Motorcycle riders often cite the enjoyment and exhilaration of riding as the primary reason why they own and ride a motorcycle. However, most motorcycle owners and operators also understand the possible risks of injury that come with riding a motorcycle. That's why most motorcycle riders in Williston, Vermont know and follow the state's motorcycle laws.
Obeying the law can help keep a rider safe while out on the road or highway - but many crashes are caused by other careless drivers. If you follow the motorcycle and traffic laws in Vermont and still get into an accident, chances are that the other driver or another party was responsible for your crash and any resulting injuries.
If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities under Vermont's motorcycle laws and how they may impact your rights and options if you've been involved in a motorcycle accident, get a free consultation with Lynch Legal Services, PLLC, today. Speak with our Vermont motorcycle accident attorney about your case and learn more about the recovery you may be entitled to after your accident.
Vermont law requires all persons operating or riding a motorcycle on a public road or highway to wear a helmet that conforms with the standards and regulations issued by the U.S Department of Transportation. The DOT requires that all motorcycle helmets meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.
Helmets meeting this standard usually have features such as:
- Inner lining of at least one-inch-thick polystyrene foam
- Riveted chin straps
- No protrusions extending beyond two-tenths of an inch beyond the surface of the helmet
- A manufacturer's label stating the manufacturer's name, the helmet model, the helmet size, the month and year of manufacture, and the construction materials used in the helmet
Helmets that meet FMVSS 218 will have a sticker that says "DOT." Helmets may also have approval stickers from non-profit organizations that rate helmet safety, such as Snell or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
If a motorcycle does not have a windshield or windscreen, then the operator must either wear eyeglasses or goggles, or have a face shield on their helmet.
The helmet requirement does not apply to occupants of fully enclosed autocycles.
In order to be legally operated in Vermont, all motorcycles and motor-driven cycles must be inspected annually at an authorized inspection station. All newly registered motorcycles must be inspected within 15 days of registration.
To pass the annual inspection, a motorcycle must have:
- An adequate headlight
- A rearview mirror
- A functional horn
- Adequate hand and foot brakes
- A legally compliant exhaust system
- A rear license plate bracket, with a light over the license plate
- Tires and fenders in good condition
- Adequate and functional handholds if the motorcycle is designed to carry a passenger
- If the motorcycle has an attached sidecar, the sidecar must have a white or amber light facing forward mounted on the right side of the sidecar
All motorcycles that pass the annual inspection must have a decal sticker mounted on the left side of the windscreen as low as possible, the left front fork leg, or in a metal tag attached to the left side of the motorcycle frame.
A Vermont resident wishing to operate a motorcycle must either have a motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement to their driver's license. Obtaining a motorcycle license or endorsement begins with getting a motorcycle learner permit to begin learning how to safely ride a motorcycle.
A motorcycle learner permit can be obtained by completing a Vermont Motorcycle Awareness Program training course approved by the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles and by passing a written knowledge test.
The motorcycle learner permit allows you to ride a motorcycle on public roads, subject to certain conditions:
- You may only operate a motorcycle during daylight hours.
- You may not carry passengers.
- You may not ride outside the state of Vermont.
After you have learned how to operate a motorcycle (such as by taking the Vermont Rider Education Program), you can apply to take the skills test. You must take the test on a motorcycle that has been lawfully transported to the test site, either by you riding the motorcycle yourself if you have a valid motorcycle learner permit, having a licensed motorcycle operator ride the motorcycle to the site, or transporting the motorcycle by a registered vehicle.
If you fail the skills test, you must have a one-week practice period before you will be allowed to take the test again.
All motorcycles must be registered with the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles to be lawfully operated on public roads and highways in the state.
If applying for a motorcycle registration in Vermont, you must submit an application for registration, tax, and title, along with the manufacturer's certificate of origin (if purchasing a new motorcycle from a dealer) or the properly assigned title from the dealer or private party you are purchasing the motorcycle from. You must also submit a bill of sale and odometer disclosure statement.
In addition to submitting the necessary paperwork, you must also submit the required purchase and use tax. Purchase and use taxes are calculated as a percentage of either the purchase price of the motorcycle or the National Automobile Dealers Association clean trade-in value (whichever is greater) minus the value of any trade-in vehicles or other allowable credits. The purchase and use tax for motorcycles in Vermont is six percent.
Lane-splitting is illegal under Vermont law. This means that a motorcycle rider may not ride between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles on the road. It also means that a motorcycle is entitled to the full width of the lane of travel. Other vehicles overtaking a motorcycle must fully move over to the adjacent left lane (if legal to do so), and motorcycles must also move over to the adjacent left lane when overtaking. However, Vermont law does permit two motorcycles to ride side-by-side in the same traffic lane.
If you've been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another party, Lynch Legal Services, PLLC, can help you understand the laws as they apply to your case, as well as the full scope of the compensation you may be owed as a result of your losses. Don't hesitate to contact an experienced motorcycle attorney. We're ready to help.