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Michigan Motorcycle Laws For Minors: What You Need To Know

May 17, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan motorcycle laws for minors: what you need to know

May is Motorcycle Safety Month and National Youth Traffic Safety Month, which is a fitting time to talk about the Michigan motorcycle laws for minors. It sounds counterintuitive to allow teens and even children to ride motorcycles and motorized vehicles, but it is actually legal.  But being legal and safe are too different things.

As an attorney who has helped far too many people injured in motorcycle crashes, I would advise parents to hold off on giving their kids rides on motorcycles. The statistics on serious injuries –  especially with younger riders and supersport, or “crotch rocket” motorcycles – show that there is no substitute for experience and the riding judgment that comes with it.

Regarding children and preteens riding motorized vehicles, I couldn’t find any accident statistics, but my concern is that the same issues of poor judgment and decision-making are just as likely to occur on a motorized vehicle as on a motorcycle.

Here are answers to some common questions I receive as an attorney on the laws in Michigan regarding minors riding motorcycles:

Is there a specific age, or weight that children can legally ride as a passenger on a motorcycle?

In Michigan, According to the motorcycle laws for minors there is no minimum age for a child to ride on a motorcycle, subject to one exception based on size rather than age:

MCL 257.658a(1) states “A passenger shall not ride on a motorcycle unless his or her feet can rest on the assigned foot rests or pegs” except if “a permanent physical disability” prevents the passenger from doing so.

How old do you have to be to get a motorcycle license in Michigan?

Generally, in order to get a motorcycle license in Michigan, a person must be old enough to get a Michigan driver’s license because the law provides that a person must first have an operator’s license before they can be issued a motorcycle endorsement to legally operate a motorcycle on the roads in Michigan.

For a teenager who is under the age of 18 to obtain a motorcycle endorsement, the Michigan motorcycle laws for minors state that he or she will need to have obtained a graduated driver license and passed a motorcycle safety course.

However, subject to certain limitations, a 16- or 17-year-old may be issued a motorcycle temporary instruction permit.

Here is more information about how a teenager may be able to obtain a motorcycle endorsement according to the Michigan motorcycle laws for minors:

  • Before operating a motorcycle on a Michigan roadway, a person “shall procure a motorcycle endorsement on his or her operator’s or chauffeur’s license.” (MCL 257.312a(1))
  • Before a person “who is less than 18 years of age” can be issued “an original motorcycle endorsement on an operator’s license,” i.e., driver’s license, the person must first “pass a motorcycle safety course” approved by the Secretary of State. (MCL 257.312b(1))
  • According to the Michigan motorcycle laws for minors, before a person can successfully apply for a motorcycle endorsement, he or she “shall first qualify for an operator’s license.” (MCL 257.310(1))
  • An operator’s license will be issued to a person who is 17 years of age or less “only upon the issuance of a graduated driver license.” (MCL 257.310e(1))

According to the Michigan motorcycle laws for minors, here is more information about how a teenager may be able to obtain a motorcycle temporary instruction permit:

  • A 16- or 17-year-old “who is enrolled in or has successfully completed an approved motorcycle safety course” may be issued “a motorcycle temporary instruction permit that entitles the applicant, while carrying the permit, to operate a motorcycle on the public streets and highways for a period of 180 days” under certain, limited circumstances. (MCL 257.306(5))
  • The teenager must operate the motorcycle “under the constant visual supervision of a licensed motorcycle operator who is at least 18 years of age.”
  • The teenager shall not operate the motorcycle at night.
  • According to the Michigan motorcycle laws for minors, the teenager shall not operate the motorcycle with a passenger. (MCL 257.306(5)(a) through (c))

Visit the Michigan Secretary of State website to learn more about motorcycle endorsements.

Can a minor ride on a motorcycle in Michigan?

Michigan law does not specifically address whether minors can operate or ride as a passenger on a motorcycle. However, under certain circumstances, minors who have a driver’s license may obtain a motorcycle endorsement. Additionally, a minor may also be eligible for a motorcycle temporary instruction permit.

What is the motorcycle helmet law for minors?

A person younger than 21 years of age who is “operating or riding on a motorcycle shall wear a crash helmet on his or her head.” (MCL 257.658(4) and (5)) The crash helmet must be approved by the Michigan State Police. (MCL 257.658(6))

Anyone operating a moped on a Michigan road who is younger than 19 years of age must wear a crash helmet on his or her head. (MCL 257.658(4))

Due to Michigan’s senseless motorcycle helmet law, motorcycle operators and passengers who are at least 21 years of age may ride without helmets if the operator has: (1) had his or her motorcycle endorsement for at least two years, (2) has passed a motorcycle safety course, and (3) has obtained the required first-party medical benefits insurance coverage. (MCL 257.658(5))

Was your minor injured in a motorcycle accident? Call the attorneys at Michigan Auto Law now!

If your minor was injured in a motorcycle accident in Michigan and you have questions about the law or a lawsuit call now at (888) 857-9250 for a free consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. There is no cost or obligation. You can also visit our contact page or use the chat feature on our website.

Michigan Auto Law is Michigan’s largest and most successful law firm that specializes exclusively in helping people who have been injured in auto accidents.

Our secret? Our attorneys deliberately handle fewer cases than other personal injury law firms.  This allows us to focus more time and attention on our cases.

Unlike other law firms, our attorneys are never too busy to promptly return phone calls and answer questions. 

We have more than 2,000 5-Star reviews that reflect this care and attention to detail.

More importantly, this client-focused approach leads to better and faster settlements for our clients. Michigan Auto Law has recovered more million-dollar settlements and trial verdicts for motor vehicle accidents than any other lawyer or law firm in Michigan. We’ve also recovered the highest ever reported truck accident and car accident settlement in the state.

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Michigan Motorcycle Laws For Minors: What You Need To Know

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