Motorcycles present people with a convenient way to get around. They allow folks to move through traffic faster, and it’s easier to find suitable parking spots for them. Before getting out and purchasing a two-wheeler of your own, though, you should take the time to learn about Massachusetts motorcycle laws.
Reading up on those laws will make it easier for you to determine if becoming a motorcycle rider will suit you. While going through them, you will also find out how easy or difficult the application process can be if you want to be a rider.
There’s no denying the perks of having your own motorcycle in Massachusetts. If you’re interested in roaming the roads on the back of your own two-wheeler, take this opportunity to learn about the laws related to them. Doing so will prepare you adequately for the journeys ahead.
Choosing the Right Type of Massachusetts Class M Driver’s License
To get things started, let’s talk about getting your Massachusetts motorcycle driver’s license. That item is otherwise known as a Class M driver’s license in Massachusetts.
You can choose between either a standard driver's license or a REAL ID when you first apply. Either one works if you only want to use your motorcycle inside the state.
Do note, though, that REAL IDs have the advantage of being useful if you want to board a plane or enter a federal building. A REAL ID also works as a form of identification for federal purposes. You cannot use a standard driver’s license in those areas.
The only advantage to getting a standard license is that it can be processed online whereas REAL IDs cannot. If you’re willing to deal with that minor inconvenience, though, it’s clear which type of driver’s license you should seek out.
How to Get a Class M Permit in Massachusetts
Before you can get your hands on a Class M driver’s license, you will need to go through the process of obtaining a permit. We’re specifically referring to a Class M permit. Basically, the Class M permit is your learner’s permit.
The Class M Permit Qualifications
Anyone over the age of sixteen can apply for a Class M permit. Those who are under eighteen years old, though, must secure written consent before they can proceed. A parent can provide the written consent. Also, a legal guardian, a boarding school headmaster, or the Department of Children and Families can provide written consent according to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
If you’re already qualified to receive a permit, you can go online to start the application process. Go to the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) website and set up an appointment at a nearby Service Center. You will need to provide your application and identification documents during that visit.
Note that only Massachusetts residents who don’t have any outstanding obligations to the state are eligible for a Class M permit. Furthermore, you will also need to meet medical standards and possess no other driver’s license or permit from another state.
The Learner’s Permit Exam
After determining that you’re qualified for a driver’s license and you’ve been verified by the state, you can then try your hand at passing the learner’s permit exam.
The exam consists of 25 questions, and they cover all kinds of topics. They will test your knowledge about Massachusetts motorcycle laws, especially the ones that pertain to road safety. Read up on how to share the road safely with pedestrians and other motorists if you want to pass the exam.
You must answer at least 18 of the 25 questions provided to pass the exam. The exam is online, but you can request a paper or oral exam. To be approved for an oral exam, you must prove that a disability prevents you from taking the exam in the other ways offered.
Upon passing the exam, the Class M permit is yours.
Applying for a Class M Driver’s License
The next step involves applying for a Class M driver’s license. The requirements for doing so will vary depending on your age.
Aspiring motorcycle riders under the age of eighteen need to pass the Massachusetts Rider Education Program Basic Rider Course and meet the Junior Operator License requirements before their application can move forward.
With those prerequisites handled, you can head to the local RMV office, bring the Class M permit, and pay the $50 motorcycle license fee. After that, prepare to take the road test.
Meanwhile, prospective riders over eighteen only need their Class M permit and the other required documents to move the process forward. They need to visit their local RMV office, submit the required documents, pay the fee, and get ready for the road test as well.
Riders over eighteen can also opt to complete an approved safety course from the Motorcycle Rider Education Program if they want to bypass the test.
The Road Test
The last part of the Class M driver’s license application process is the road test. Before you can take it, you must first get it scheduled. Call the RMV Telephone Center to reserve a timeslot for your road test.
On the day of your road test, you must bring your Class M permit along with the required safety gear for motorcycle riding. Of course, you will need a motorcycle too, and it must be registered, insured, properly inspected, and outfitted with the right equipment before you can use it.
Riders will have two initial cracks at passing the road test. If they fail to pass the road test both times, they will need to complete the Motorcycle Rider Education Program before trying the examination again.
It is worth noting that your Class M permit will only be valid for up to two years. If you cannot pass the road test before the two years are up, you will have to reapply for a Class M permit before being granted another chance at passing the exam.
After passing the road test, you will finally get the Class M driver’s license you’ve been working so hard for!
