Laws for Riding a Motorcycle in Virginia
In Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers’ new book What You Need to Know About Motorcycle Accidents in Virginia, the attorneys look at some of the laws governing motorcycling in the Commonwealth.
Laws on issue such as helmets vary across the country and not all motorcyclists are aware of the current law in Virginia.
The Commonwealth is a universal helmet state, meaning all riders and passengers must wear helmets. Currently, 19 states as well as the District of Columbia have laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear a helmet, known as universal helmet laws. Laws requiring only some motorcyclists to wear a helmet are in place in 28 states while there is motorcycle helmet use law in three states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire).
In the past federal regulations prompted the widespread use of motorcycle helmets. However in1976, states successfully lobbied Congress to stop the Department of Transportation from assessing financial penalties on states without helmet laws.
As well as wearing a helmet, the operator of a motorcycle must wear a face shield, safety goggles or have a motorcycle that’s equipped with safety glass or a windshield, while operating a motorcycle.
There are also rules about passengers on motorcycles. A second person may not ride on a motorcycle unless the motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person.
Another little known rule is the fact a motorcyclist may proceed through an unresponsive red light. Virginia law states if a driver of a motorcycle or moped or a cyclist approaches an intersection that is controlled by a traffic light, the driver or rider may proceed through the intersection on a consistent red light only if the driver or rider comes to a full and complete stop at the intersection for two complete cycles of the traffic light or for two minutes, whichever is shorter, exercises due care, treats the traffic control device as a stop sign, determines it’s safe to proceed, and “yields the right of way to the driver of any vehicle approaching on such other highway from either direction.”
Anyone who operates a motorcycle must have a valid Virginia Driver’s License with a Class M designation or a motorcycle license.
While cars are not allowed to lane split by law, motorcyclists are permitted to ride two abreast in a single lane.
For more information about motorcycle accidents in Virginia, see our motorcycle accident FAQs. If you have been hurt on a motorcycle due to the fault of another driver, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077.