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Rhode Island Motorcycle Laws

motorcyclist on roadMotorcycle riders know the thrill of being on a bike, but they also know the skill and care required to operate a motorcycle safely. Motorcycle laws in Rhode Island are intended to ensure that motorcycle operators have the knowledge and training needed to stay safe. The state’s laws are also designed to protect motorcyclists from accidents with other vehicles.

The Rhode Island motorcycle accident lawyers of Bottaro Injury Lawyers have decades of combined experience representing victims of motorcycle accidents throughout Rhode Island. Our attorneys are ready to take your call 24/7.

When you turn to us after a motorcycle accident, our team will quickly get to work investigating your case and advising you about your legal rights and options. With our firm’s No Fee Guarantee, you will never need to pay upfront to get our firm’s assistance. We get paid only when we secure compensation for you in your case.

If you have questions about Rhode Island’s motorcycle laws or how they may affect your case if you were involved in an accident, reach out to Bottaro Injury Lawyers for a free consultation with a knowledgeable Rhode Island motorcycle accident lawyer.

Rhode Island Motorcycle Helmet Law

Understanding helmet laws is essential before you get on a motorcycle in Rhode Island. Rhode Island does not require all motorcyclists to wear helmets, just those under 21 or in the first year after being issued a motorcycle license or endorsement. Other motorcycle operators are not required to wear helmets.

How to Get a Motorcycle License in Rhode Island

The process of obtaining a motorcycle license or endorsement in Rhode Island may vary depending on whether you already hold a valid motorcycle license or endorsement from another state.

If you have a valid out-of-state license, you can simply file the appropriate form, turn in your current license, and pay the required fee to the Rhode Island DMV to obtain a Rhode Island license.

However, if you are applying for a motorcycle license for the first time, a more complicated process is involved. First, if you do not have a valid Rhode Island driver’s license, you will need to obtain one before applying for a motorcycle endorsement. A person can get a driver’s license by passing a written knowledge test to obtain a learner’s permit, then passing a road test.

If you already have a valid Rhode Island driver’s license, the process of obtaining a motorcycle license begins with completing a motorcycle safety course offered by the Community College of Rhode Island. Upon completing the course, you can apply for a motorcycle permit from the DMV.

After obtaining a motorcycle permit, you must observe a 30-day trial period before you can apply for a full motorcycle endorsement for your license. You must not receive any traffic tickets during this trial period or get into any accidents. If you get through the trial period without any problems, you can return to the DMV to obtain a new driver’s license with the full motorcycle endorsement.

Do You Have to Take a Rhode Island Motorcycle Course?

If you are applying for a motorcycle endorsement for the first time, you must take a motorcycle course. The required motorcycle safety course offered by the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) involves 13 hours of instruction, divided into three hours of online lectures and two five-hour riding sessions. The motorcycle course must be completed within one calendar year. Classes are held from late March through late October. If the course is not completed in one year, an applicant must re-register, pay the course fee again, and restart the course from the beginning.

CCRI provides training motorcycles for these riding sessions. People taking the course may not ride their own motorcycle to campus. For the riding sessions, you are expected to wear a helmet approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation along with other protective clothing, including eye protection, long pants, long-sleeve shirts or jackets, gloves, and shoes that cover the ankle.

Upon completing the motorcycle safety course, you will receive a completion certificate valid for six months. If you fail to apply for your motorcycle endorsement during this six-month period, you may be required to redo some or all of the course.

What You Need to Know about the Rhode Island Motorcycle Test

You will need to take a written knowledge test at the end of the lecture portion of the CCRI motorcycle safety course and a road skills test at the end of the second riding session. You may retake the written test or road skills test once. Upon a second failure, you may be required to retake a portion of the course. In some instances, you may have to restart the course from the beginning.

Rhode Island Motorcycle Lane Splitting Law

As a motorcycle operator, you need to understand lane splitting and whether it’s illegal in Rhode Island. Lane splitting, or the practice of riding a motorcycle on top of traffic lane dividing lines or in between lanes of vehicular traffic, is outlawed in Rhode Island.

Motorcycle operators must ride within traffic lanes. Motorcycles are entitled to the full width of the lane, which means no other vehicle or part of a vehicle may operate next to a motorcycle in the same lane. However, two motorcycles may ride side-by-side in the same lane.

Motorcycle Laws FAQs

Motorcycle Laws

Will not wearing a helmet affect my motorcycle accident claim?

If you suffer head, facial, or brain injuries in a motorcycle accident in which you were not wearing a helmet, the insurance company for the at-fault driver may argue that your compensation should be reduced. However, not wearing a helmet typically has no bearing on who was at fault for the underlying accident. Our lawyers are prepared to fight for the rights of all injured bikers regardless of whether they wore a helmet.

What is the age to operate a motorcycle in Rhode Island?

An applicant for a motorcycle endorsement in Rhode Island must be at least 16 years old and hold either a provisional license or a standard driver’s license.

Can a child ride on the back of a motorcycle?

In Rhode Island, children of any age can ride as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle. However, children under the age of 12 riding on a motorcycle must have a backrest or other equivalent device and must be able to place their feet on the footrests.

What are the penalties for not wearing a motorcycle helmet in Rhode Island?

Failure to wear a helmet on a motorcycle when required (i.e., new and under-21 motorcycle operators and motorcycle passengers) can result in a ticket for an $85 fine.

Safety Tips for Motorcyclists in Rhode Island

If you ride a motorcycle, you should familiarize yourself with the state’s safety laws. Other requirements and tips to help you reduce the risk of being involved in an accident on your bike include:

  • All operators must wear eye protection approved by the Rhode Island DMV.
  • Motorcycles must be equipped with a rearview mirror.
  • The handlebars on a motorcycle may not rise more than 15 inches above the uppermost portion of the operator’s seat.
  • Any passenger riding on the back of a motorcycle must have a separate rear seat, separate footrests, and a separate handlebar or grip.
  • When riding on a new motorcycle, take time to get accustomed to its acceleration and braking performance by riding in a controlled area such as an empty parking lot.
  • Learn how to handle your motorcycle in poor road conditions, such as slick roads, potholes, and loose gravel.
  • Check your bike every time before setting off, including checking tire pressure, fluid levels, brakes, headlights, and indicators.
  • Follow traffic laws and ride with the flow of traffic.
  • Always ride with your headlight on, even in broad daylight.
  • Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Practice defensive riding, which includes never assuming another motorist will follow the law or that they can see you. Make sure to always have an “out” or know what actions you will take if you encounter an emergency.