You’ve managed to buy and register your dream motorcycle. Congratulations! No more daydreaming about exploring Florida while riding on your motorcycle.
Nothing beats the exhilarating feeling of driving around the state, with the wind blowing all your stresses away. But wait, is driving without a motorcycle license allowed in Florida?
How to Get a Motorcycle License in Florida
Florida is popular with bikers, with more than 600,000 motorcycle registrations. But having your motorcycle registered is not enough to have you go cruising in the sunshine state. You need to get a motorcycle license to properly enjoy your ride.
If you already have an existing Florida Class E driver’s license, all you need to apply for is a motorcycle endorsement license. You only need to apply for this once because it doesn’t expire. If you don’t have a driver’s license yet, you need to apply for a motorcycle-only license that works like a regular driver’s license. For first-time applicants, here is a step-by-step walkthrough on how to get a motorcycle license in Florida.
Get a Florida Learner’s Permit
First, you must get a learner’s permit based on Florida law. You need to have it for a year without any traffic violations or convictions so you can be processed for a motorcycle-only license. If you are already a Class E driver’s license holder, you don’t need to get a learner’s permit anymore. Below is the list of requirements on how to obtain the permit.
- Applicant must be 16 years old and above
- Applicants below 18 years old must provide a parental consent form that is signed and notarized.
- Pass the Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education Course.
- Pass the hearing and vision test.
- Pass the 50-item, multiple-choice Class E Knowledge Exam with a score of at least 80%.
- Provide proof of identity, your Florida residence address, and your social security number.
Successful Completion of Basic Rider Course
Basic Rider Course or Basic Rider Course Updated is required for both motorcycle endorsement license and motorcycle-only license. These courses can be taken at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or any authorized Florida Rider Training Program provider or sponsor.
Depending on where you take the course, it may cost you from $99 to $300. Most program providers or sponsors use the updated version of the course, or the BRCu.
They are both 15-hour courses covering basic skills for new motorcycle riders. You will spend around one week completing the course. If you are from another state and already a motorcycle license holder, moving into Florida will still require you to complete this course if you haven’t done it yet in your previous state.
Handbook, insurance, practice motorcycle and helmet will be provided. If you choose to complete the course through a program provider, they will be the ones to contact and inform the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles about your course completion. Check the requirements and things to bring to your classes.
- Bring your own gloves and eye protection.
- Wear a jacket or a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and a strong pair of shoes covering up your ankles.
If you’re not able to complete the course successfully on your first try, you can take it again some other day. An additional 60 days will be given to you to pass the course without the need to pay the fees again.
You can get your license at the same time you finish the course successfully. The validity of this course’s certificate is one year, so you have to make sure to process your license during this period. Failure to do so will require you to retake the course.
Go to a Driver License or Tax Collector Office
After completing your Basic Rider Course (BRC), visit either of these offices to submit your documents and pay the required fees. They will then issue you your Class E driver’s license endorsement or the motorcycle-only license.
Bring a valid ID and a copy of your BRC completion certificate, just in case. Endorsement costs $7.00, with an additional $6.25 tax fee. Motorcycle-only license costs $48.00 plus a $6.25 tax fee.
Florida State Laws and Penalties
Operating a motorcycle without a proper motorcycle endorsement or license is a criminal offense in Florida, and is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. Under Florida law, a No Motorcycle Endorsement is punishable by 60-day jail time and a fine of $500.
The criminal case will start on the day you receive the citation from a police officer. A law enforcement officer will then take and submit a copy of the citation to the clerk of courts. The clerk’s office will enter the citation into the court system to create your criminal case number. A Notice of Hearing will be sent to you to appear in court for the formal reading of charges or arraignment.
After the arraignment, your case may still have several court hearings, which include status checks, plea conferences, and criminal case dispositions. You need to review all evidence presented against you before you make a plea offer and know how to proceed with the case. Offer may be to negotiate further, to go to trial or to plead guilty.
What to Do in Case You Get Caught
If you have been pulled over for a traffic violation or have been involved in an accident, the officer will ask to check your license. If you cannot provide one, it would be best to stay calm and call a motorcycle accident lawyer. Although you are really at fault for driving without a proper motorcycle license, your lawyer can help you get the criminal charges off your record, and can even help reduce the charges.
To avoid all the possible hassles of going through court trials and penalties, secure a proper motorcycle endorsement or motorcycle-only license before going on the road. It would also help to keep contact details of local traffic defense law offices or better yet, a motorcycle accident lawyer.
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