Equipment Requirements According to Massachusetts Motorcycle Laws
Now that you have your Class M driver’s license, you can start riding around town to your heart’s content, assuming your motorcycle meets road safety standards. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has outlined those safety standards so let’s go over them below.
The proper light configuration is important if you don’t want to run into any trouble using your motorcycle. Up front, you should have a white headlight that points forward.
Riders are also required to use their headlights during certain times of the day. Headlights must remain activated 30 minutes after sunset and up to 30 minutes before sunrise, per the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Motorcycle Manual.
Three types of lights should be present at the back of the motorcycle. You must have one red tail light, a stoplight, and another white light. The purpose of the white light is to keep the license plate visible.
You must properly secure the seat on your motorcycle at all times. The foot pegs must also be aligned to grant you proper support.
If you want to bring a passenger along, they must have their own seat. They should also pair it with corresponding foot pegs.
Other Pieces of Equipment
Additional pieces of motorcycle equipment, including the brakes, fenders, handlebars, horn, mufflers, and rearview mirrors, need to be functional. The handlebars should also be properly positioned, meaning they cannot be higher than the rider’s shoulders when they occupy the motorcycle’s seat.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Massachusetts
Motorcycle helmets save lives. Even in a low-speed accident where a rider tumbles instead of crashes on to the road, a helmet can make a huge difference. Helmets prevent severe wounds, brain injuries, and in extreme cases, possibly even death.
Like many states in the country, Massachusetts requires all motorcycle riders to wear motorcycle helmets. Any passengers that tag along should wear a helmet as well.
You shouldn’t use just any helmet, though. Motorcycle drivers and passengers alike must use helmets approved by the Department of Transportation.
Although it isn’t a law, riders should also use helmets that offer facial protection. If not that, then use goggles so your vision will not be affected while you are travelling on Massachusetts roads.
Massachusetts Motorcycle Laws Related to Pedestrians
Many people enjoy using motorcycles because of how adept they are at navigating crowded roads. Keep in mind, though, that you need to worry about more than other vehicles while using a motorcycle. You have to be mindful of pedestrians as well.
Massachusetts has enacted specific laws that will keep the roads safe for both pedestrians and motorcycle riders.
First, motorcycle riders must never let their vehicle enter the crosswalk while pedestrians are using the crosswalk. The crosswalk is there for the pedestrians, so you must give them space to safely cross the road.
Motorcycle riders are also required to yield to pedestrians in different situations. If the traffic light is yellow, you should yield to any pedestrians nearby.
One more law to remember is related to pedestrians and other vehicles. If you see another vehicle that has either stopped or is slowing down to let a pedestrian cross, you should follow suit. Remember that rule, or you could run into trouble the next time you’re out on the road.
Parking Laws in Massachusetts
Parking is more convenient if you have a motorcycle. However, that doesn’t mean you can leave your two-wheeler everywhere. You must abide by the parking laws in the state to steer clear of trouble.
In most areas, they highlight parking spaces by white lines. You must keep your motorcycle within those white lines to avoid any violations.
Whenever you find yourself in a residential or business district, you must also park your motorcycle in a certain way. More specifically, park within 12 inches of the curb. Notably, you don’t need to abide by that directive if they permit angled parking.
There are also specific places where parking is not allowed. Those places include areas within 20 feet of an intersection, areas within 10 feet of a fire lane or fire hydrant, bus stops, and numerous other spots. Don’t make the mistake of parking your vehicle in one of those spots because you might have to deal with a hefty fine if a police officer spots you.
OUI Violations in Massachusetts
Drunk driving is dangerous. Just do not do it! The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is strict when it comes to this particular subject.
Note that in Massachusetts, any police officer who believes you may be guilty of an OUI (operating under the influence) violation can ask you to submit to a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test as well as a field sobriety test. Refusing to take those tests will lead to the police officer immediately taking away your driver’s license.
In Massachusetts, the legal threshold for blood alcohol content among adults is 0.08 percent. If you register a mark higher than that upon performing the test, you will be charged with Operating under the Influence.
The limit is lower for people under the age of twenty-one. Any person under the age of twenty-one who registers a blood alcohol content level over 0.02 percent may face an OUI charge.
The penalties for committing OUI violations are also quite harsh.
First-time offenders are potentially staring at a fine no lower than $500 and no higher than $5000. They may also receive a maximum prison sentence of thirty months. On top of that, they will lose their driver’s license for one year.
Subsequent offenses will carry heftier fees as well as longer suspension periods and prison sentences.