Motorcycle laws vary from state to state. It’s important to know the rules enforced in any state you travel through on your bike. Following them could keep you safe and help you avoid a ticket.
Whether you live in Alabama or just plan to ride through, the state’s motorcycle laws will apply. You will want to know about legally required accessories and insurance. Get to know these important Alabama motorcycle laws before you hit the open road.
Understanding Alabama’s Motorcycle Laws
Most motorcyclists express a feeling of freedom when they ride. In fact, that’s a big part of the allure for many motorcyclists. While riding motorcycles can be more fun than driving cars, motorcycles are also more dangerous. That’s why Alabama riders need to be familiar with these four areas of Alabama motorcycle law:
Class M Endorsement Driver’s License Laws
According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Alabama motorists must add a Class M endorsement to a valid driver’s license to operate a motorcycle on public streets. You must pass the Department of Public Safety’s motorcycle knowledge exam or complete a motorcycle safety course to obtain a motorcycle endorsement.
Inexperience is a common cause of motorcycle crashes. This endorsement ensures motorcyclists have the knowledge to ride safely and prevent injuries when possible. You could face penalties if you drive a motorcycle on public roads without this endorsement.
Helmet and Footwear Laws
The state of Alabama currently has a universal motorcycle helmet law. Ala. Code § 32-5A-245 requires motorcyclists of all ages to wear helmets. Ala. Code § 32-12-41 states that those helmets must have a solid exterior layer and a secured chinstrap. Be sure to purchase a helmet that fits properly from a trustworthy dealer. Getting an unapproved or used helmet could be as dangerous as riding with no helmet.
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 work.
Drivers and passengers must also wear shoes while operating a motorcycle. The best choice is leather boots or other solid, durable footwear.
Motorcycle Passenger Laws
If you have a passenger riding on the bike, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency states you must have a seat that is large enough for two people and dedicated passenger footrests. This means you cannot simply have someone ride along on a motorcycle designed for only the driver. It must be properly equipped for two people.
Make sure there is a strap or firm handholds for your passenger to hold onto, as well. The days of having the passenger hold you around your waist are gone. Newer options ensure you have full control of your body to drive the motorcycle and the passenger has easier-to-grip handholds for their safety.
The passenger must also have adequate safety equipment that meets the standards set by state law, including a solid helmet and proper footwear.
Lane Sharing Laws
In Alabama, it is legal for two motorcycles to ride side-by-side. However, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says a staggered formation (with one bike taking the lead on the left side of the lane and the trailing bike riding a safe distance behind on the right side of the lane) is safer. You should also ride in a single-file fashion when turning, going around a curve, or entering or exiting a highway.
Many motorcyclists around the country practice lane splitting, which involves traveling between two lanes of stopped or slow-moving vehicles. Despite being a widespread practice, this is illegal in many states, including Alabama (Ala. Code § 32-5A-242). This is a common cause of serious crashes, as many drivers fail to check blind spots before changing lanes and it is easy to miss small motorcycles.
Lane sharing laws also apply when motorcycles pass other vehicles. Motorcycle riders must pass legally and avoid lane splitting in no-passing zones.
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Required Motorcycle Accessories
All motorcycles are different. They may not even have similar parts and accessories. Alabama requires you to use some but not all accessories. According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, your motorcycle must include the following features to be street-legal:
- Brake light
- Front and rear brakes
- Turn signals
- Two mirrors
You may choose to use additional accessories for safety or convenience. For example, you may consider adding saddlebags to your motorcycle if you intend to carry packages or other items with you when you ride. 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 other people’s injuries or property damage. Alabama’s state minimum coverage includes:
- $25,000 for bodily injury for one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury for two 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 insurance and collision insurance.
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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
Alabama enforces motorcycle laws for the safety of its citizens and all drivers. It is important to respect, understand, and abide by these laws.
What Should I Do if I Am in a Motorcycle Accident in Alabama?
Alabama has a tort system for all traffic accidents. This means victims of a motorcycle crash may aim to hold the at-fault motorist who caused the accident legally responsible for damages. These damages may include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Current and future lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Motorcycle repair or replacement costs
- Disability or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
Seeking compensation is generally done by filing an insurance claim based on the at-fault party’s auto liability policy, although lawsuits are sometimes necessary.
Discussing your case with an Alabama motorcycle accident attorney may be the best way to determine what you need to do to seek compensation for your expenses.
Why You Should Work With Morris Bart & Associates, LLC After a Motorcycle Accident in Alabama
At the Morris Bart law office, we represent injured motorcyclists based on contingency. This means we won’t charge you any upfront costs. Instead, we will only take a portion of the settlement or award that we win on your behalf. Our lawyers will ensure you do not settle for less than you deserve.
Many of our former clients have left us positive reviews. Here are just a few:
- “Since my motor vehicle accident, Morris Bart has been professional, courteous, and timely in taking care of my case. They also have made a process that can seem overwhelming, feel easy. I feel confident knowing they are handling my case in the best possible way.” – Kye H.
- “Thomas Putnam handled my case with absolute respect and dignity. There was so much involved and the firm was able to handle my case with ease and prestige. Thank you for all that you all have done!” – Kristy K.
- “Very professional. My attorney Matt went beyond the call of duty to make sure all of my needs were met. This firm really does an awesome job!” – Amanda P.
You can expect a similar experience when you choose to work with our Alabama motorcycle accident attorneys.
Speak to a Lawyer from Morris Bart & Associates, LLC for Free Today
At the Morris Bart law firm, representatives from our Alabama offices are available today to talk to you about your crash. Our lawyers provide free consultations to help injured crash victims and their families understand their rights and how we can help them. You may be able to recover compensation based on your injuries and losses.
Reach out to our team today to connect with an attorney at our nearest location. We will come to you from our Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, or Montgomery office.
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