Does driving a passenger car not do it for you, and you want to experience the thrill that can only come with getting on a motorbike and traveling down the road with the open air blowing all around you? Below, we’ll outline motorcycle license requirements in West Virginia so that you can adequately prepare yourself to secure it and keep it once you have it.
Steps To Obtain a West Virginia Motorcycle License
According to the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (WV DMV), anyone wishing to travel on public roads by motorbike must first obtain a motorcycle learner’s permit before one of the following:
- A Class F motorcycle-only driver’s license
- A motorcycle endorsement (Class F) on your driver’s license
Step #1: Secure a Learner’s Permit in West Virginia
The steps you need to take to secure a motorcycle instruction (learner’s) permit vary depending on whether you’re above or under the age of 18.
Minors, those aged 16 to under 18, must first secure a level 2 graduated driver’s license (Level II GDL), also referred to as an intermediate license, as the first of many steps to obtaining full licensure. This is one additional step minors must follow in addition to aspiring motorcyclists 18 and older.
All aspiring motorcyclists, regardless of age, must sit for and pass the knowledge test administered at their local DMV to receive their learner’s permit.
It’s important to note that the learner’s permit lasts 180 days and only entitles motorcycle operators to travel alone on their bikes during daylight hours. It’s not renewable. A permit holder must either secure their motorcycle endorsement or standalone license within that time frame or otherwise re-take the knowledge test to receive a new permit.
Step #2: Obtain a West Virginia Motorcycle License
West Virginians must wait at least seven days after securing their learner’s permit before they become eligible to take an on-cycle skills test necessary to secure a Class F motorcycle endorsement or standalone license in West Virginia. This on-bike testing requirement is waivable. Motorcycle instruction permit holders can avoid having to take the on-cycle skills test by completing the Motorcycle Safety Program Basic or Experienced Rider Course.
Laws Motorcyclists Must Follow To Retain Their West Virginia Motorcycle License
There are many laws that motorcyclists must abide by in our state. WV Code § 17c-15-44 describes some of them, which include:
- All motorcycle operators and their passengers must wear helmets that meet specific requirements as described in section (a) of the above-referenced law
- Anyone riding a motorcycle in our state must utilize shatter-resistant or safety glasses, eye goggles, or a face shield that aligns with statutory requirements outlined in section (b) of the aforementioned code
- West Virginians cannot operate any motorized cycle outlined in section (c) of the statute above that features handlebars that reach higher than 15 inches above the operator’s seat when at its full height
- Motorcyclists can only carry as many passengers as there are seats and footrests installed to accommodate them or if there is a properly installed sidecar with a safety harness to carry them
- All motorcyclists must ensure their motorbikes have properly installed rearview mirrors attached to the handlebars that provide them with an adequate view of traffic for up to 200 feet to their rear
Other sections of state code, as outlined in the West Virginia Motorcycle Operator Manual, spell out how motorcyclists, whether operating their bikes on permits or full licenses, have the same responsibilities and rights as any other motor vehicle operator (this includes passenger car drivers). This means that motorcyclists must:
- Yield to the right-of-way of others (such as when making left turns) when at intersections
- Obey the same speed limits as passenger car operators
- Travel in the same direction as the rest of the traffic
Some special requirements apply to those with motorcycle licenses here in the Mountain State, one of which is WV Code § 17c-7-9, which essentially amounts to what most take as West Virginia’s de facto law prohibiting lane splitting. While our state doesn’t specifically have a law spelling out how this practice is unlawful, the above-referenced statute does specify how vehicles must remain in a single lane.
Issues That Can Get Your Motorcycle License Suspended or Revoked in West Virginia
Any traffic infractions or moving violations such as the following may result in licensees, motorcyclists included, accumulating points within the WV DMV Point System:
- Hit and run (leaving the scene of a crash)
- Reckless driving
- Fleeing law enforcement
- Speeding in a school zone
While six points will result in a warning letter, 12 or more will result in license suspensions of varying lengths from 30 to 120 days. Further convictions during the suspension period can lead to an additional extension. Points assessed vary depending on the severity of the offense.
Reinstatement of Your Motorcycle License Once Taken Away
Any motorist’s completion of a defensive driving course will give them a three-point deduction on their license and may reduce the length of suspension. Ultimately, any licensee wishing to have the state reinstate their license at the conclusion of their suspension must complete an application and mail it along with the processing fee to the DMV.
As a motorcyclist, you may follow all the required steps to secure your West Virginia motorcycle license and never find yourself needing to count points or worry about suspensions because you do everything right. However, those you share the road with may not be as cautious and may inflict harm upon you. Know that our Charleston motorcycle accident attorneys are here for you if a motorist harms you and recovering compensation for medical bills and other accident-related expenses becomes necessary. An initial consultation is no-risk and completely free, so contact a lawyer at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC about your case.