New York State Motorcycle Laws and Licensing

According to the NYS DMV Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 501

To drive a motorcycle in NYS, you must have a Class M or MJ Operator's License or Learner's Permit. To get a learner's permit, you must pass a written exam at a DMV testing center. When a learner is practicing, he/she must be supervised by a driver with a valid motorcycle license. The supervising driver must be within sight and no more than one-quarter mile from the learner at all times. A minimum of 30 hours of practice is recommended.

Road Test

On the day of the test, you must be accompanied by a driver at least 18 years old who is licensed to drive the motorcycle as well as a car or truck to be used to transport the license examiner.

If you have a valid driver's license and a motorcycle operator's permit, you may receive a waiver of the road test by completing an educational training course given by an instructor certified by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Note: If you take your road test on a three-wheeled motorcycle, then your license will be limited to three-wheeled motorcycles.

Laws for riding on NYS roadways:

  • Motorcycle helmet use is required for all riders. Motorcycle helmets must meet US DOT federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS 218).
  • Eye protection is required for all riders. Eyewear must, at a minimum, conform to standards established by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI – Z87.1).
  • Daytime headlight use is required. Headlight modulators are permitted.
  • A passenger seat and footrest are required if carrying a passenger.
  • Motorcycle helmet speakers may only have one earphone.
  • Additional equipment required:
    • Lights including headlight, taillight, stop lamp and license plate lamp
    • At least one red rear reflector
    • Brakes (on both wheels if manufactured after 1971)
    • Directional signals (if manufactured after 1985)
    • Turn signals (if manufactured after 1985)
    • A horn or other warning device
    • At least one rearview mirror, although one on each handlebar is recommended
    • A muffler is required; "cutouts' or mufflers with removable baffles are not allowed
    • Handlebars or grips must be less than 15 inches above than the driver's seat
  • Only two motorcycles may operate side by side in a single lane.