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Originally published on August 31, 2020.

While everyone knows you need a license to drive a car but not to ride a bicycle, the laws for vehicles that fall in-between, such as motorized bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles, aren’t as well-known.

Whether you’re a daily rider, a recreational rider, or are just thinking about picking up the hobby, it’s important to be aware that it is illegal to ride a motorcycle without an endorsement on your license in the state of Louisiana.

What is a Motorcycle Endorsement?

A motorcycle endorsement is a credential on your driver’s license that proves you have the legal right to operate a motorcycle in Louisiana.

It will appear as the letter “M” listed under “Endorsements” on your license.

Once obtained, your motorcycle endorsement will always be renewed at the same time that you renew your driver’s license.

To obtain a motorcycle endorsement on your license, you will need to make an appointment at your local OMV and complete the following:

  • Provide a valid driver’s license
  • Provide proof of residency
  • Provide proof of insurance (Note that you will need separate motorcycle insurance. Your auto insurance policy will not cover you in crashes on a motorcycle.)
  • Pass a vision test
  • Pass a knowledge test (Note that providing a certification of completion for the Department of Public Safety, Motorcycle Safety, Awareness and Operators Training Program will exempt you from this test as well as the skills test.)
  • Passing a skills test (Note that providing a certificate of completion for a state-approved motorcycle driving school course will exempt you from this test, but not the knowledge test.)
  • Pay any necessary fees or charges

What Happens if I Get Caught Riding a Motorcycle Without an Endorsement?

Having a driver’s license isn’t enough to also allow you to legally ride a motorcycle. You need a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license.

If you are pulled over and found to be riding without a valid endorsement, whether because you never obtained one or your motorcycle endorsement was suspended or revoked, you could face serious penalties – the same as you would for driving a car without a valid license:

  • Fine of up to $500
  • Jail time of up to 6 months

If it is a second offense, you will serve a minimum of seven days in jail.

It’s not worth the risk of riding without an endorsement – schedule an appointment at your local OMV for a motorcycle endorsement exam before taking your bike to the road.

Where Can I Practice Riding a Motorcycle Without an Endorsement in Louisiana?

Because Louisiana does not offer a motorcycle learner’s permit, you cannot ride a motorcycle anywhere on public roads before earning your motorcycle endorsement. However, there are a few places you can practice your riding skills without risking a ticket.

  1. Private property – You can practice on your own property or someone else’s private property with their permission.
  2. Rider programs – Many motorcycle dealerships, such as Harley-Davidson, offer rider training programs to help you learn how to ride a motorcycle. If you complete a state-approved Motorcycle Safety Course, you will even be able to waive the skills test portion of your motorcycle endorsement application.

Can I Get a Motorcycle License if I Don’t Have a Driver’s License?

Unlike some other states, Louisiana does not issue separate licenses to operate a motorcycle. Instead, a motorcycle endorsement is always added to the driver’s license. Thus, to legally drive a motorcycle, you will first need a Louisiana driver’s license.

We Get Help for Injured People After Motorcycle Accidents

Whether you were struck by another vehicle while on your motorcycle or injured by a motorcyclist riding without a valid endorsement, you are going to need help paying your bills while you recover. And it is very rare for the insurance company to give you what you need in compensation without a fight.

After an accident, contact the Louisiana motorcycle accident attorneys at Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers. We have experience with these types of cases, we know how to calculate how much money you will need to recover, and we don’t let insurance companies get away with lowball offers.

From our offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Denham Springs, Houma, and Shreveport, we can help injured riders just about anywhere in the state. And if you can’t come to us, we can come to you.

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