Nothing quite beats the freedom of the open road. But before you get to enjoy that freedom yourself, there's one vital thing you need to do: get your motorcycle license. Even if you know you've got what it takes to operate your motorcycle safely, you'll need to prove it to the authorities before anything else. Driving without a license won't just land you in trouble with the law, it could get you into some serious grief with insurance companies if you have an accident while riding. Fortunately, getting a motorcycle license isn't the pain some people think it is. Providing you can work your way through a multiple-choice exam and pass a skills test, your license will be yours sooner than you know. If you're a Louisiana resident, here's everything you need to know about getting a motorcycle license in Louisiana.
If you want to ride a motorcycle with more than five-brake horsepower on public roads, you're going to need a license. In Louisiana, motorcycle licenses aren't issued as separate entities. Instead, a motorcycle or 'M' endorsement will be added to your existing driver's license or learner's permit. This will serve as proof that you're qualified to operate a motorcycle in addition to any other vehicles you're already licensed to operate. As such, you'll only be able to apply for a motorcycle license if you already hold a regular driver’s license, learner’s permit, or commercial driver’s license. To get an M endorsement added to your existing license, you'll need to pass a few tests, meet some eligibility requirements, and pay an application fee.
How to Get a Motorcycle Permit in Louisiana
How do you get a motorcycle permit in Louisiana? Move to another state. While most states issue permits as a way of letting you practice your motorcycle skills before applying for a license, Louisiana doesn't. If you want to hone your skills before applying for a license, your only option is to enroll in a rider safety class. Although this won't let you ride on public roads, it will at least give you the chance to get some hands-on experience. Enrolling in a motorcycle class is by no means mandatory. If you're confident of your riding abilities, you can apply for a license straight away. If, on the other hand, you're a novice rider who wants to get some experience under your belt, a course is highly recommended. As DMV.org notes, a Basic Rider course consists of 15.5 hours of both classroom instruction and practical training. The course will let you practice riding under trained supervision in a controlled environment. You can either bring your own motorcycle along to the class or ask for one to be provided (this will be at cost). If you bring your own motorcycle, you'll need to make sure its engine displacement doesn't exceed 550 cc.
Before you can apply for a motorcycle license in Louisiana, you'll need to make sure you meet a few eligibility requirements. As DMV.com notes, the current requirements are:
• You will need to already hold a regular driver’s license, learner’s permit, or commercial driver’s license.
• You must meet all the minimum requirements for obtaining a driver's permit or license, which, depending on age, may include taking driver’s ed and passing knowledge and skills tests for a passenger car or other class of vehicle.
• You must be a resident of Louisiana.
• You must be at least 15 years old.
• You must be prepared to pass a motorcycle knowledge test and a riding skills test at the OMV (or, as an alternative, you can take a safety class instead).
How to Apply For a License
Once you're ready to apply for your license, you'll need to arrange a visit to an OMV office to submit your application. If you're under the age of 18, you'll need to bring a parent or guardian along with you to sign your application. Regardless of your age, be sure to have the following documents ready:
• Your current driver's license
• A document to verify a name or address change if any of your personal information has changed since you obtained your driver's license
Once you've handed over your application, you'll need to get ready for a knowledge test and a skills test. If you've completed a rider safety course, you can skip this requirement - just be sure to have your completion certificate to hand.
If you want to skip the test part of your license application, you can. You'll simply need to complete a rider's course instead. If you'd rather stick to the tests, you'll need to sit and pass the following:
As Permit.bike notes, the written element of the test will assess your knowledge of driving rules. You'll be expected to display basic awareness of road signs and show that you understand the requirements of operating a motorcycle safely and lawfully. The test is based on information found in the Motorcycle Operator’s Manual provided by the OMV. Before the test, it's worth taking a practice run by taking the free practice tests offered by the DMV and OMV online.
On-Cycle Skills Test
The on-cycle skills test is designed to ensure you can operate a motorcycle safely on public roads. The test is short (expect it to be done and dusted in around 15 minutes) and relatively simple. Providing you know basic maneuvering techniques and can operate a motorcycle without putting either yourself or anyone else in danger, you shouldn't face too many difficulties. When you attend the test, be sure to bring a helmet along with safety gear such as long pants, a jacket, and gloves.
Louisiana Motorcycle License Fees
When you apply for your license, you'll need to pay a fee for both the motorcycle endorsement and a new driver's license card. The fees for 2021 are as follows:
• $12 for an M endorsement
• $12 handling fee for an M endorsement
• $20.25 for a new driver's license card
• $12 handling fee for a new driver's license card
It's also worth noting that some OMV offices may charge anything from $.50 to $6 in addition to the standard handling fees.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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