Motorcycle laws vary widely across the United States, and each state sets its own requirements and restrictions for things like helmets, licenses, and passengers. If you’re going to ride a motorcycle in Texas, it’s best to know the motorcycle laws to stay safe and avoid penalties.
Helmet Laws in Texas
Motorcycle riders and passengers under the age of 21 must always wear a helmet in Texas. Those over 21 must also generally wear a helmet, but there are two ways to gain exemption from the requirement:
- If you’ve passed a state-recognized motorcycle safety course, you don’t have to wear a helmet.
- If you have health insurance coverage that would cover you in the event of an accident, you don’t have to wear a helmet.
Other Required Protective Gear
Aside from a helmet, Texas does not require any other protective gear, such as boots, gloves, or protectors.
Texas requires operators of motorcycles with engine displacements over 50cc to obtain a Class M driver’s license. You may obtain a license if you are at least 16 years old and must pass a written and practical exam. However, you may skip the exams if you’re 18 or older, already have a class A, B, or C license, and pass a state-recognized motorcycle safety course.
Texas requires anyone riding a motorcycle on public roads to carry insurance that covers their liability for injury caused to others. The state requires the following minimum coverage:
- $30,000 in bodily injury per person
- $60,000 in total bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 in property damage per accident
In Texas, you can only carry a passenger if your motorcycle has specific passenger equipment, including a fixed seat (pillion), footrests, and handholds.
Motorcycle passengers must be at least five years old. If they are under eight years old or under 4’9″ in height, they must use a special child motorcycle seat.
Passengers have the same helmet requirements as operators.
For a motorcycle to be street legal in Texas, it must have the following functioning equipment:
- Tail light
- Brake light
- Exhaust system
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
- At least one mirror
- License plate light
- Rear red deflector
Additionally, handlebars may not be installed higher than 15 inches above the seat, and you must use a daytime headlight if your motorcycle was manufactured in 1975 or later.
Texas requires all motorcycles to receive an annual inspection at an official inspection station. You must then place the certificate near your license plate. This costs $7.50 as of 2023 but may be subject to change.
Texas generally treats motorcycles the same as any other motor vehicle, so it comes with the same legal restrictions as parking a car. You may not park on the sidewalk or in a fire lane and may only park in a handicapped spot with appropriate authorization.
Carpool Lane Use
Motorcycles in Texas may use the carpool lane even if they have only one rider.
Lane-splitting is illegal in Texas. You must ride in a single lane and may not ride in between stopped or moving cars.
Earbud and Speaker Laws
Texas does not prohibit any kind of listening devices while riding a motorcycle. You may use earbuds, headphones, and helmet speakers, as well as earplugs.
Texas has no laws limiting motorcycle muffler decibels or similar restrictions on noise or exhaust.
Registration and Taxes
If you live in Texas, you must register your motorcycle with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and install a Texas license plate and registration sticker. Here’s what you’ll need to register your motorcycle:
- The title to the motorcycle
- Proof of liability insurance
- Texas inspection certificate
- $30 fee payment
- Payment of various other fees depending on the county and circumstances
Additionally, if you purchase a motorcycle in Texas, you must pay the motor vehicle sales tax of 6.25%.