Bikers take to the highway to enjoy the many benefits of motorcycling; however, while cruising, you should also be aware of the rules of the road. Florida motorcycle laws define terms and lay out how bikes should be operated within the state. With some basic information, you can remain safe while on the road.
If you or a loved one were harmed in a motorcycle accident in the state of Florida, contact our personal injury attorneys at Rubenstein Law. We are highly knowledgeable regarding Florida motorcycle laws and how various violations can impact insurance claims and lawsuits. You can reach us by calling 800-FL-LEGAL.
Although motorcyclists must follow general rules of the road, there are specific laws that address motorcycle riding. When you have an accident, insurance companies will try to use those laws against you. They will attempt to blame the biker for the accident and relieve themselves and their insured driver of any liability. An attorney can protect your rights and make sure the insurance company doesn’t use laws against you.
To make sure you adhere to the correct motorcycle riding rules or other Florida laws, you need to determine the type of vehicle you have. Is it a motorcycle or something else?
Any motor vehicle with a seat or saddle for the use of a rider and designed to travel on two or three wheels. Motor scooters, like Vespas, fall under the definition of a motorcycle, even though they may not have the level of power and speed motorcycles have.
A three-wheeled motorcycle that has two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back, and is equipped with a roll cage, seatbelts, antilock brakes, a steering wheel, and seating that does not require the operator to side astride or straddle the vehicle.
Any vehicle or micro-mobility device that is powered by a motor with or without a seat or saddle, is designed to travel on no more than three wheels, and is not capable of speeds greater than 20 mph on level ground.
Any vehicle with pedals to permit propulsion by human power, with a seat or saddle for a rider, designed to travel on no more than three wheels, and has a motor rated at no more than 2 brake horsepower. A moped is not capable of speeds greater than 30 mph on level ground, and the engine displacement cannot be more than 50 cc. Both mopeds and motorized scooters are considered motor-driven cycles in Florida.
If the vehicle you use has an engine size of 50cc or more, then you must follow Florida motorcycle laws.
Florida law dictates who can and cannot ride motorcycles. First, there is an age requirement. No one under the age of 16 years can lawfully operate or be licensed to operate a motorcycle, moped, motorized scooter, or other motor-driven cycles in Florida.
Second, there is a licensing requirement. If you want to operate a two- or three-wheel motorcycle with an engine size of more than 50cc, you must have a Motorcycles Only License or a motorcycle endorsement on your regular driver’s license.
Third, there is an educational component. New motorcycle operators must pass the Basic Rider Course (BRC) or the Basic Rider Course updated (BRCu) through the Florida Rider Training Program authorized sponsor before they can obtain a license or endorsement.
You can skip the training course if you have a motorcycle license from another state other than Alabama. If you are coming from Alabama, you must show proof of completing a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course.
After successfully completing the BRC or BRCu, you submit your results to the Department with an endorsement fee. You can then be issued a new driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement.
If you wish to obtain a Motorcycles Only License, you must be at least 16 years old. If you are under 18 years of age, you need to hold a Learner’s License for at least one year and have no traffic convictions. You must pass the driver’s license knowledge test and complete the BRC or BRCu. After you can show proof of passing the test and training course, and you pay a fee, you can be issued a Motorcycle Only License.
Motorcycles and their operators and passengers must have certain equipment under Florida motorcycle laws.
Florida’s partial helmet law is one of these requirements. All riders or passengers must have headgear that meets the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. However, a rider who is over 21 years old and carries insurance that covers at least $10,000 for medical expenses can go without a helmet.
Anyone who operates a motorcycle must wear eye protection. Passengers should also wear eye protection for safety reasons, but are not required by law to do so.
An operator and passenger may only ride on permanent and regularly attached seats. The operator cannot carry a passenger if the motorcycle does not have an established seat for a second person or a sidecar. Each person must ride sitting astride the seat, facing forward.
Motorcycle sidecars are legal in Florida as long as they adhere to Florida’s regulations and rules of the road.
A person must ride a motorcycle with both wheels on the ground at all times. It is a traffic violation to pop a wheelie. Although, you will not be ticketed if a wheel briefly loses contact with the ground because of circumstances beyond your control.
The license tag for a motorcycle must be permanently attached to the bike and visible from the rear at all times. It must be attached horizontally and allow the numbers and letters to be read from left to right, or perpendicularly if the numbers and letters can be read from top to bottom.
If the motorcycle rider is under 21 years old, they also must have an identifying license plate, which is a unique design and color.
Any motorcycle carrying a passenger, other than in a sidecar, must have footrests for the passenger.
