Operating a motorcycle in Missouri requires knowledge of the laws, rules and regulations that apply to these motorists. Every road user has a responsibility to obey Missouri’s applicable laws and prevent traffic accidents. Knowing which rules apply to you can help you stay out of legal trouble and stay safe on your motorcycle.
Motorcycle Licensing Requirements
A standard driver’s license in Missouri (Class F) is not adequate to operate a motorcycle under state law. A motorcycle is defined in Revisor of Missouri Section 407.1025 as a motor vehicle that is operated on two wheels and has a motor with a cylinder capacity of more than 50cc and/or can travel faster than 30 miles per hour.
If an individual wishes to operate a motorcycle in Missouri, he or she must first obtain a Class M motorcycle license or permit. Earning a Class M license – or obtaining an M endorsement on a Class F license – requires passing a skills test on a motorcycle. The operator must also pass a written, vision and road sign test.
Motorcycle Road Rules and Regulations
Motorcycles are treated the same way as standard passenger vehicles in the eyes of the law. They must ride on the correct side of the road based on the flow of traffic, for example, and respect others’ rights to the road. Like a typical motor vehicle driver, a motorcyclist has a responsibility to obey all of Missouri’s traffic laws and roadway rules, including:
- Speed limits
- Traffic signs
- Red lights
- Right-of-way laws
- Passing and merging rules
- Drunk driving laws
- Texting and driving laws
- Reckless driving laws
In addition, motorcycles have certain state laws that apply only to them. For instance, motorcyclists have the right to ride two abreast of one another, meaning two motorcyclists can ride side-by-side in a single lane, as long as this action does not impede other vehicles.
Lane-Splitting Law in Missouri
Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides on the line between two lanes of same-direction traffic rather than staying entirely in one lane. Lane splitting is not illegal in Missouri; however, it is also not expressly allowed. Missouri’s state laws are neutral on this topic. However, it is generally viewed as an unsafe practice that could lead to the blame being placed on a motorcyclist for an accident.
Missouri Motorcycle Helmet Law
In Missouri, motorcyclists who are under the age of 25 are required to wear helmets. In 2020, state law was changed to remove the universal helmet rule, which previously required all motorcyclists – regardless of age – to wear helmets. Today, if a motorcyclist is over the age of 25 and possesses health insurance, he or she is not legally required to wear a helmet. However, helmets are strongly recommended, as they can protect a motorcyclist from serious head and brain injuries in an accident.
Motorcycle Equipment Requirements
Before a rider can take his or her motorcycle out on a public road in Missouri, the vehicle must contain all of the equipment required to make it roadworthy. This includes:
- Front headlamp
- Rear taillight
- Red brake light
All motorcycle equipment must be fully functioning. To ride on a public road, the motorcycle must pass a safety inspection and be lawfully registered with the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles.
Insurance Requirements for Motorcyclists
Missouri motorcyclists are required to carry all of the same types and amounts of motor vehicle insurance as other motorists. Missouri is a fault-based car insurance state, meaning all drivers must purchase the following minimum amounts of liability insurance:
- $25,000 in bodily injury insurance per person
- $50,000 in bodily injury insurance per accident
- $10,000 in property damage liability coverage
After an accident, this insurance will cover the costs and losses of the other drivers. The at-fault motorist will be held responsible for the losses of all injured victims. It is up to the injured victim to prove that the other driver is at fault. If you get involved in a motorcycle accident in Missouri, consult with an attorney for information about your rights.