Motorcycle License in California
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California offers two classes of motorcycle license: M1 and M2. With an M1 license, you may ride any type of motorcycle with an attached motor, or any motorized scooter. With an M2 classification, you will be permitted to drive a motorized bicycle, a moped, a bicycle with an attached motor, or a motorized scooter only.
Everyone, regardless of age, first gets a learner's permit to practice driving your motorcycle before the driving test. If you're under 18, you must have your permit for minimum of 6 months before the driving test; if you're over 18, there's no specified practice period.
To pass the exam, study the California Motorcycle Handbook before your appointment. The handbook contains all of the information, rules, and laws that apply to motorcycles. It's also full of helpful hints and tips.
NOTE: As of 2011, all under-21 motorcycle permit applicants must complete a state-approved motorcycle safety course.
With your motorcycle learner's permit, you may practice driving a motorcycle. However, you are not allowed to:
- Drive your motorcycle at night.
- Drive your motorcycle on the freeway.
- Carry any passengers on your motorcycle.
Your $32 learner's permit application fee will be good for one year. You may take the written and skills tests three times. If your application expires before you pass the tests and are issued a license, you must start the application process all over.
Form DL 44
If you'd like to do your paperwork prior to your appointment, call (800) 777-0133 to request DMV Form DL 44. The form must contain an original signature and isn't available from the Internet. You may also pick up a copy at your local DMV office, or complete it on the day of your appointment.
At Your Appointment
You will need to:
- Submit form DL 44.
- Pass the vision test.
- Give a thumbprint.
- Pass the written traffic laws and signs test for the license you now have, unless you took it within the last year.
- Provide proof of successfully completing a motorcycle safety course.
- Also pass the motorcycle laws test.
No Driver License
If you don't have a regular driver license, you must also:
- Present an acceptable birth date and legal presence document.
- Give the DMV your true full name.
- Provide your Social Security number.
Under 18 Requirements
Additionally, if you're younger than 18, you must:
- Be at least 15 1/2 years old.
- Have your parents sign form DL 44.
You may apply for your motorcycle license after:
- You've held your motorcycle learner's permit for at least minimum of 6 months, if you're 16 or 17 years old.
- You've passed a California Motorcyclist Safety Program training course (the Basic RiderCourse) administered by the California Highway Patrol, and been issued a completion certificate.
Bring the motorcycle class completion certificate to the California DMV, and they'll issue you an interim license valid for 60 days, until you receive your new photo license in the mail. The fee is $32.
- Complete the motorcycle rider training course's completion certificate and drop off at any DMV location.
- Schedule a motorcycle driving test.
When you arrive to apply and take the exam, you must:
- Provide either your original birth certificate or a passport.
- Provide your license.
- Complete Form DL 44.
- Pay a $32 application fee.
If you're older than 21, you may enroll in the Basic RiderCourse training program, which will waive your skills test. It might also lower your insurance rates, so it's a good bet.
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