What To Know
The state of Texas requires all would-be drivers of this kind of vehicles to earn a class M license before riding on the streets with their two wheels. You have to take a look at this process so you know what to expect when you go to the Department of Public Safety.
The good news is that there are a couple of ways you can go about getting certified to drive a motorcycle in Texas. You can also get your motor vehicle (Class C) and motorcycle (Class M) license for the first time at the same time, so that’s two birds with one stone. Keep in mind that you need your plain Texas drivers license on hand before you apply for this.
If you don’t have one and you only want to get a motorcycle license, you first need to take your driver’s education. Once you’ve done that part, here’s a list of all the things you need to do to get certified, the leather jacket not included.
With a Driver’s License
As we said, if you already have a normal driver’s license then getting a motorcycle one in Texas will not be too much work. An adult who possesses a Texas Class A, B, or C driver license has to take a DPS-approved Motorcycle Safety Course then, after getting the Certificate of Completion, bring it to the DPS along with $16 for the endorsement fee.
By doing this, you will get upgraded and they will add the M class to your license, giving you a class AM, BM, or CM depending on what you were already certified to drive. No additional testing or training will be required and you can get started right away.
If you already have a valid license proving your right to the unrestricted operation of a motorcycle from another U.S. State or Canadian province, then that endorsement will get moved to your Texas license after you apply for one following your move here. Similarly, there is no additional testing or training that you have to undergo before you can be on the roads on your bike.
Without a Driver’s License
If neither of those above applies to you, then you are in for a little more work but don’t worry because it is not as daunting a process as it seems. In Texas, the absolute minimum requirement that everybody has to fulfill when learning to drive or ride any motor vehicle is the 32-hour classroom portion of a standard DPS-certified driver’s ed course.
This is the same course you need for a learner’s permit for a car, and other additional things you will have to do depend on your age and what exactly you want to ride. Usually, the difference comes in the form of engine power.
If you just want to ride a moped (defined as a two-wheeled motorized cycle with an engine displacement under 50cc while at the same time unable to accelerate from stop to more than 30mph in one mile), you’re in luck! You only need to pass a motorcycle knowledge test which covers the additional rules and safety skills a motorcyclist should know compared to a driver.
If we’re talking about riding something more powerful, like a motorcycle, you need to have a motorcycle safety course certificate or pass the knowledge and practical operation tests that are administered by a State Trooper.
At the same time, minors have to comply with additional restrictions and regulations. If you are under 15, you’re forbidden to ride anything more powerful than 250cc. Similarly, you’re going to have the same limitations that apply to the learner’s permit for cars, requiring an unrestricted Class M license holder who is 21 years old or older to stay in sight of you at all times while riding.
If you are annoyed by the engine size restriction, it can be removed at 16 years of age and the riding buddy requirement either with a practical test or on your 18th birthday.
Additional Things To Consider
Keep in mind that if you already own the vehicle for which you want to get your license, you will also be required to provide proof of insurance and of registration for that exact vehicle when you apply for it. The same conditions will apply every time you have to show up in person at the DPS office to renew it.
If by any chance you let a driver’s license of any class expire, you have a short period of time in which you can do the necessary things to get re-certified before you are required to re-take the DPS-administered knowledge and operation tests all over again.
If you’re fairly new, it might be a good idea to take a motorcycle riding class, usually priced between $100-$250. They usually last two days with a riding test at the end of the period, and they provide a solid base for your career as a future motorcycle rider.
The state of Texas actually offers a fair amount of these kinds of classes. You can opt to take a Texas Parent Taught Drivers Ed (PTDE), which is a six-hour course with your legally certified parent, ending in a written exam. The cost for this is $75.
Another option would be the Texas Instructor Taught Drivers Ed, allowing you to get the permit very quickly and actually choose your behind-the-wheel provider. This class will usually cost you $100.
Adults also have the option to take the Texas Adult Drivers Ed, where they could be hitting the road in just six short hours. If you have this course you can also skip the DPS written test required for all other categories. This class is priced at $36.
