Driving a motorcycle on the open road can be both relaxing and exciting.  But you should become very familiar with the rules of the road in your state before you take that first ride.  Complying with state motorcycle laws can keep you safe and may help you avoid getting a citation or being involved in an accident.  Ohio has a number of laws that pertain to getting a motorcycle license, operating/riding a motorcycle, and having insurance. 

Getting a Motorcycle License in Ohio 

To operate a motorcycle legally in Ohio, you must have a motorcycle license, or a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license.  The requirements for getting a license or endorsement are different for those under age 18 and those over the age of 18. 

People 18 years or older can obtain the license or endorsement by passing a multiple-choice knowledge test and a motorcycle skills test.  The knowledge test is based on information from the Ohio Motorcycle Operator Manual and asks questions pertaining to equipment, safety and handling emergencies.  The motorcycle skills test assesses your ability to operate a bike and covers things like accelerating, braking, adjusting to changing traffic, and communicating with others on the road. 

The process of getting a license or endorsement if you’re under 18 starts with a visit to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and taking a written test, and then getting a Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card (TIPIC).  Then the permit holder must complete a Motorcycle Ohio Course (16 hours and includes classroom and on-cycle instruction and testing), a driver education course (24 hours of classroom instruction and eight hours of driving) and complete 50 hours of driving.  The TIPIC allows operation of a motorcycle only in daylight, prohibits passengers or operations on interstate highways, and requires operators to wear a helmet and eye protection.  After passing the Motorcycle Ohio Course, the operator then has 60 days to visit the BMV and purchase their license or endorsement. 

Ohio Motorcycle Insurance Laws 

If you are operating a motorcycle in Ohio, you are required to have insurance.  Minimum insurance requirements for motorcycles are the same as for other passenger vehicles:   

  • $25,000 for bodily injury or death of another person in an accident;
  • $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more individuals in one accident; and 
  • $25,000 for property damage suffered by someone else in an accident. 

Both insurance companies and personal injury attorneys agree that it is always advisable to carry more insurance than the bare minimum.  If you cause an accident, it is unlikely the minimum insurance coverage required by law will cover an accident.  Higher insurance coverage could protect you from having your wages garnished or liens placed against assets.  Make sure you also understand how your insurance covers your medical expenses should you be injured while you are riding your bike, because it is likely if you are involved in an accident, you will be injured. 

There is also a chance that you and your bike might be hit by an uninsured motorist. Injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents are often very serious resulting in high medical treatment and lost wages. Motorcycle repairs can also be expensive.   You and your agent should make sure that you have enough Uninsured and Underinsured motorist coverage to protect you and your bike.  You may want to ask your agent whether your insurance policy has medical payments coverage, which is often used to pay medical bills not fully paid by your health insurance company.     

Ohio Motorcycle Operating Laws 

Ohio law governs operating a motorcycle on Ohio roads, including equipment required and allowable maneuvers. 

Helmets: Ohio’s motorcycle law  does not require everyone on a bike to wear a helmet. Motorcycles are grouped in with bicycles and snowmobiles and the helmet law is under Ohio Revised code § 4511.53 “Operation of bicycles, motorcycles and snowmobiles,” which states: 

“No person who is under the age of eighteen years, or who holds a motorcycle operator’s endorsement or license bearing a “novice” designation that is currently in effect…, shall operate a motorcycle on a highway, or be a passenger on a motorcycle, unless wearing a protective helmet on the person’s head, and no other person shall be a passenger on a motorcycle operated by such a person unless similarly wearing a protective helmet.”

The “novice” designation is effective for one year after the date of issuance of the motorcycle operator’s endorsement or license.  Ohio’s helmet law does have one important part that makes it different from other states. The last sentence states, “The provisions of this paragraph or a violation thereof shall not be used in the trial of any civil action.”  This means that if you are involved in a motorcycle accident and not wearing a helmet, you can still pursue a personal injury claim against the person or people who caused the crash. Similarly, if a loved one dies in a crash while not wearing a helmet, their family members may still  pursue a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party.  In other words, whether or not you were wearing a helmet at the time of an accident does not have an effect on filing a personal injury claim.  Note: At GBM Law, we recommend all motorcycle operators and passengers wear helmets. 

Seating / Handlebars: If you are riding a motorcycle on the road, it must have a permanent / regular seat attached to the bike.  Any passengers must also be seated in a regular seat.  Also, if you’re riding on the highway, the handlebars must not “rise higher than the shoulders of the operator when the operator is seated in the operator’s seat or saddle.” 

Lane Splitting: Ohio is one of many states where “lane splitting” (riding a motorcycle between lanes or rows of slow moving or stopped traffic moving in the same direction) is a legal gray area. It’s not specifically legal, but it is not specifically illegal. It’s possible that motorcycle operators could be cited for failing to operate a bike in a marked lane or failing to exercise care when passing.  This would be up to a law enforcement officer’s discretion. 

Riding Two to a Lane: Because motorcycles take up less space than a car, it’s possible for two of them to ride side-by-side in a single lane.  It is not legal to ride more than two motorcycles side by side in a single lane. 

Don’t Delay: Contact an Ohio Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

Ohio motorcycle accident attorneys at GBM LAW have witnessed the life-changing consequences of motorcycle accidents.  Collisions involving motorcycles are far more devastating than those involving just passenger vehicles.  Without the protection of a vehicle, motorcycle operators are extremely vulnerable to serious injury or death. 

Many accidents are 100% preventable and can be attributed to driver negligence.  It’s up to everyone on the road to drive safely and carefully, looking out for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycles and traveling at a safe speed. 

If you or someone close to you has been involved in an Ohio motorcycle accident, we offer a free consultation with one of our lawyers.  We will listen to your story, review your case, explain your options, and answer your questions.  We will evaluate whether you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering and other damages, due to your injuries. 

As part of our contingency fee arrangement on personal injury cases, there is no fee unless we recover money for you. 

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