Motorcycling For Texas Minors

In the State of Texas, there are several motorcycling laws that apply to minors that can be confusing and even tricky to understand, even for a Houston motorcycle accident attorney evaluating a motorcycle accident case. In addition to licensing requirements, Texas imposes an obligation to wear a helmet on minors that does not apply to all adults. Additionally, Texas does not allow a minor to have any alcohol in his system when operating a motor vehicle, including a motorcycle. Furthermore, there are strict requirements for passengers in Texas that apply to minors as drivers and minors as passengers that you need to be aware of. Understanding these laws may help you prevent losing your privilege to ride lawfully in Texas.

Texas Motorcycle Licensing Requirements for Minors

To operate a motorcycle in Texas, you must have a motorcycle operator’s license or motorcycle endorsement to your driver’s license. Minors under 14 are prohibited from operating a motorcycle in Texas. There are different types of Texas motorcycle licenses that may be issued to minors starting at age 15.

Motorcycling minorsTexas Helmet Requirements

DOT-approved motorcycle helmets are required for all motorcycle operators under the age of 21. People 21 and up are also required to wear helmets unless they complete an approved (basic or advanced) motorcycle operator training course or they are carrying at least $10,000 in medical insurance. However, this law is hard to enforce for people over 21 since it contains provisions prohibiting police officers from pulling riders over just to check for proof of the above.

No Tolerance for Minors Consuming Alcohol and Riding a Motorcycle

Texas underage drinking and driving laws do not allow minors under the age of 21 to operate a motorcycle (or any other vehicle) in a public place with any amount of detectable alcohol in their system. Minors under the law AUTOMATICALLY CONSENT to have a specimen drawn by blood or breathalyzer.  If ANY alcohol is detected from the specimen, the following penalties apply:

  • 1st Offense – The Minor’s license is suspended for 60 days
  • 2nd Offense – The Minor’s license is suspended for 120 days
  • 3rd Offense – The Minor’s license is suspended for 180 days

In addition to the above, there may be a $500.00 fine, 20-40 hours of community service, and mandatory alcohol awareness courses.

If a minor refuses to provide a specimen, the penalty increases to:

  • 1st Refusal –The Minor’s license is suspended for 180 days
  • 2nd Refusal –The Minor’s license is suspended for two years.

An unlicensed minor who refuses cannot get a driver’s license for the above-prescribed periods.

If the minor is 17-20 and has a .08 or more BAC, he/she may be charged with DUI resulting in up to a $2,000.00 fine, 3-180 days in jail, and suspension of your license from 90 days up to a year. Additional offenses have increasing penalties commensurate with the Texas DUI laws.

Additionally, the minor may face substantial liability if they cause an injury-producing drinking and driving accident.  In addition to the typical personal injury damages, they may face liability for punitive damages for their grossly negligent conduct.

Texas Motorcycle Passenger Requirements

motorcycle ridersPassenger requirements can get confusing when it comes to minors and motorcycles. First, under Texas Transportation Code 545.416, no motorcycle may carry passengers of any age unless there is an attached sidecar or the motorcycle is designated (with a permanent seat) to carry more than one person and is equipped with passenger footrests and passenger handholds. Second, no motorcycle may operate with a passenger under the age of 5 unless that person is in an attached sidecar. Third, all minor passengers must comply with the Texas helmet laws above. Fourth, a minor may not transport more than 1 person under the age of 21 unless they are all family members.

If the above laws do not make it confusing enough, there are certain types of restricted motorcycle licenses for minors that require them to ride only with a person above the age of 21 for a certain amount of time and/or to not operate with minors. So make sure you understand any restrictions placed upon your license before you ride.

Texas vs Other State Requirements

Some of Texas’ motorcycle laws are unique to Texas. Others vary only by the age or punishment for violations. Different states have their own rules for when a minor can operate and/or ride as a passenger on a motorcycle. If you plan to travel across state lines, do not assume that everyone else operates the same way as Texas. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, talk to a Texas motorcycle accident lawyer to determine what your rights are.

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