Motorcycle training course completion
As you probably know, in Texas the law requires you to take a training course before you get a motorcycle license. This training course has to be approved by the Department of Public Safety. This means that regardless of your age, you have to take this course. It practically teaches you the basic things you need to know before you start riding a bike.
This course has to be taught at three levels. Of course, first of all, there is the beginner level which is taught to people who never got their motorcycle driver’s license, then there is an intermediate level and the advanced level, a class for people who have experience with riding a motorbike.
The training course for beginners is designed so that any person who has never ridden a motorcycle before should be able to learn everything they need to know about the legislation and about how to actually ride a bike. Everybody who wants to get a motorcycle driver’s license in Texas has to arrive at the completion of this training course.
This basic course will come with a lot of very useful knowledge. It will teach you how to ride a motorcycle, how to avoid dangerous situations and everything you need to do when you are in a situation that is unavoidable. It will also teach you everything you need to know about how to protect yourself using protective clothing.
The intermediate course if for people who, even though they have been riding a motorcycle for a long time, weren’t capable of getting their driver’s license yet. Of course, you have to be at least 18 years old.
The third one, for experienced riders, will teach you high-speed maneuvers, avoidance techniques and a lot of other skills that can make you ride safer. The certificate provider has the responsibility of substituting your certificate up to 3 years after the completion of the course, but you might have to pay for this, depending on the provider.
The actual motorbike driving test
After the completion of the basic course, everyone has to take a written test that will have several questions like what would you do in several imagined situations that, at some point in your motorbike driving experience, you will be in.
All the information you need to know to pass this written test is inside a special manual made by the DPS. In Texas, besides the written test, motorcycle drivers also have to pass a road test to get their license.
To pass this road test you have to show that you have acquired the following skills: you have to be able to stay in your lane, to use the turning signals, to be able to make your bike do what you need it to do, meaning that you have to know how to control it, and last but not least, it is very important to be able to observe potential problems and traffic cues.
Examiners will also score you depending on how well you handle situations that need you to take safety into account. For example, it is very important to know how to safely adapt your speed to be able to make some maneuvers, while choosing the right path and you also have to be able to complete normal stops as well as quick ones.
The helmet laws
In Texas, it is mandatory that motorbike drivers, as well as motorbike passengers, wear a helmet while riding, but the important thing you need to take into account is that the helmets need to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.
This means that protective helmets must have the following features: they should have a strong construction, they need a minimum weight of 3 pounds and the inner liner has to be at least 1 inch thick.
There is an exception when it comes to the obligation of riders to wear a helmet. It is for people who are over 21 years old and have special insurance that covers injuries on the head caused by not wearing a helmet while riding a motorbike.
You should know that you can only have a passenger on the bike if it is specially designed for this.
The vision test
The Texas law requires you to take an eye test before you apply for a motorcycle driving license. This vision test is compulsory for people who are doing this for the first time as well as for people who want to renew the one that they previously had.
The test can be taken at the DPS or, if you want, you can go to an optometrist to measure your eyesight and see if you pass all the requirements to be able to ride safely on the streets.
Without eyeglasses, you should see more than 20/70. If you are already wearing glasses or contact lenses, you should always pass the 20/70 limits. But do not worry, the optometrist will give you all the information you need to know what this means.
What happens if you live out of state?
Texas drivers who live outside Texas and want to get a license have to complete a motorbike safety course, but it should be one that is approved by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and they have to gather and send through mail some documents.
These include a course completion certificate, papers that prove that the person is a Texas citizen, a copy of the military ID for the ones in active duty that have an address that is not located in Texas and a completed driver license application that is out of state. They also have to send the fee that they require, but they do not accept cash payments.
Within 45 days after you have sent the papers, you should get your license through the mail. It is very important that you check what you have to do first on the DPS’s website so that you do not miss anything essential and have to wait for a longer period of time just because you didn’t send the correct documents.