Many states have laws regarding how high a motorcycle’s handlebars can be. In Florida, handlebars or handgrips cannot be higher than the top of the rider’s shoulders when the rider is properly seated on the bike.
All motorcycles must have a headlight or headlights, and riders must have these lights on while they operate the bike on public streets and highways. However, the law specifically states that failure to use lights between sunrise and sunset is not evidence of negligence or negligence per se.
Motorcycles must have multi-beam road lighting, which can illuminate people or vehicles at least 300 ft away on the uppermost distribution of light and illuminate people or vehicles at least 150 ft away on the lowermost distribution.
Every motorcycle must have at least one taillamp between 20 and 72 inches from the ground. A white light must illuminate the rear license plate and ensure it is visible from 50ft away.
Every motorcycle must have at least one red reflector on the rear.
Every motorcycle must have at least one stop lamp.
Every motorcycle must be equipped with parking lights.
Every vehicle is required to signal their turn either through the use of a signal lamp or hand and arm signals. Vehicles are required to have and use turn signals if the distance from the center of the top of the steering post to the left outside limit of the body of the vehicle is more than 24 inches, or when the distance from the center of the top of the steering post to the rear limit of the body is more than 14 ft.
Motorcycles must have functional brakes, but they do not have to have parking brakes. The bike’s brakes must be able to develop a braking force of at least 43.5% of the bikes gross weight, decelerate to a stop from no more than 20 mph at not less than 14ft per second, and stop from a speed of 20mph in no more than 30 ft. Also, the wheel of a sidecar does not need to have a separate brake.
All motor vehicles must have an exhaust system, including a muffler, that prevents excessive noise.
All motor vehicles must have a mirror to provide a view of the highway behind the operator of at least 200 ft.
Motorcycles also have to comply with Florida’s regulations regarding horns, warning devices, sirens, whistles, bells, theft alarms, and more.
Other laws and regulations apply to motorcycle operators and riders in Florida, as well. For example, wearing headphones while riding a motorcycle is unlawful. No one can operate a vehicle while wearing a headset, headphones, or other listening device other than a hearing aid. However, there is an exception for motorcycle operators who wear a headset installed in their helmet, which is meant to ensure the operator can hear through the speakers while also hearing surrounding sounds.
Motorcycles have to adhere to operating noise limits that depend on when the motorcycle was manufactured, its weight, and speed. For example, a motorcycle manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 1979 that has a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more must have a sound level under 86 dB A when moving at 35 mph or less. Motorcycles of a lesser weight must have a sound level under 78 dB A at a speed of 35 mph or less.
Like other motorists, you have to follow laws like the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Laws. You cannot operate a vehicle while manually using a cellphone or another form of wireless communication.
If there is a law that applies to motorists’ behavior while on the road, it likely applies to your behavior on a motorcycle too.
When it comes to the rules for motorcycles on the road, Florida Statute Section 316.208 specifically states motorcycle and moped operators have the same rights and responsibilities of other motorists except for any special regulations that apply to them. This includes following the speed limit, obeying traffic control signals and signs, yielding to the right of way, and all of the other traditional rules of the road.
Motorcycles are entitled to use their full lane. No other car can deprive a rider of a portion of their lane or try to overtake a motorcycle in the same lane. Although two motorcycle riders can agree to ride abreast in one lane.
Lane splitting in Florida is unlawful. Under Section 316.209(3), no one shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
Another Florida motorcycle riding rule is that you must keep both hands on the handlebars or grips. You cannot carry a package or a passenger in such a way as to impede your ability to use both hands to operate the motorcycle.
Florida’s insurance laws become confusing when it comes to motorcycle riders. Florida does not require motorcycle owners to purchase motorcycle insurance policies. You do not need to show proof of insurance to obtain a motorcycle license or endorsement or to register a motorcycle in the state. However, you may face penalties and financial liability if you cause an accident and do not have coverage.
If you also own a car or truck, then you need the minimum $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL), which regardless of fault will help pay for your own injuries and property damage in the event of a crash in your car/truck. This does not cover you while you are on your motorcycle, so you should purchase a separate motorcycle insurance policy. At minimum Florida requires you are covered by an insurance policy providing at least $10,000 in medical benefits. This can come via:
You can be asked to show proof of medical benefit coverage during routine traffic stops if asked for it by law enforcement.
To be eligible for the motorcycle helmet exemption you must:
If you have questions about one or more motorcycle laws in Florida and how the laws may impact a claim for compensation, contact Rubenstein Law at 800-FL-LEGAL/800-355-3425. We offer a free consultation and can help guide you through a claim.