Minnesota Motorcycle Laws on Helmets, Insurance, Lane Splitting and More

Whether you are an experienced or new rider, it can be helpful to review Minnesota motorcycle laws. These regulations were designed for your safety and the safety of others on the road.

TSR Injury Law has written a comprehensive guide to motorcycle laws and regulations in our state, including laws about licensing, insurance, helmets and more.

If you were injured in a motorcycle crash and need help pursuing compensation for your damages, call us to schedule a free legal consultation. Our Minneapolis motorcycle accident lawyers take cases on contingency, which means there are no fees for taking your case and no fees while working on your case.

Call us today for legal assistance: (612) TSR-TIME.

What do Riders Need Before They Get on the Road?

There are several things all motorcyclists must have before they can ride:

  • Class M endorsement on their license or a motorcycle instruction permit; you must keep this with you while riding
  • Liability insurance
  • Proof of required insurance coverage
  • Valid license plate on a properly registered motorcycle
  • Eye protection (face shield, goggles or glasses, etc. – you cannot satisfy legal requirements with the windshield on your bike)

Obtaining a Class M Endorsement in Minnesota

You must have a valid Minnesota driver’s license to apply for a Class M endorsement or motorcycle instruction permit. Assuming you have a driver’s license, you can take a written knowledge test at a driver examination station.

You can only take the test once per day. If you fail the test, you will have to wait until the next day to retake it.

Riders who are under the age of 18 are required to present a certificate of completion of a motorcycle rider training course approved by the state. If you do not present this certificate, you cannot take the knowledge test.

If you pass the test, you can request an instruction permit or continue the process of obtaining a motorcycle endorsement. There is a $29 fee for the permit.

Can I Ride on the Highway With a Motorcycle Permit?

You are prohibited from riding a motorcycle on any interstate highways while you have an instruction permit. You are only allowed to ride a motorcycle on public roads with this permit until the Basic Rider Course is completed.

Instruction riders must also abide by the following restrictions:

  • Wear a helmet and federally approved eye protection
  • Do not carry any passengers
  • Do not ride at night, which includes a half hour before sunset and sunrise

Motorcycle Skills Test

When you are ready, you can take the skills test to obtain your motorcycle endorsement. The skills test requires riders to complete four exercises to demonstrate vehicle control and their ability to respond to hazards.

When you go to the driver examining station, you must present your current driver’s license and motorcycle instruction permit. If you are under the age of 18 you must also present a certificate of completion of a rider training course.

The motorcycle you use must have the required equipment and be properly registered and insured. You need to have proof of valid registration and insurance. Make sure you have a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and required eye protection.

Riders who fail the test will be assigned practice time. You must complete your assignment before you will be allowed to retake the skills test.

Riders who are at least 18 years of age and have a valid driver’s license and instruction permit do not have to take the skills test if they complete the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center Basic Rider Course.

Is There a Fine For Not Having a Motorcycle License in Minnesota?

If you are caught riding a motorcycle without a Class M endorsement on your license or instruction permit, you could be fined $1,000 and potentially spend 90 days in jail. Your motorcycle will also be impounded.

Motorcycle Registration

You cannot ride a motorcycle in Minnesota unless it has been registered with the state and the license plate bears the sticker showing the bike has been registered. Bikes must be registered every year between March 1 and the end of February.

If you are a new resident, you have 60 days from the date you became a new resident to register your bike.

Required Motorcycle Insurance

You are not allowed to ride a motorcycle in Minnesota unless you have the minimum required insurance.

Unlike drivers, motorcyclists are not required to purchase personal injury protection insurance. Riders are required to have liability insurance that covers:

  • $30,000 per person for bodily injury
  • $60,000 per crash for bodily injury
  • $10,000 for damage to property

There are additional coverages riders can purchase to provide extra protection in case of a crash. For example, you can purchase collision or comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage pays for damage to your motorcycle from a crash, while comprehensive coverage pays for damage from a no-contact crash.

