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Originally published May 11, 2020

With several months of warm, pleasant weather ahead of us in the Sooner State, there’s no better time to hit the open road on two wheels. But you can’t just head out to your local motorcycle dealership, buy a bike, and go for an open-air adventure. To legally ride a motorcycle in Oklahoma requires having a motorcycle license—or at least a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license.

Even relatively low-speed, underpowered motorcycles have significantly more torque than most passenger vehicles. That’s because their weight-to-engine power ratio is in a completely different class than the cars, trucks, and SUVs most drivers learned on. Because of those huge differences—as well as the challenges of things like balance, turning, manually shifting, and avoiding obstacles—legally riding a motorcycle requires proving to the state that you’re capable of doing so safely.

Motorcycle License Requirements Vary Depending on Who is Applying

Per the requirements established by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, there are three separate sets of requirements applicants must complete depending on their age and their driver’s license status:

Application Requirements for Licensed Drivers

If you already have a valid driver’s license, you need to get an “M” endorsement added to it to legally ride a motorcycle in Oklahoma. To obtain that endorsement, you must:

  • Present the required documentation at your local Department of Public Safety, which includes:
    • An acceptable form of identification, including a birth certificate, a valid U.S. passport, or a valid driver’s license.
    • Your Social Security number.
    • Documents that indicate a name change, if you’ve changed your name in the past.
    • Your Motorcycle Safety Foundation course completion card (if applicable), which waives the requirement to pass the skills and written tests.
    • Valid proof of motorcycle liability insurance, if you need to take the skills test.
  • Pass a written exam that covers important knowledge on motorcycle riding, including safety practices and laws.
  • Pass a vision test that shows your natural or corrected vision has sufficient acuity to safely ride.
  • After passing both the written exam and vision test, you can obtain a motorcycle learner’s permit, which allows you to ride while supervised by another licensed motorcyclist for a 30-day period.
  • After holding your motorcycle learner’s permit for 30 days, you must pass a skills exam that involves riding your motorcycle and completing various maneuvers in front of a test proctor.

Application Requirements for Motorcyclists 14-16 Years Old

Young motorcyclists who don’t have their driver’s licenses must complete the requirements listed above, as well as present evidence that they have completed a basic rider’s course that’s approved by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety. Applicants between 14 and 16 years old also must obtain learner’s permits for a 30-day period, during which time they must follow these restrictions:

  • Motorcycle piston displacements must not exceed 300 cubic centimeters.
  • Permit-holders may only ride between the hours of 4:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Protective headgear must be worn at all times.
  • Permit-holders may only ride while accompanied by and receiving instruction from a licensed motorcyclist at least 21 years old and who has visual contact with the applicant.
  • Permit-holders must avoid highways with minimum speed limits and never exceed speeds of 35 mph.

Application Requirements for Motorcyclists 16-17 Years Old Without a Standard Driver’s License

In addition to the requirements in both application processes listed above, applicants who are 16-17 years old must complete the following requirements to obtain motorcycle licenses:

  • Bring documentation showing enrollment or attendance requirements are met in a secondary or vocational technical school.
  • Have a parent or legal guardian present when applying for the license.

We’re Here to Help Injured Motorcyclists

Although motorcycles give riders a sense of freedom and exhilaration that many passenger vehicles can’t match, riding one is never something to take lightly. Safely riding a motorcycle requires knowledge, experience, and an abundance of caution. Because motorcyclists have no built-in safety features, motorcycles risk their lives every time they head out on their bikes, whether they’re just going down the road or on a cross-country trip.

Unfortunately, even the most safety-conscious motorcyclists face many risks when they ride, especially when other drivers fail to pay attention to them or look out for them. All motorcyclists, regardless of age or experience, face this risk, although less experienced motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in crashes because they’re less able to anticipate the movements of other drivers.

If you or someone you love was injured in a motorcycle crash caused by a negligent driver, the Oklahoma motorcycle accident attorneys at Parrish DeVaughn want to help. We know that you’re facing big expenses that you can’t afford, and the insurance company may be unfairly biased against you. When you call us, we’ll fight to get you paid and to ensure that you get fair treatment. Contact us today for a free consultation.