motorcyclist with helmet

To safely operate a motorcycle, riders should follow Missouri motorcycle laws. Complying with the legal requirements for motorcycle operation can help reduce your risk of an accident. It can also help protect your legal rights if you are involved in a crash.

With more than 50 years of combined legal experience, Sumner Law Group, LLC, has extensive knowledge of the legal requirements for operating a motorcycle on Missouri roads and highways. Our Missouri motorcycle accident attorneys can help if you have been hurt in a crash that was not your fault. Contact our firm today for a free case evaluation.

Missouri Motorcycle Helmet Law

Under Missouri law, every person riding or operating a motorcycle must wear protective headgear that meets U.S. DOT requirements. However, in 2020, the state adopted a new law allowing motorcycle operators age 26 and older with a class M license or class M endorsement on their driver’s license to ride without a helmet if they possess health insurance or other insurance that provides medical benefits for injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. Passengers must still wear helmets at all times. The law does not permit law enforcement to stop operators to confirm their age or that they possess the requisite insurance coverage.

Helmets that meet U.S. DOT requirements will typically have a DOT sticker, as well as a label stating the manufacturer and helmet model name, the month and years of manufacture, and the construction materials used. Helmets bearing certification stickers from certain independent testing organizations, such as Snell or ANSI, will also likely meet DOT regulations.

Missouri Motorcycle Safety Requirements

In order to lawfully operate on public roads and highways in Missouri, a motorcycle must have the following fully functional equipment:

  • Headlight
  • Taillight
  • Brake light
  • Horn
  • Front and rear brakes
  • Muffler

All motorcycles in Missouri must be lawfully registered with the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles. Motorcycles must pass a safety inspection performed by an authorized inspector. (However, motorcycles within the first five years following their model year are exempted from the required inspection.)
Motorcycles must be reinspected every two years.

Motorcycle operators in Missouri are also required to carry motorcycle insurance with minimum policy limits mandated by law:

  • $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage
  • $10,000 per accident in property damage liability coverage

Missouri Lane Splitting Law

Lane splitting, or the practice of riding a motorcycle on a traffic line or in between lanes of vehicle traffic, is not expressly prohibited by Missouri law. However, lane splitting is also not expressly authorized as a legal and safe maneuver. Only California has a law authorizing lane splitting. As a result, lane splitting may be deemed an unsafe or illegal maneuver, depending on the circumstances.

A rider who engages in lane splitting can be stopped and ticketed by a police officer for unsafe operation. If the rider gets into an accident, lane splitting may be cited as evidence to hold the rider partially or entirely at fault for the accident.

Missouri law prohibits lane sharing, or the practice of two vehicles traveling side-by-side in the same lane of traffic, except that two motorcycles may lawfully ride abreast in the same traffic lane. Vehicles that wish to pass a motorcycle must move fully over to the adjacent left lane (if lawful to do so).

Missouri Motorcycle License Requirements

In Missouri, any person wishing to operate a motorcycle on public roads and highways must have a class M learner’s permit or license, or a class M endorsement on their driver’s license.

A person can apply for a motorcycle instruction permit if he or she is older than 15 years and 182 days. An applicant for an instruction permit must complete a motorcycle rider training course approved by the state and pass the Class F and Class M written knowledge tests and a vision test. Applicants under 18 must also have written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

Instruction permit holders under 16 years old have the following restrictions on their operation of a motorcycle:

  • Engine displacement must be less than 250 cc.
  • Riders are not allowed to carry passengers.
  • Riders must stay within 50 miles of the operator’s residence.
  • Riders may only ride during daylight hours.

Instruction permit holders 16 and older are restricted to daylight driving and refraining from carrying passengers.

Those wishing to obtain a Class M license or Class M endorsement must pass an on-cycle skills test conducted either on the road or in an off-street, controlled area. The test is designed to ensure riders understand road rules, proper operation of a motorcycle, and safe riding practices. If riders take the test with a three-wheeled motorcycle (such as a motorcycle equipped with a sidecar), the Class M license or endorsement may come with a restriction on two-wheeled motorcycles until those riders pass the skills test with a two-wheeled motorcycle.

Hurt in a Crash? Talk to a Missouri Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Now

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Missouri, the state’s motorcycle laws may affect your case and your right to compensation. For a free consultation with a Missouri motorcycle accident attorney, contact Sumner Law Group, LLC, today. We can discuss the details of your crash and explain more about your legal options.