Most California road laws apply for both vehicles and motorcycles, but there are a few motorcycle-specific laws that could easily get you in trouble.

Since most of these laws can be complex, it is advisable to contact an LA Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for counsel if you or your loved one has been injured in an accident. Read on for the most important California motorcycle laws to be aware of.

Right of way

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) insists that the right-of-way rules in California promote traffic safety for drivers and motorcyclists. Statistics seem to jibe with this statement as nearly half of all motorcycle accidents in California are a result of right-of-way violations. Your lawyer can help you get a better grasp of the right of way while riding a motorcycle in California.

Speed limits

As regards speed, California’s limit is 65mph, albeit you can go at 70mph in posted areas. Posted limits vary based on location and road type.

Keep in mind that California has a basic speed law which prohibits motorists from driving beyond certain speed limits in certain weather and road conditions, notwithstanding the posted limit. If the road you are riding on is rough, it is raining, or there is a traffic jam, you could be arrested for speeding even if you are within the posted speed limit. Motorcyclists are particularly urged to adhere to this law as motorcycles cannot handle bad road and weather conditions as well as automobiles.

Lane splitting

Just recently, California lawmakers passed a bill that allows motorcyclists to lane-split as long as they do it in a safe and prudent manner. Lane-splitting is the practice of driving a motorcycle between two rows of moving or stopped traffic.

Limitations on the practice include not driving beyond certain speed limits and completely not doing it in certain situations.

Being a new law, however, the guidelines for this practice aren’t complete, and the safety standard remains “safe and prudent” driving.

Rider safety equipment

For your safety and that of your passengers, California law requires you to adhere to the following rules:

  • Both you and your passenger should wear helmets
  • You should have a motorcycle license with you while on the road
  • Any motorcycle manufactured after 1978 should have daytime headlights

Turn signals

Just like automobiles, motorcycles on California roads are required to have working front and rear turn signals. Exempt are motorcycles manufactured and first registered before 1973.

Handle-bar height

In California, you are not allowed to drive a motorcycle whose handlebars are more than six inches above your shoulders when you’re seated.

Motorcycle exhaust systems

An anti-tampering act enacted by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 2010 gives police officers the authority to give tickets to motorcyclists who have tampered with their exhaust systems. The law took effect in 2013 and only applies to motorcycles and exhaust systems built starting 2013.


These are some of the laws that you need to keep in mind if you are planning to ride a motorcycle in California. Consult your lawyer for more details to avoid getting in trouble with the police for laws you didn’t know existed in the first place.