Whether you want to save money at the gas pump, have an easier time parking, or just experience the thrill of riding, purchasing a motorcycle can be an exciting event. However, you can’t just buy a new bike and immediately set off on a grand adventure—or even immediately start taking it to work.
To legally drive a car, you need a valid driver’s license, and to legally ride your motorcycle, you need a valid class M endorsement on your license. This is a fairly recent change in Alabama. Until May 2015, all drivers with valid licenses who were at least 16 years old could legally ride a motorcycle. But now, Alabama has joined all 49 other states by requiring a valid motorcycle license or endorsement.
If you’re a new Alabama resident who already has a valid out-of-state motorcycle license, you can apply to have a Class M endorsement added to your license without much hassle. Head to your local Department of Public Safety (DPS) office and bring the following:
If you don’t have a valid motorcycle license or endorsement from another state, you’ll need to pass either a knowledge exam at your local DPS office OR complete a motorcycle safety course.
The best way to pass the motorcycle knowledge exam is to study the official Alabama Motorcycle Operator Manual. This manual can be read and downloaded for free, and it contains all of the information you need to know to pass your exam. You can also take practice exams online to test your skills before you sit for the real thing.
Note, however, that while passing the knowledge exam can legally grant you a Class M endorsement on your license, there’s a big difference between memorizing facts and having first-hand experience. Never ride on a public street without either taking a safety course or having an experienced rider teach you how to maneuver and safely ride your motorcycle.
The only real prep work to complete for taking an Alabama motorcycle safety course is to have your own motorcycle (or have access to one that you can borrow) and register for a safety course near you. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has a database of courses nationwide, including many in Alabama, that will teach you the basics of riding a motorcycle.
No experience is required, but an open mind, proper safety gear, and a willingness to learn ARE requirements. After you complete the course, ensure that you receive a certificate or other proof that you finished the course. You’ll need this document to get your motorcycle endorsement.
Whether you take the knowledge exam at the DPS office or you opt to complete a motorcycle safety course elsewhere, you’ll need to bring these items with you when you decide to get a Class M endorsement on your license:
To maximize your safety, you should take a motorcycle safety course AND study the Alabama motorcycle operator manual, regardless of which route you take to receive your Class M endorsement. Then, you should practice riding in parking lots and less trafficked roads before hitting the highway. Riding with a more experienced and safety-conscious rider can also help you develop good habits that can reduce your risks of being involved in an accident.
As the saying goes, there are two types of riders: those who have wrecked and those who will. Unfortunately, many of those riders crash because of negligent and reckless drivers. When that happens, they suffer serious injuries and miss weeks or months of work—and that means no paychecks. Worse yet, they often get unfairly blamed for their crashes by insurance companies.
Our Montgomery motorcycle accident lawyers know the challenges that injured riders face, and we work hard to help them get full compensation. If you or someone you love was hurt on a motorcycle by a negligent driver, you need a legal advocate on your side. Contact us today for a free consultation.