RIDE TEXAS® Texas Motorcycle Laws

Texas Motorcycle Laws

Texas motorcycle laws, excerpted from the "Texas Department of Safety Motorcycle Operator's Manual," a publication created by the Motorcycle Safety Unit. For your reading pleasure, the full manual is included at the bottom of the page where you can chose to save it, e-mail it, or print it out. These laws were in force at time of publication, but are subject to change and modification. If you have any questions, please contact DPS at (800) 292-5787.

To pass annual vehicle inspections, your bike will need everything on the list below.

To pass annual vehicle inspections, your bike will need everything on the list below.

Equipment

Texas law requires the following equipment on Motorcycles and Motor-Driven Cycles

  •  Wheel Assembly
  •  Exhaust System
  •  Tail Lamp (1)
  •  Stop Lamp (1)
  •  License Plate Lamp
  •  Rear Red Reflector
  •  Head Lamp (1) (modulating permitted)
  •  Vehicle Identification Number
  •  Horn
  •  Mirror
  •  Steering
  •  Brakes
  •  Tires

Texas law requires the following equipment on Mopeds

  •  Brake
  •  Reflector
  •  Head Lamp
  •  Rear Lamp

Mufflers | Decibel Limitations

Texas currently has no statutes regarding mufflers/exhaust decibels.


Texas currently has no statutes regarding motorcycle exhaust decibel levels.Parking

Disabled Parking

State law provides that it is a violation (Class C misdemeanor – up to $500 fine) for a person to park, stand, or stop a vehicle (motorcycle)in a disabled person parking
space.

The law specifically states:

  • You may not park in a disabled parking space unless the vehicle (motorcycle) has a disabled license plate or a state issued removable windshield identification card;
  • You may not use a disabled parking windshield identification card unless transporting the disabled person to whom it was issued;
  • You may not lend your windshield identification card to someone else;
  • You may not block an access or curb ramp;
  • Additionally, certain municipalities also prohibit stopping or standing a vehicle (motorcycle) in a disabled parking space unless bearing a disabled parking windshield identification card or disabled license plate.

Other parking stipulations

  • Do NOT park in striped areas Do not park a vehicle (motorcycle) in striped areas adjacent to handicap parking spaces or in striped area in front of entrance to a business adjacent to a parking space. The striped area is for wheelchair lifts.
  • In addition, motorcycles should not be parked on sidewalks.
    Parking on sidewalks can prevent a person who is handicapped from gaining access to a business or their residence

Helmets

DOT-approved helmets are marked with the DOT sticker.

DOT-approved helmets are marked with the DOT sticker.

Helmets meeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218 (FMVSS-218) are required for motorcycle operators and passengers. Adherence to this standard is indicated by the “DOT” sticker. This requirement applies to all motorcycles, motor scooters, and mopeds regardless of size or number of wheels.

Persons at least 21 years old are exempt from wearing a helmet if they have completed a Department-approved Motorcycle Operator Training Course or they are covered with at least $10,000 in medical insurance. (Proof of medical insurance must be a card or certificate that contains the name of the insurer, the insurance policy number, and the policy period).

The law prohibits a peace officer from stopping or detaining a person who is the operator of or a passenger on a motorcycle for the sole purpose of determining whether the person has successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course or is covered by a motorcycle health insurance plan and repeals provisions relating to a DPS-issued sticker required to be displayed on a motorcycle by a motorcycle owner.

The Basic and Advanced Motorcycle Operator Training Courses meet the helmet exemption requirement. The Advanced Motorcycle Operator Training Course is recommended for experienced licensed motorcyclists.


Passengers

A passenger must be at least five years old. If under 21 years old a passenger must wear a helmet, if over 21 years old a passenger can ride without a helmet if the driver meets the helmet exemption requirements.

A motorcycle operator cannot carry a passenger unless the motorcycle is equipped with a permanent passenger seat.


Licensing

The operator of a motorcycle on a public highway must hold a valid motorcycle license (Class M driver license). This requirement also applies to operators of motor-driven cycles and mopeds.

To receive a license to operate a motorcycle, applicants must pass a written test covering traffic laws pertaining to motorcycles and a road test. The road test may be waived.

An applicant (must be age 16 or older) who has passed a Department of Public Safety approved Basic Motorcycle Operator Training Course, and has an unrestricted (not an instructional permit) Class A, B, or C license, can present an MSB-8 completion certificate or a completion card from a course meeting Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum standards.


 

The lack of clear policy on filtering and lane-splitting could use AMA attention in Texas. Photograph courtesy of RidetoWork.org.

The lack of clear policy on filtering and lane-splitting could use AMA attention in Texas. Photograph courtesy of RidetoWork.org.

A special note about lane splitting

In spite of several “lane splitting” bills having been introduced in different sessions of the Texas Legislature, to date none has been signed into law. The concept of “lane sharing” is not specifically addressed by existing Texas statute, so lane-splitting is neither specifically permitted, nor prohibited.  A lane-splitting rider stopped by a peace officer will be subject to the interpretation of the peace officer at the time.

However, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has decided to broadly interpret an existing statute so that lane-splitting falls under it, and is illegal. But is the language is so vague in their assertion, it buggers the question whether it’s legal to apply a statute so broadly.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reports the following regarding lane-splitting

The law doesn’t specifically say one way or the other, but there are several statutes that may come to bear depending upon the circumstances, i.e. right of way, obligation to drive in a single lane, signal intention, passing with safety, etc. Motorcycles are considered equally as cars regarding traffic laws, so the single lane, signal intention and other statutes in the Transportation Code could come in to play.

The main statute that makes “lane splitting” illegal is Transportation Code Section 545.060, entitled “Driving on Roadway Laned for Traffic.”

  • An operator on a roadway divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic:
    • shall drive as nearly practical entirely within a single lane; and
    • may not move from the lane unless that movement can be made safely.

     

Where’s the AMA?

Although the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has been involved in supporting lane-splitting legislation in California and other states, it has thus far been reluctant to offer any opinion or assistance on this issue in Texas. Texas riders who are AMA members might want to contact them and express an opinion about their lack of interest and action  in Texas, the state with the second highest number of motorcyclists in the USA. This is what you’re paying dues for. They should be working for us, too, not just California’s riders.

AMA Contacts
(800) 262-5646
(614) 856-1900


Texas Department of Safety Motorcycle Operator’s Manual

You can download the PDF or print directly from this subwindow.


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