two- and three-wheeled motorcycles
  • M2: Two-wheeled motorcycles only
  • M3: Three-wheeled motorcycles only 

If you are 18 or older, you can add one of these designations to your license by:

  • Passing a vision screening
  • Passing a written motorcycle knowledge exam
  • Holding a learner’s permit for at least 30 days
  • Passing a motorcycle road skills test 

Alternatively, you can complete the Virginia Rider Training program to receive an exemption from the knowledge and road skills exams. 

If you are under 18, you must meet the above requirements and hold a motorcycle learner’s permit for at least nine months. 

Once you obtain your Virginia motorcycle endorsement, you will need to pay an annual fee at the same time as your driver’s license renewal. 

Virginia Lane Laws 

Motorcyclists often have access to advantages on the road that larger vehicles do not. Being aware of these advantages can help you navigate more safely and strategically on your motorcycle.

In Virginia, two motorcyclists can ride side-by-side in the same lane. However, lane filtering, or the practice of riding a motorcycle between two lanes of stopped traffic, is prohibited. As of February 2022, lawmakers are considering creating a bill to permit lane filtering, but until then, this practice is illegal. 

Notably, motorcyclists can ride in the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane. 

Virginia Helmet Laws 

Virginia law requires all motorcyclists to wear protective helmets while operating their bikes. This law applies to motorcyclists and their passengers. Along with a helmet, motorcyclists must also have one of the following:

  • Safety goggles
  • A face shield
  • A safety shield on the bike.

This law is stricter than the helmet laws in many other states. However, it is in place for a good reason. Helmets can significantly reduce your chances of experiencing a traumatic brain injury in a crash. Additionally, eye protection can enhance your visibility during precipitation. 

Virginia Motorcycle Equipment Requirements

Along with wearing the proper safety gear, you must also ensure that your bike has the appropriate safety equipment. Your bike must be equipped with the following:

  • At least one working brake light
  • At least one tail light visible from 500+ feet away
  • At least one headlight visible from 200+ feet away
  • A license plate light visible from 50+ feet away. 
  • A muffler
  • Front and rear brakes

Your bike must also pass an annual safety inspection to remain street legal. 

Virginia Motorcycle Accident Protocol

Responsibly motorcycling in Virginia also involves understanding what to do after a motorcycle accident. Here are the steps we recommend taking following a crash:

  1. Call the police: The police can create a police report and keep the accident scene safe from oncoming traffic
  2. Take photos and talk to witnesses: If you can, take photos of the accident scene and record the contact information of any witnesses.
  3. Seek medical treatment: You should receive a medical evaluation after your accident to treat any injuries and obtain written documentation for your insurance claim.
  4. Hire an attorney: An attorney can help you navigate the claims and compensation process and provide essential legal advice. 

And if you ever find yourself in need of a motorcycle accident injury attorney, be sure to contact the Law Tigers team at 1-888-863-7216 to schedule a free case evaluation.