A motorcycle driver holding a helmet

Anyone who wishes to operate a motorcycle in Kentucky must first obtain a motorcycle operator’s license, according to the Kentucky State Police’s Kentucky Motorcycle Manual.

Motor bikes, mini-bikes, or any other small vehicles cannot be driven on streets or highways in Kentucky without first meeting the operating requirements for a motor vehicle, such as the registration plate. The only places people can legally use these types of vehicles without an operator’s license and safety equipment is on private property.

Kentucky also requires motorcyclists to use approved eye protection devices at all times while vehicles are in motion. Motorcycles must be equipped with rear-view mirrors.

Kentucky has a number of other laws and requirements that can create some confusion among people interested in riding motorcycles. Read below to find out more about Kentucky’s motorcycle laws.

What Are Kentucky Motorcycle Helmet Laws?

A person can operate a motorcycle without a helmet in Kentucky only if they are 21 years of age or older, and they have had a motorcycle license for at least one year. Passengers must also be 21 years of age or older in order to legally ride without a helmet.

All motorcyclists – operators and passengers – under 21 years of age are required to wear helmets. Helmets are recommended for all operators and passengers on motorcycles because they can help prevent serious head injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

If you happen to be involved in an accident, your failure to have worn a helmet could also negatively impact your potential injury claim. Insurance companies will frequently argue that they are not obligated to cover certain injuries stemming from lack of helmet protection. It’s important to have a lawyer with the Kentucky Courage necessary to fight for your rights in a situation like that.

Do You Need a Kentucky Motorcycle License?

In order to operate a motorcycle on any public roadway in Kentucky, a person must have a valid motor vehicle operator’s license with a valid motorcycle operator’s endorsement, a motorcycle license, or an instruction permit.

A person may be required to take the written test for the Motorcycle Rider Education Program at the local circuit clerk’s office to get an instruction permit even if they have completed an equivalency course.

You should obtain a motorcycle permit before taking any equivalency courses. A course can take the place of the road test, but you will still need to hold a motorcycle permit for the allotted time before you can use course certification to obtain a license.

How to Apply for a Kentucky Motorcycle Permit

To apply for a motorcycle permit, a person must be at least 18 years of age or hold a valid operator’s license.

Applicants for a motorcycle license permit who are under 18 years of age must have a parent or legal guardian willing to assume the responsibility imposed by Kentucky Revised Statute § 186.590, even if the parent or legal guardian has already signed a driver’s license application allowing the minor to drive a moped or automobile.

When an applicant does not have a living parent or legal guardian, the instruction permit must be signed by another party willing to assume responsibility for the applicant.

Applications must be filed in the person’s county of residence at the office of the circuit clerk, unless written permission is given by the circuit clerk to take the examination in another county, and the State Police agree to make arrangements for the examination.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in Kentucky?

Lane splitting refers to the practice of riding between lanes of stopped or slowed traffic. While motorcycles can comfortably travel in these areas on many roads, passing other vehicles without causing collisions or other problems, lane splitting is specifically prohibited in many states.

Kentucky has no state law specifically prohibiting lane splitting, but that does not mean that a police officer will never pull a motorcyclist over for doing so. If an officer believes a motorcyclist is operating their vehicle in an unsafe manner, they are legally permitted to issue a citation.

Required Equipment for Motorcycles in Kentucky

Kentucky makes it illegal to operate or ride on a motorcycle that does not have a seat or footrest permanently attached.

Other required equipment includes:

  • Rearview mirror
  • One headlight (high and low beams)
  • Taillight
  • Horn
  • Muffler and tailpipe
  • Front and rear brakes
  • Brake light
  • Good tires
  • Turn signals (if part of factory equipment)
  • Proof of liability insurance
  • Registration

Is It Safe to Consume Alcohol While Riding in Kentucky?

In the Kentucky Motorcycle Manual, the Kentucky State Police state that 40 to 45 percent of all motorcyclists killed in crashes have been shown to have been drinking alcohol before they were riding. Like many other states, Kentucky has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08 percent for motorcyclists who are 21 years of age or older. The limit is only 0.02 percent for minors.

In addition to concerns about alcohol and drug use, motorcyclists also need to be conscious of the dangerous surfaces on which they are driving, as motorcycles can be even more sensitive to road defects like potholes.

People should have their motorcycles regularly maintained to ensure that all mechanical equipment is in proper working order before they hit the road, as certain kinds of defects or failure to maintain equipment can lead to a variety of possible accidents.

Need Legal Advice After A Motorcycle Accident?

Did you sustain catastrophic injuries or was your loved one killed in a motorcycle accident in Kentucky? To have the best chance of recovering all of the compensation that you’re owed, be sure to contact the motorcycle accident lawyers at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer.

Our firm understands how complicated motorcycle crashes can be. We also know how to present the proper evidence that will prove another party’s negligence in a motorcycle accident. We can help you understand all your legal options as soon as you call us or contact us online for a free consultation.