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How to Apply for a Motorcycle License in California

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California Motorcycle License

The state of California offers you two options when it comes to getting a California motorcycle license: the M1 and M2 license. An M1 license lets you ride any motorcycle that has an attached motor, or motorized scooters. An M2 license is more restrictive, and only allows you to ride motorized bikes, mopeds, bikes with an attached motor and motorized scooters. However, before you obtain your motorcycle driving license, you have to get your California driving permit.

More Important Information on Motorcycle Licenses

How to Get a Learners Permit

If you are under 18 years of age, you must practice driving with your learning permit for at least six months before you can apply for your motorcycle drivers license. Furthermore, if you are under 21, then you also have to complete a certain kind of state-approved drivers ed course known as motorcycle safety. Once you have done so, you will have to:

  1. Make an appointment at a local DMV to take the written knowledge test.
  2. Fill out Form DL-44 and hand it in to the DMV.
  3. Provide one proof of full true name (only originals or certified copies):
    • Birth certificate
    • U.S. passport
    • Marriage certificate/divorce decree (if name changed)
  4. Provide one proof of birthdate/legal presence in U.S. (only originals or certified copies):
    • U.S. birth certificate
    • U.S. passport
    • U.S. military card
    • Green Card a.k.a. I-551 Form (if non-U.S. citizen)
  5. Provide Social Security Number.
  6. Pass a vision exam.
  7. Provide your thumbprint.
  8. Pass the written exam (for all drivers).
  9. Pass motorcycle laws test (specifically for motorcycle riders).
  10. Provide certificate proving completion of a motorcycle safety course.
  11. Pay $33 application fee:
    • The CA DMV accepts cash, checks, money orders, and debit/ATM cards

DMV Written Test

In the state of California you can take the written test in three different languages:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • American Sign Language (ASL)

In the event you do not pass the test on your first attempt, you will have to study the California Motorcycle Handbook some more and schedule an appointment for a second exam at your earliest convenience. When it comes to the vision exam, your vision cannot be any worse than 20/40. If it does not meet these requirements, you will be asked to obtain corrective lenses before you can take the driving test.

How to Get a Motorcycle License in California

The process for getting a motorcycle license in California varies depending on your situation. For instance, if you are under the age of 21, then you can only apply for a motorcycle license endorsement if you:

  • Have held your motorcycle driving permit for a minimum of six months.
  • Have passed a California motorcycle safety course or Basic Rider Course, which is administered by the CA Highway Patrol.
  • Pay the $33 application fee:
    • The CA DMV accepts cash, checks, money orders, and debit/ATM cards

On the other hand, if you are over the age of 21, then you have one of two options. Either you can complete a motorcycle training course and drop it off at one of the various nearby DMV locations, or you can schedule a motorcycle driving test to receive your motorcycle license in California.
Finally, also available to you is the process to transfer a motorcycle endorsement. In order to do so, you must visit a nearby DMV office - make sure to make an appointment in order to save time - and:

  • Take the written knowledge exam.
  • Provide your birth certificate or passport.
  • Show your motorcycle license.
  • Complete the Form DL-44.
  • Pay the $33 application fee:
    • The CA DMV accepts cash, checks, money orders, and debit/ATM cards

Members of the military must go through the same process in order to obtain a motorcycle drivers license in California.

How to Waive the Driving Skills Test

If you are older than 21 and are applying for a motorcycle endorsement in the state of California, you can enroll in a Basic Rider Course program in order to waive your road test. Additionally, passing this course may also result in lower motorcycle insurance rates for you.

Helmet Requirements

In the state of California, it is the law that motorcycle operators wear a safety helmet when riding. In addition, passengers of a motorcycle are also required to wear a safety helmet at all times. Not doing so will result in fines.

Requirements to Operate a Three-Wheel Motorcycle

If you would like to be able to drive a three-wheel motorcycle, you must obtain a Class C drivers license first. Without a driving license, you will not be able to operate this kind of vehicle. In addition, you must have your motorcycle registered at the local DMV office.

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