How to Obtain Your Motorcycle Learners Permit

Regardless of your vehicle, you need a license before you can get on the road. Most vehicular motorists can get away with a Class C (noncommercial) license. However, this is not the case for motorcyclists.

Motorcyclists are required to obtain a Class M (motorcycle) license. But before obtaining one, you must get a learner's permit and fulfill certain requirements. These requirements differ from your standard license and depend on your location.

Know the Process for Your State

The first step toward obtaining a permit is different in each state. Some states may require you to complete a motorcycle safety course to be eligible for a learner's permit. The age at which you can apply for a permit also varies from state to state.

And yet some states are rather easy. In Maryland, existing licensed drivers can complete an MVA-approved safety course to get a Class M endorsement.

Compare some processes in Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina as an example:

  • Tennessee allows riders aged 16 to apply for a license and those aged 15 with additional restrictions. They must pass a "rules of the road" test with at least 80% and provide specific documentation.
  • GA riders can get either a Class M license or a Class M Instructional Permit. Riders must be at least 17 years of age and minors must have a guardian sign off on their application before receiving a Georgia motorcycle permit. Additional tests are required but can be waived by completing a basic rider course within a certain time frame.
  • You must be at least 15 before you're able to take an SC motorcycle permit test, with additional restrictions for those under 18. While you don't need to complete a safety course for the permit, you do need to complete one before receiving your full license. You must also complete a Motorcycle Safety Foundation skills certification via a DMV-approved program. If you fail three times, you cannot get your permit within the state.

The requirements listed above are not comprehensive and are to illustrate how different the processes in each state can be.

Do your due diligence and reach out to your local DMV if you have any questions about requirements that apply to you.

Preparing to Obtain Your Learner's Permit

Almost all states require both a vision and a knowledge test. Most, if not all, states offer a motorcycle permit practice test on their state DMV website. These practice tests can be taken repeatedly and are a great way to ensure you're prepared for the real thing.

You can also find a new rider's handbook on that website. It may or may not be separate from the manual provided for regular motorists and details all the information covered in the test.

Even if it isn't required in your state, completing a motorcycle safety course before pursuing a permit is a good idea. The hands-on nature of these programs allows you to get a feel for motorcycles before acquiring one and can help you choose the right bike.

Can You Drive a Motorcycle with a Permit?

Restrictions on permitted drivers, again, are different depending on your location. These restrictions should be communicated to you as you obtain the permit.

So, can you drive a motorcycle with a permit? The answer is yes, and you often must spend some hours on the road before you're eligible for your full license. But you will face certain restrictions.

You can most likely not have a passenger with just a learner's permit. You will also likely be restricted to driving at certain hours of the day. Depending on your age, you may also have to be accompanied by a licensed rider of a certain age.

Is there any part of your state's permitting process that seems unclear or confusing? Steelhorse Law specializes in supporting motorcyclists in Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Don't hesitate to contact our team to help make the process run smoothly.

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