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If you plan on learning to ride a motorcycle, or if you are a new Virginia resident that already has one, you should be aware of the Virginia motorcycle laws.

You should also know what to do in case of an accident while you’re riding. This guide is a quick reference for motorcycle operators and passengers.

Helmets and Licensing

Virginia residents must pass written and skills tests to receive a motorcycle classification on their driver’s license.

You can find more information about the test and the Virginia Motorcycle Operator guide on the Virginia DMV website.

You must register your motorcycle with the DMV and have valid insurance. You must also have a securely fixed license plate.

The Virginia motorcycle helmet law says that all riders must wear a helmet that meets certain minimum requirements. Riders must also wear eye protection or have a windshield. 

Required Equipment

VA motorcycle laws do not have a minimum age limit for passengers, but all passengers must use footrests/pegs, have their own seat, and wear helmets and eye protection.

Motorcycles need headlights, horns, and rearview mirrors unless they are designed for trail riding and operated during daylight hours. The required lights are:

  • At least one headlight visible from 200 feet,
  • A tail light visible from 500 feet,
  • A working brake light, and
  • A license plate light visible from 50 feet.

Motorcycles must have brakes on both the front and rear wheels and mufflers. Your bike must pass an annual safety inspection.

Traffic Laws

Some traffic signals have sensors that detect when a motorist is waiting at the light. However, motorcycles, because of their small size, sometimes fail to trigger the sensor.

When this happens, VA law permits motorcyclists to pass through the light provided they come to a full stop, check all directions, and wait at least two full minutes.

If the light is non-responsive, the motorcyclist must wait for at least two full cycles before proceeding. 

Some people wonder, is lane splitting legal in Virginia? Lane splitting means riding a motorcycle between two lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic that is going in the same direction.

It is a way for motorcyclists to bypass congestion. While there is currently proposed legislation to allow lane splitting, it is not legal in Virginia.

This is distinct from lane sharing, which refers to the practice of motorcyclists riding side-by-side or abreast in the same lane; lane sharing is legal in Virginia. 

Motorcyclists may also ride in HOV lanes and on all public roadways and use facilities built with public funds, such as parking garages.

You can find more detailed information about VA motorcycle laws in the Virginia Code.

I Was in a Motorcycle Accident—Now What?

If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. 

If you weren’t seriously injured, you could pursue the claim yourself with the other party’s insurance company. 

  • We advise you not to provide a recorded statement to the insurance company.
  • You should know that the first offer will most likely be a lowball offer. 
  • If you accept it, you give up your right to recover any other money from them. 
  • The insurance company will try to pay you the least amount possible. 

However, if you received medical attention for your injuries or are concerned about being taken advantage of by the insurance company, you should speak to a VA motorcycle accident attorney

  • River Run Law will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf for a favorable settlement. 
  • If we are unable to settle the case favorably, we would discuss your options with you and file a lawsuit if that makes sense for your situation. 
  • Contact us today to schedule a free case analysis. 
  • We do not charge any legal fees unless your attorney recovers a settlement or wins a lawsuit on your behalf.
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Brooke Alexander

Brooke graduated from the University of Richmond School of Law after receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Brooke worked for five years in private practice with a law firm specializing in insurance defense litigation before becoming the trial litigator for Allstate Insurance Company in the metro Richmond area.

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