Is it Legal to Ride a Motorcycle in Minnesota Without a Helmet?

Minnesota’s motorcycle helmet law requires riders and passengers who are under the age of 18, and those who only have a permit and not a motorcycle endorsement, to wear a DOT-approved helmet.

Although helmets are not required for every rider, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety strongly recommends that all motorcyclists and passengers wear them.

What are the Motorcycle Equipment Requirements in Minnesota?

Minnesota motorcycle laws also address the equipment your bike must have to be street legal. This includes:

  • One or two headlights that have high-beam and low-beam settings; bikes can have no more than four headlights with these settings
  • One red taillight, with an accompanying stop lamp or brake light
  • Floorboards or footrests for passengers if the bike has a passenger seat
  • One front or rear brake that can be operated by your foot or your hand
  • Rearview mirror that reflects the road for at least 200 feet to the rear of the rider
  • Horn that makes a sound that can be heard from at least 200 feet away
  • License plate that is securely fastened so it does not swing
  • Turn signals that can be seen from 100 feet in front and 100 feet to the rear of the bike
  • Muffler that blends the exhaust noise into the overall noise of the vehicle; the exhaust system cannot create a sharp popping or crackling noise

Minnesota state law says motorcycle headlights must always be turned on when you are riding.

Rules of the Road for Motorcyclists in Minnesota

You must follow many of the same laws that drivers must follow. For example, all state laws about driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs apply to drivers and riders. You cannot operate your bike carelessly or recklessly, which includes doing wheelies, stoppies (riding on the front wheel) or standing on the seat.

Here are some of the other laws you must follow when you are riding your motorcycle:

  • You must be sitting on a permanent seat, facing forward with one leg on each side of the bike
  • Passengers must be able to reach both footrests while seated on the bike
  • You cannot carry anything (animals, packages, bundles or other cargo) that impairs your ability to hold the handlebars
  • You may make full use of a lane of traffic; no other motor vehicle can be operated in such a way that a motorcycle rider is deprived of the full use of a lane of traffic
  • You are permitted to use high-occupancy vehicle/carpool lanes
  • You can wear headphones while riding, but only in one ear
  • You are permitted to use hand signals to indicate that you are turning
  • Two motorcycles can ride side by side in one lane if both riders agree to do so
  • Park completely within a marked space
  • If you are parking next to passing traffic, angle your bike so it points at the nearest lane of traffic, as this allows you to see traffic in both directions

Is Lane Splitting Illegal in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, it is illegal to ride a motorcycle between lanes of traffic that are stopped or moving slowly. Police officers are the only ones permitted to lane split.

What if the Traffic Signal Does Not Detect Your Motorcycle?

If you reach an intersection with a broken traffic signal, or one that stays red for an unreasonably long time, you are permitted to cross the intersection on your motorcycle. If you are cited for illegally crossing the intersection, you may be able to avoid penalties if you can prove all the following:

  • You came to a complete stop at the intersection
  • The signal is broken or it was programmed to change to green after detecting a motor vehicle, but it fails to detect motorcycles
  • The traffic light stays red for an unreasonably long time
  • No other motor vehicle or person is approaching, or they are so far away they are not an immediate threat to your safety

Contact an Experienced Attorney Today

Motorcycle crashes can and often do cause catastrophic injuries to riders. One of the most important things you can do after suffering a severe injury in a motorcycle crash is talk to an experienced lawyer about pursuing compensation.

We know recovering compensation cannot change what has happened, but it is a vital part of the recovery process. You cannot rely on the insurance company to take care of you. Research has shown the odds of recovering full compensation increase when victims hire experienced attorneys.

TSR has secured more than $1 billion on behalf of our clients and we are ready to assist you.

No upfront fees or legal obligations. Call TSR today: (612) TSR-TIME.

Call Now
Call now!

(612) TSR-TIME

Contact us and
schedule a FREE initial case evaluation

Free Case Review

No Fees Unless We Win

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.