Motorcycle Licensing Requirements

Ready to take the plunge and fulfill a lifelong dream by purchasing a motorcycle? Maybe you already have your motorcycle on hand and are ready to finally ride. Perhaps you’re looking to obtain your license before you start shopping. 

Whatever the case may be, you can use this resource as your go-to guide for Maryland motorcycle licensing requirements. 

Can I Operate a Motorcycle with a Standard Driver’s License?

Can I Operate a Motorcycle with a Standard Driver’s License?

Unfortunately, you can’t drive a motorcycle based on a current Class C Maryland driver’s license alone. To operate a motorcycle legally, you’ll also need a Class M endorsement

Driving a motorcycle without a proper motorcycle license could result in penalties such as: 

  • Suspended driver’s license
  • Points added to your driving record
  • Steep fines
  • Confiscation of your motorcycle

Interestingly, the licensing process is not a one-size-fits-all scenario in the state of Maryland. The requirements for your Class M license will depend on your age, previous experience, and any existing licenses that you may hold.

There are three main “tracks” that you can use to obtain a Class M license. We’ll explore each of these options in detail below.

Complete a Safety Course 

If you are less than 18 years old or a new rider, you must take this step. If you are over the age of 18 or you have previous experience as a licensed motorcycle operator, you can skip the safety course in favor of other options if that’s what you prefer to do. 

The official name of the course you’ll need to take is “The Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program’s Basic Rider Course.”

It’s recommended for applicants to take this course if they are inexperienced in motorcycle safety and would like to learn more. 

As an added benefit, successful completion of this safety course allows a new rider to skip the following steps:

  • Obtaining a learner’s permit
  • Taking the knowledge test
  • Taking the skills test

If you are older than 18 and have experience riding, all you need is proof of your completed certification and you’ll be eligible for a Class M endorsement on your license. 

Of course, the class does take some time. When everything is said and done, you will need to dedicate 30 hours to classroom instruction and 6 hours to on-the-bike training. 

If you are younger than 18 or you are an inexperienced writer, you’ll also need to take a knowledge test and apply for a learner’s permit before you can obtain your Class M license.

Opt for the Fast Track Program

Maryland is making a renewed effort to encourage motorcyclists to obtain the proper licenses. As part of this effort, the Motor Vehicle Administration allows certain riders to get on a fast track to obtain their motorcycle license.

To qualify, you must be able to pass both the knowledge and skills test. But unlike the traditional route, you can take these tests on the same day. In contrast, the traditional process has a 14-day waiting period in-between tests.

When you participate in the fast track program, you also can skip the learner’s permit process entirely.

If you fail your knowledge test on the first attempt, you will be given another chance. The moderators will even coach you on your missed answers before having you retake the exam.

As a final note on these requirements, you will need to provide your own bike to perform the skills test. This vehicle must be street legal, registered, insured, and tagged. It must also have fully operational lights and no equipment violations. 

You must also be able to transport the bike legally to the testing site. Since you will not yet have a license, you can’t drive the motorcycle to the location for your skills test. With this in mind, you may want to ride to the testing site with someone who has already obtained their license.

The Traditional Route to Obtain a Motorcycle License

If you want to opt for the traditional route to obtaining your license, follow these steps:

  • Take and pass a knowledge test at your nearest Motor Vehicle Administration office
  • Schedule a skills test at least 14 days later
  • Take and pass a skills test
  • Obtain a learner’s permit
  • Maintain a clean driving record for 18 months
  • Obtain a full Class M license

The process may be time-consuming, but it is straightforward. Using this method, you’ll be well prepared to safely operate a motorcycle.

What If I Don’t Have a Class C Driver’s License?

You do not need to have a Class C driver’s license prior to obtaining a Class M license. However, you will still need to pass a Class C knowledge test in addition to taking the other steps mentioned above before you can get your Class M license.

Can I Transfer My Out-of-State License? 

Fortunately, you can transfer your out-of-state license fairly easily. As long as your existing license has not expired, the only requirement to get a new license in the state of Maryland is that you pass a vision test. 

What If I Currently Have an Out-of-Country License?

If you obtained a motorcycle license in a different country, you must be able to meet a few requirements before you can pursue a license in the state of Maryland. 

First, you’ll need to pass a vision test. Next, you must pass the appropriate knowledge and skills tests. Finally, you may be required to take a three-hour drug and alcohol course. 

Stay Safe While Riding Your Motorcycle

Getting the appropriate license is a great first step for staying safe while you’re on your bike. But this activity is notoriously dangerous and may require a few more safeguards. It’s a good idea for riders to take these safety steps every time they ride:

  • Check the weather you set out to travel on your motorcycle
  • Stay home or use another vehicle for driving in the rain, wind, and snow
  • Wear safety gear, including a DOT-approved helmet
  • Maintain safe speeds
  • Obey all traffic rules

With these precautions, you’ll be able to enjoy your new hobby in a safe way. Keep in mind, though, that even the most cautious drivers will face hazards out on the open roads.
If you’re been injured in a motorcycle accident, the skilled legal team at William G. Kolodner, P.A. can help. Contact us today at (410) 837-2144, to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys. We’ll discuss the facts of your case and help you to understand the next steps you can take to pursue compensation.