How to Get a Motorcycle License in Indiana

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Nothing beats the freedom of the open road. But before you get to enjoy that freedom, there are a few things you need to do. Number one – get your motorcycle license. Without this, you’re not just breaking the law as you whizz along the highway, you’re inviting a world of trouble if you ever have an accident and need to file an insurance claim. Whether you’re a long time resident of Indiana looking to get your first license or a newcomer hoping to convert their existing license, here’s what you need to know about getting an Indiana motorcycle licence.

New Indiana Residents

If you’re an old hand at riding but a newcomer to Indiana, there are a few things you’ll need to do before you can start enjoying its roads. Firstly, you’ll need to have a base driver’s license from Indiana. As per in.gov, you can then add a motorcycle endorsement to it after completing a knowledge test (yep, even if you’ve already gone through the rigmarole in another state, you’re going to have to do it again here).

Getting a Permit

Are you a newcomer to the world of motorcycle riding? Then the first step is to get a motorcycle leaner’s permit. Note that you’ll already need to hold either an operator, chauffeur, or public passenger license. Previously, Indiana offered a motorcycle-only license that meant you didn’t have to hold a standard driver’s license if you didn’t want to. Unfortunately, those days are gone. If you’re not prepared to learn to drive a car first, you can kiss goodbye to getting your motorcycle endorsement.

To get your permit, you’ll need to pay a visit to your local BMV licensing office. Once you arrive, be prepared to provide:

  • Your driver’s license
  • Proof of identity
  • Your SSN
  • Proof of your citizenship or legal status in the US
  • Two documents proving residence in Indiana

As the BMV can be quite picky about the type of documents they’ll accept, it’s worth checking the list of approved documents in the first instance. The list can be found here. If you’re under the age of 18, you’ll also need to ensure that you get your application signed by your parent or guardian in the first instance. Once you’ve provided all the necessary, you’ll need to sit both a vision and knowledge test. As the test can take around an hour to complete, make sure you turn up at the office well in advance of closing time. After you’ve sat the tests and filed the paperwork, expect to hand over $9 for the BMV to process your application and issue your permit.

What You Can and Can’t Do With a Permit

Your permit isn’t the ticket to ride you might think it is. While it does give you the freedom to use your motorcycle on the road, that freedom comes with certain limits. As permit.bike outlines, until you graduate to a full license, don’t expect to be able to…

  • Ride without a helmet
  • Use the motorcycle after dark
  • Carry any passengers other than a licensed supervisor
  • Ride on public roads without first completing an ABATE course
  • It’s also worth bearing in mind that your permit is only valid for 1 year. If it expires before you get your license, you’ll need to start the whole process from scratch.

The Alternative to Getting a Permit

If you want to skip getting the permit, you can. You will, however, need to take a Motorcycle Operator Safety Education course at an approved center first. For people brand new to riding, the course can actually be a great way of improving your skills and confidence on a motorcycle. In some cases, it can even help wangle a better deal on insurance. Bear in mind you only have one year after completing the safety course to apply for your license. After this, the certificate of completion won’t be worth a dime. You’ll either need to take the course again or submit to a skills test.

The Final Step

Got your permit or passed your safety course? Confident in your abilities? Then it’s time to get your license. If you went the permit route rather than the safety course route, you’ll need to pass a skills test before earning your endorsement. Contact Ride Safe Indiana to book an appointment for the test. The test itself shouldn’t take more than around 10 – 15 minutes to complete, so don’t panic about having to block off a big chunk of your schedule. When you attend the appointment, be sure to bring along your permit, your motorcycle, proof of your motorcycle’s registration, and insurance details. Check with the provider what the testing fee will be beforehand as this varies depending on the vendor. The test is fairly basic, but if your nerves get the better of you, you can retake it up to three times on the same day. If you fail the third and final attempt, you’ll need to wait 2 months before taking it again. Once you pass your test (or if you’ve already completed your motorcycle safety test), contact Ride Safe Indiana to set up another appointment. This time, you’ll need to bring along:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of your SSN
  • Two proofs of residency
  • Either your learner’s permit and proof of passing the skills test OR your safety course certificate of completion

Once you’ve provided the necessary, you’ll need to sit and pass a vision test. Once that’s done, hand over your motorcycle endorsement fee (more on which coming up) and that’s it. You’ll be issued with a new driver’s license with your shiny new motorcycle endorsement added to it. As the endorsement is a complement to your existing license rather than a separate entity, you’ll need to renew it at the same time as renewing your driver’s license.

Fees

There’s a lot more to getting your motorcycle endorsement than just paying the fees, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of what they are. As per dmv.org, the fees are:

  • Anyone under 75 years old: $19 for a 6-year endorsement
  • Anyone between 75 to 84 years old: $19 for a 3-year endorsement

If you need to reapply for a lost or stolen license, you’ll need to pay $9. The same fee will also apply if you need to change any of the details on your current endorsement.

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