If you are planning to ride a motorcycle in North Carolina, or even if you have been riding for a number of years, you should make sure that you are familiar with North Carolina’s motorcycle laws. Here, we present a summary of some of the most important laws that apply to motorcycle riding in our state.

At Strickland Agner Pittman, we know that most motorcycle riders in our state follow the laws and ride safely and responsibly on our roads. However, too often, their counterparts in cars and trucks fail to do the same. Due to their careless and reckless driving, they can cause motorcycle accidents that leave operators and their passengers with serious or fatal injuries.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident that a negligent driver caused in Goldsboro, Kinston, Fayetteville, or surrounding areas, contact us today to discuss your case in a free consultation.

Motorcycle License Laws in North Carolina

To operate a motorcycle on the road in North Carolina, you need to have a full provisional or regular driver’s license and:

  • A motorcycle learner’s permit; or
  • A motorcycle endorsement.

You don’t need either a driver’s license or a motorcycle endorsement to ride a moped in North Carolina.

To be eligible to apply for a motorcycle learner’s permit, you must be:

  • Between ages 16 and 18 and have a full provisional license and signed parental or guardian consent; or
  • At least age 18 and have a regular driver’s license.

To actually get the learner’s permit, you must pay a $20 fee and do the following:

  • Pass a vision test.
  • Pass a road sign test.
  • Pass a knowledge test.

Can I Get My Motorcycle License Permit Before 18?

Additionally, if you are younger than age 18, you must have successfully completed a motorcycle safety course offered by N.C. Motorcycle Safety Education Program (NCMSEP) or Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).

A motorcycle learner’s permit expires after 12 months. However, you can renew it once for an additional six months. If you ride with a permit, you can’t carry passengers.

To obtain a motorcycle endorsement, you must pay a fee ($2.30 for each year the endorsement is valid).

If you are age 18 or older, you must:

  • Pass a vision test.
  • Pass a knowledge test.
  • Pass a road test or show proof that you successfully completed an NCMSEP or MSF course.

If you are younger than age 18, you must meet the vision and knowledge test requirements and provide proof that you successfully passed an NCMSEP or MSF course. If you are younger than age 18, you can’t have any passengers.

What Are The Motorcycle Helmet Laws in North Carolina?

If you operate or ride as a passenger on a motorcycle or moped in North Carolina, you must wear a motorcycle safety helmet that complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. The helmet must have:

  • A roughly one-inch thick foam inner liner
  • Manufacturer-installed “DOT” sticker on the back
  • Manufacturer’s label
  • A label that states the manufacturer’s name or ID and the exact model, size, manufacturing date, shell type, and liner construction materials.
  • The helmet must also have a label with instructions on how to clean and take care of the helmet.

When you ride, you must have the chin strap secured. Check out this MSF guide on how to select the right helmet.

Even though they are not required by law in North Carolina, you should also wear the following when you ride a motorcycle or moped in North Carolina.

  • Goggles or a face shield
  • Sturdy boots
  • Thick gloves
  • Leather jacket or jacket made of comparable synthetic material
  • Thick pants such as jeans (never wear shorts).

What Are The Motorcycle Safety Equipment Laws in North Carolina?

In order for your motorcycle to be “street legal” in North Carolina, it must meet a few basic requirements. The motorcycle must have:

  • A license plate that is visible from roughly 50 feet away at night
  • A horn that can be heard from roughly 200 feet away
  • A rearview mirror
  • An exhaust system
  • A headlight that allows you to see at least 200 feet in front (and which is running at all times when you are on the road, regardless of whether it is day or night)
  • A speedometer
  • A red rear light that can be seen from about 500 feet away (and is lit at all times when riding)
  • A rear brake light that can be seen from at least 100 feet away
  • A foot peg or rest for passengers.

Keep in mind: This equipment helps to prevent accidents. You should have this equipment on your motorcycle not only so you can avoid getting an equipment violation ticket but also so you can stay safe out there.

What Are The Motorcycle Operation Laws in North Carolina?

Motorcycles are just like any other car on the road in North Carolina. So, when you ride a motorcycle, you must follow all of the state’s general traffic laws, including speed limits, right-of-way rules, stop lights and stop signs, and you must signal any lane changes or turns.

Several rules also apply specifically to motorcycles. For instance,

  • Motorcycles are entitled to full use of the lane. They cannot lane-split or lane-share with other motor vehicles. However, two motorcycles can share the same line and ride side-by-side.
  • A motorcycle or moped cannot carry any more passengers than it’s designed to carry. (The law doesn’t set a minimum age for passengers.)
  • A motorcyclist can go through a red light as long as (1) he or she first comes to a complete stop, (2) waits at least three minutes, and (3) does not cut off any other vehicle sitting, going through, or approaching the intersection, and (4) no pedestrian is attempting to cross at or near the intersection.

Get Help from a North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Even if you comply with all of North Carolina’s traffic laws and specific motorcycle laws, you can still become the victim of a negligent motor vehicle driver. If someone else’s negligence hurt you or caused the loss of a loved one in a motorcycle accident, don’t wait to get legal help. Contact Strickland Agner Pittman today and allow us to review your case in a free consultation.