North Carolina Motorcycle Laws 2024 Explained

Motorcycles are popular throughout the United States. However, if you plan to ride a motorcycle, you must understand North Carolina motorcycle laws and meet all legal requirements to ensure you do not face legal penalties. Taking time to understand these laws can serve you well, both in helping you obtain a motorcycle license and in staying safer on the road. It’s also vital for riders to know what to do after motorcycle accidents happen.

Important State Motorcycle Laws

In the state, motorcycles are legally considered motor vehicles and are subject to almost all the same laws and regulations as passenger vehicles. There are, however, special rules that apply when it comes to securing a motorcycle endorsement for a driver’s license and operating a motorcycle safely. Additionally, motorcyclists must ensure their bikes are street-legal, meaning:

  • The motorcycle has at least one headlight but no more than two.
  • The motorcycle has a functional horn.
  • The motorcycle’s exhaust system complies with all state vehicle emissions standards.
  • The motorcycle has a functional hand or foot-operated braking system.
  • The motorcycle’s rear taillights are clearly visible from at least 500 feet.
  • The motorcycle has a rearview mirror, providing a clear view for at least 200 feet.
  • The motorcycle has functional turn signals.

In addition to ensuring the motorcycle is street legal, all riders in the state are required to wear appropriate helmets that comply with federal safety standards. High-quality and compliant full-face mask helmets offer the highest levels of protection. Riding without an appropriate helmet can lead to a traffic ticket.

Riders Need Motorcycle Endorsement on Their Driver’s Licenses

Motorcyclists in the state are not required to have specific motorcycle licenses but are instead required to obtain motorcycle endorsements that effectively attach to their licenses. This will require completing various tests through the state Department of Transportation. They must also have appropriate insurance coverage, and they must register their motorcycle just as they would any other vehicle.

What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident

If you meet all the requirements to ride a motorcycle legally and use care and caution on the road, you can limit your risk of causing an accident. However, you must still know what to do if someone else causes an accident with you. North Carolina resolves all vehicle accident cases using the fault rule. This means that whoever is at fault for causing an accident absorbs liability for the resulting damages.

An experienced attorney can help you gather the evidence you may need to prove fault for your recent accident. Once fault is established, you can proceed with claiming compensation for your damages through an auto insurance claim and/or personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. Every driver is required to have insurance that meets minimum coverage requirements, but insurance alone may not cover all of your damages.

Christina Rivenbark & Associates can help you navigate the aftermath of a motorcycle accident with confidence. From helping you prove fault for an accident to determining the full scope of damages that you can claim from the at-fault driver, trust our team to provide guidance and support through all stages of your recovery process until you secure the compensation that you need to fully recover from the accident.


Q: Is Lane Splitting Legal?

A: Lane splitting is not explicitly considered illegal in North Carolina. However, just because the law does not specifically state the practice is illegal does not mean that the practice is endorsed. Lane splitting is potentially dangerous in many situations, but it can also provide a motorcyclist with a means of avoiding potentially dangerous situations. Lane splitting should only be performed at safe speeds with the utmost caution, even for experienced riders.

Q: Do You Need a Motorcycle License?

A: You do need a motorcycle endorsement in addition to a driver’s license in the state. The North Carolina Department of Transportation requires a rider to have a full regular, commercial, or provisional driver’s license. They must also pass a motorcycle knowledge test, a vision test, a road signal test, and a practical motorcycle skills test. Riders must ensure their bikes are street-legal and wear appropriate helmets at all times.

Q: Who Is at Fault for a Motorcycle Accident?

A: Proving fault for a motorcycle accident will be essential if you intend to claim compensation from any other party after you have been injured in such an accident. Proving fault for any vehicle accident generally requires gathering various forms of evidence, including digital and physical evidence, along with witness testimony from anyone who saw the accident happen.

Q: What Insurance Is Required for a Motorcycle?

A: The insurance required for a motorcycle in North Carolina is the same as is required for all other vehicles. At a minimum, an auto insurance policy must include at least $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for a single person, at least $60,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for more than one person injured in a single accident, and at least $25,000 to cover property damage liability.

Q: Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Motorcycle Accident?

A: Yes, you should hire a lawyer after a motorcycle accident in the state. It can greatly improve your chances of succeeding with the recovery efforts you attempt. Your recovery may require filing an auto insurance claim against the at-fault driver, followed by a personal injury claim if their insurance will not fully cover your damages. You are more likely to succeed with these efforts and more likely to maximize your compensation with an attorney’s help.

The right attorney can be an invaluable asset if you or a loved one is injured in a motorcycle accident. Additionally, you will need legal representation if you are issued a traffic ticket while riding your motorcycle or arrested for any misconduct on the road. Christina Rivenbark & Associates can help in either situation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team to learn more about the legal services we offer in North Carolina.

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