Motorcycle License in Washington DC
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Compared with cars, motorcycles are an especially dangerous form of travel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, per mile traveled, the number of deaths on motorcycles is about 32 times the number in cars. Despite these harrowing statistics, motorcycles are a fun and exhilarating way to get around.
Helmet use, which is required by law in the District of Columbia, greatly diminishes the severity of injuries and the likelihood of death in the event of a crash.
In order to operate a motorcycle in DC, you must obtain from the Department of Motor Vehicles a motorcycle endorsement on your regular driver's license. You may not ride a motorcycle without first having a regular DC driver's license.
DC law defines a motorcycle as a two- or three-wheeled motor vehicle that has one or more of the following characteristics: piston displacement of more than 50cc, capable of traveling over 35 miles per hour on level ground, more than 1.5 brake horsepower (S.A.E. rating), wheels under 16 inches in diameter, and a manual transmission.
To get a motorcycle endorsement on your license, you must be at least 18, already have a valid DC driver's license, and pass the motorcycle demonstration test (this is the on-road test). Instead of taking this test in DC, you also have the option of providing proof that you passed a motorcycle demonstration course in Maryland or Virginia.
To add the motorcycle endorsement to your driver's license, go to any DMV service location and fill out the motorcycle endorsement application. Submit proof that you have passed a motorcycle demonstration test, and then pay the required $44
fee for your new license with a motorcycle endorsement.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, whose mission is to improve motorcyclist education, training, and operator licensing, offers a 20-hour safety course in neighboring Maryland and northern Virginia. It does not offer courses in DC at this time.
For a safety primer from the comfort of your own home, you can download a free brochure about motorcycle safety produced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in partnership with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
Finally, the Automobile Driver and Motorcycle Operator's Study Guide is available online. This booklet, in question-and-answer format, contains information you'll need to know for the motorcycle endorsement demonstration test.
You'll hear this time and time again, but it's true: Wearing an approved helmet and obeying speed and safety laws will ensure that your motorcycling adventures are enjoyable and safe.
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