Understanding Motorcycle Laws in Florida
One of the best parts about living in Florida is the year round good weather, allowing for outdoor activities like sunbathing at the beach, playing golf with friends, or cruising down scenic roads on a sunny afternoon. For most, there are few better places to enjoy than our state. Whether you are a new enthusiast or an experienced rider, it is critical to understand the laws for motorcyclists that apply specifically to Florida riders.
The first step to understanding motorcycle laws in Florida is the need for a motorcycle endorsement (aka a motorcycle license).
In Florida, a motorcycle endorsement means that on your Florida driver license it will say the words “Motorcycle Also” or “Motorcycle Only” at the bottom of the license, meaning that you are legal to drive a motorcycle on Florida roads.
Anyone operating a vehicle with two or three wheels in the state of Florida, which does not have an enclosed cab or is not under 50cc, will need to be endorsed, regardless of experience or expertise.
In order to obtain an endorsement, Florida requires a would-be rider to take a rider safety training course, most often the MSF Basic Rider Course. Also, you must possess a valid driver license or a valid learner’s permit before starting the course. After you complete the course, you will need to visit a DMV office to have your DL endorsed. Once you complete the class, and of course pay the state, you will be legally ready to ride. But there is more information you will need to comprehend before you hit the road.
Helmets and Eye Protection
Florida repealed the universal motorcycle helmet requirement in 2000 which required all persons and passengers on a motorcycle to wear a securely fastened helmet. Today, the law only requires a person under the age of 21 to wear a helmet, however, if you choose not to wear one, you must carry at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injury. The law read:
“…a person over 21 years of age may operate or ride upon a motorcycle without wearing protective headgear securely fastened upon his or her head if such person is covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.”
However, Florida does require a rider to wear eye protection while operating a motorcycle. This law is to prevent accidents due to foreign objects entering the driver’s eyes. The law reads:
Passengers and Headphones
Florida also has laws as it pertains to carrying a passenger on a motorcycle. Mainly, that the seat must be designed, either as one seat or separately, to carry an additional passenger. They must also have their own foot pegs. Florida does not have a restriction on how old the passenger must be.
One Florida law that is often not thought about until later in the hobby, is whether or not speakers in helmets are allowed. While operating a regular passenger vehicle, drivers are not permitted to wear headphones, since they may impede their ability to hear other traffic or emergency vehicles. In Florida, this law applies to motorcycles as well, however, helmets with built-in speakers are permitted.
In the state of Florida, a person may operate a motorcycle under the age of 21, however, they must have a special plate tag that is of unique design and color in order to designate them as so. The most common one is a plain white plate that says “under 21” in large red letters.
Despite some rumors that have gone around in the past, a person must be 16 years of age with a valid Class E driver’s license to operate a moped (or motorcycle) in Florida.
Miscellaneous Laws and Requirements
In the state of Florida, the following laws apply:
- Only one side-view mirror is required
- Turn signals are not required
- No person can modify their exhaust system in a way that the noise emitted is above that emitted by the vehicle as originally manufactured.
- A motorcycle must be no louder than 78 to 86 decibels, depending on the year of manufacture and the speed at which the sound is measured.
- Handlebars can be no higher than the top of the shoulder of the operator when seated on the motorcycle properly.
- Motorcyclist may operate two abreast (side-by-side) in one traffic lane.
Lane splitting, in which a motorcycle passes a car in the same lane or drives between two rows of cars while stopped or moving slow, is illegal. Although it is legal in some states, it is not in Florida.
License plate tags must be permanently fixed to prevent the ease of flipping up the tag to conceal one’s identity
Florida Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
Florida’s No-Fault, or PIP law does not apply to motorcycles. However, Florida does have something called the Financial Responsibility (FR) law, which applies to all motor vehicles in Florida, including motorcycles.
Florida also does not require a person injured on a motorcycle to prove injury in order to be compensated for pain and suffering, which vehicle drivers must.
Generally, there are two ways to obtain motorcycle insurance in Florida. The first is to buy coverage from an insurance carrier, which is obviously the most common. But there is one other way. Motorcyclists can insure themselves by getting a Self-Insurance Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility based on their net worth.
A licensed insurance agent can provide information about insurance options available, but the minimum requirements for motorcycle insurance in Florida are as follows:
- $10,000 for one person for bodily injury liability;
- $20,000 for two or more people for bodily injury liability; and
- $10,000 per crash for property damage liability.
Additionally, purchasing uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is highly recommended in case of the need to be compensated for damages as the result of injury caused by someone who is not insured.
Florida motorcyclists will need to show proof of insurance, just like a vehicle driver, by presenting either their insurance card from their insurance carrier or their Self-Insurance Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility.
Failure to carry property damage and bodily injury liability insurance in case of a crash, DUI conviction, or other occurrences outlined in Florida’s FR law (which can be read at Florida Stat. § 324), may result in suspension of driver’s licenses, motorcycle registration, and motorcycle license plates, as well as fees to regain driving privileges.
As Tampa Bay motorcycle accident lawyers, Dolman Law Group regularly represents the interests of victims who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. Whether you are a motorcycle rider or a motorist, we are committed to handling your injury claim and advancing the case into litigation if the insurance carrier refuses to evaluate the claim in a fair and prudent manner. If you have been injured as the result of a motorcycle accident, contact Dolman Law Group to speak with an experienced Clearwater motorcycle accident attorney at (727) 451-6900.
Content editing by Jordan Monarrez Puckett