Motorcycle laws vary from state to state. It’s important to know and understand the rules enforced in any state through which you travel. Alabama has implemented laws pertaining to the use of motorcycles for the safety of their drivers, passengers, and other motorists sharing the road.
If you live in Alabama, or just ride through on a road trip, the state’s motorcycle laws will apply. You will want to know about legally required accessories and insurance. Get to know these essential Alabama motorcycle laws before you hit the open road.
Understanding Alabama’s Motorcycle Laws
Most motorcyclists express a feeling of freedom when they ride. While motorcycles can be more fun than driving cars, they’re also more dangerous. That’s why Alabama riders need to be familiar with these 4 areas of Alabama motorcycle law:
Class M Endorsement Driver’s License Laws
Alabama motorists must add a Class M endorsement to a valid driver’s license to operate a motorcycle. You must pass the Department of Public Safety’s motorcycle knowledge exam or complete a motorcycle safety course to obtain a motorcycle endorsement.
Helmet and Footwear Laws
The state of Alabama currently has a universal motorcycle helmet law. This law requires motorcyclists of all ages to wear helmets that have a solid exterior layer and a secured chinstrap. Be sure to purchase a helmet that fits properly.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation reminds riders that helmets can save lives and prevent serious brain injuries. All research and evidence point to the fact that helmets really do work.
Drivers and passengers are also required to wear shoes while operating a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle.
Motorcycle Passenger Laws
If you have a passenger riding on the bike, Alabama law requires the passenger to have a separate seat and dedicated footrests, according to the Alabama Department of Public Safety. Make sure that there is a strap or firm handholds for your passenger to hold onto, as well.
The passenger must also have adequate safety equipment, including a solid helmet, and abide by footwear rules.
Lane Sharing Laws
In Alabama, a maximum of two motorcycles may share a lane side by side. According to the Alabama Department of Public Safety, it is unsafe to have more than two motorbikes sharing a single lane side by side.
Many motorcyclists around the country practice lane splitting, which is when they travel between two vehicles. Despite it being a widespread practice, this is illegal in many states, including Alabama. Because of the small size of motorcycles, not to mention inattentive drivers, this is a common cause of serious crashes as many drivers fail to check blind spots before changing lanes.
Lane sharing laws also apply when motorcycles pass another vehicle. Motorcycle riders must pass legally and avoid lane splitting in no-passing zones.
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Legally Required Motorcycle Accessories
All motorcycles are different. They may not even have similar accessories. Alabama requires you to use some but not all accessories. The accessories you need to use include:
- Daytime headlights
- Side mirrors
- Handlebars less than 15” above the sear
- Passenger seat and footrest
You may choose to use additional accessories for safety reasons. However, the following are not legally required:
- Turn signals
- Eye protection
- Gloves or protective clothing
Although saddlebags are not legally required, you may want to consider adding them to your motorcycle if you intend to carry packages. You cannot carry anything that requires you to hold it. You must keep both hands free to operate your vehicle.
Motorcycle Auto Insurance in Alabama
In addition to following the motorcycle laws in Alabama, motorists must also carry auto insurance. All motorcyclists must carry liability insurance to cover damages to other people’s injuries or property damage. Alabama’s state minimum coverage includes:
- $25,000 for bodily injury for 1 person
- $50,000 for bodily injury for 2 people or more
- $25,000 for property damage or destruction
Of course, you also have the option to buy additional coverage to protect your finances in the event of a motorcycle crash. Some drivers opt for full coverage, which includes comprehensive and collision insurance. Comprehensive insurance will also cover damage to your bike other than collisions.
Penalties for Violating Alabama Motorcycle Laws
Breaking the law in Alabama can result in severe penalties. The consequences will depend on your offense. If you fail to obey Alabama’s motorcycle laws, you may face:
- Tickets and fines
- Driver’s license suspension
- Motorcycle impound and fees
- Jail time
For example, riding a motorcycle without a license puts you at risk for a $10 to $100 fine plus a $50 traffic penalty fine. However, if you are driving without a license because your license has been suspended or revoked, the fines range from $100 to $500 and you may spend up to 180 days in jail.
Alabama enforces motorcycle laws for the safety of its citizens and all drivers. It is important to respect, understand, and abide by these laws. For more details, refer to the Alabama Motorcycle Operator Manual.
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