Motorcycle License in Maryland
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The best way to begin a quest for a motorcycle or M class license is by studying the Motorcycle Operator Manual published by the state. The book will answer just about any question you may come up with regarding the application process. It also has loads of invaluable information on what it takes to ride a motorcycle and what the general rules of the road entail. Of course, you will also find all the answers to the written motorcycle test in these pages.
Obtaining a motorcycle license does involve many of the same facets as a standard driver license. There is just more to learn and training can involve a bit more time if you choose to go that route (or have to because of your age).
The important age when it comes to a motorcycle license is 18. If you are above 18 at the time and you wish to apply, then you'll go through the process without having any additional requirements imposed on you.
Applicants under 18, however, need to enroll in and successfully complete the state's Motorcycle Safety Program. The classes are given April through October in a variety of locations throughout the state.
If you don't already have a Maryland driver license, this rider safety course is required on top of all the other provisions you must meet through the graduated licensing program. You'll also need a parent or guardian to sign the your application, authorizing you to get the license.
The minimum age to apply for a motorcycle learner's permit (much like the automobile learner's permit) is 15 years and nine months.
You must confirm your age, name, and residency by providing the proper documentation.
Where to Apply
To apply for a motorcycle license you will need to take a bevy of tests, fill out documents, and supply evidence of your age and that you reside in Maryland. Hence, this needs to be accomplished in person at a full-service MVA office.
However, you do have other options, especially if you enroll in a Motorcycle Safety Program. These classes are offered at various locations throughout the state (usually at community colleges), and a couple of locations in Baltimore proper, including the MVA headquarters.
At the completion of the program, you are issued a certificate that essentially gives you a free pass through the MVA testing process. Present this at an MVA office and you will receive the license.
This is the Mount Everest of the process. You can even look at it as "finals week"―the last step toward earning a motorcycle license and riding off into the Maryland sunset. It involves exams, and you need to ace each one to move to the next one. It's a bit like a game show, minus the chance to win a million dollars.
- Vision test: Both eyes must be at a minimum of 20/40 with a range of vision at 140 degrees. If you already wear contacts or eyeglasses you will be issued (if you pass the other tests) a restricted license. It will necessitate that you always operate a vehicle using the corrective lenses.
- Road sign and marker identification test: This is where you show that you know the difference between a yield sign and a stop sign, and prove that you have an understanding of things like the double yellow line. If you say it leads to Oz, then you most likely will not move on to the penultimate exam: the written test.
- Written exam: If this is your first license, you will need to take both the general driving exam and the motorcycle-specific test. Both are multiple choice with the material taken directly from the manuals. Scoring 80% or higher is the only way to move on to the last and most important step (riding the obstacle course). But passing the written exams will get you a learner's permit, which will allow you to practice before taking the plunge.
- Motorcycle skills test: This test puts you in the saddle so you can demonstrate your ability to handle a motorcycle through a series of set obstacles. This includes the cone weave, sharp left turn, balancing in a straight line, the quick stop, and more. This is one exam you do not want to tally points on. Hitting 12 will require you to take the test again. That can be as soon as the next day. However, if you fail at the second try you will need to wait a week before taking it again.
While the safety course is voluntary for riders over 18, every motorcyclist should be concerned about safety on the road and, most importantly, being seen. Check out the MVA's informative brochure, Increasing Motorcycle Awareness.
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