Motorcycle laws vary from state to state, and keeping track of the differences can be confusing. Whether you’re moving to a new state or just riding through, it helps to know the law of the land and what you need to know about riding a motorcycle in each state. Motorcycle.com is here to help, with a look at each state’s laws, beginning with Alabama. (Information current as of August 2013.)
Alabama holds a rather unique position as the only state in the Union where anyone 16 and older is allowed to operate a motorcycle without a license.
Due to a loophole created by legislation from the ’90s, anyone with a regular driver’s license in Alabama can also ride a motorcycle in the state. No separate motorcycle test is required. The Alabama Department of Safety does offer Class M licenses and endorsements but there’s nothing in the state’s laws that actually says people need one to be allowed to ride.
Lawmakers tried to correct this legislative oversight earlier this year with a new bill, but the legislation failed to pass before the government was adjourned for the summer.
Whether you have a license or not, you do need to wear a helmet to ride in Alabama, regardless of age. To be street legal, motorcycles must be equipped with at least one mirror. If you ride a motorcycle with tall ape-hangers you better pull out the measuring tape; handlebars must be no more than 15 inches above the seat. Modulating headlights are allowed, but turn signals are not legally required.
As for insurance, Alabama is an at-fault state, meaning if you are involved in a motorcycle accident, the at-fault or negligent party or parties are held responsible for paying damages. Fault is determined by a number of factors such as vehicle speed, failure to signal turns or lane changes and driving under the influence.
Minimum liability limits are $25,000 for bodily injury to one person, $50,000 for injuries to two or more people and $25,000 for property damage. As an alternative to insurance, motorcycle owners can establish financial responsibility with a cash bond of no less than $50,000.
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