Louisiana Motorcycle Endorsements

Riding a motorcycle allows you to experience the outdoors in a way you wouldn’t in an ordinary vehicle. Cruising on a motorbike makes you feel like a part of it. Add the exhilarating feeling of the breeze blowing past and the sun shining down on you, and the addiction to motorcycling is in every way justified.

However, sometimes the fun gets cut short because of the recklessness of other motorists or bad decisions made by others (like road departments or motorcycle manufacturers). In an accident, a motorcycle offers no protection to you and your passenger. Even a minor wreck can lead to severe injuries.

Because of the potential dangers of a motorcycle accident, Louisiana has strict laws regulating motorcycle riding. Those laws aim to protect motorcyclists, their passengers, and other road users by establishing certain minimum skill and safety requirements.

One of these requirements is getting a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. That’s the topic of today’s blog.

What Is a Motorcycle Endorsement?

A Louisiana motorcycle endorsement is a credential showing that you possess the necessary skills to operate a motorcycle safely in Louisiana. While some other states issue motorcycle licenses separately, in Louisiana, the endorsement is marked on your existing driver’s license. This means you must be a licensed automobile driver before riding a motorcycle within the state.

Why Do You Need a Motorcycle Endorsement?

A novice would think that learning to balance on a two-wheeled machine and ride smoothly is enough to qualify you as a motorcyclist. But that’s far from true. One needs to learn essential motorcycle techniques and best practices to navigate public roads safely without an incident.

That means becoming well-versed in what to do before riding, basic vehicle control techniques, handling dangerous surfaces, road safety best practices, crash avoidance, when not to ride, and lots more.

It also means familiarizing yourself with the Louisiana laws and regulations that govern motorcycle riding so that you don’t violate them. Those rules exist to keep you and others safe on Louisiana roads.

A Louisiana motorcycle endorsement, in other words, constitutes proof that you are acquainted with these basics of motorcycling.

What Are the Requirements for Obtaining a Louisiana Motorcycle Endorsement?

To get a motorcycle endorsement in Louisiana, you must first have a Louisiana driver’s license or learner’s permit.

Bring your license, proof of residency, and proof of insurance to an Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) location.

There you must pass a vision test. You must also pay an $18 fee (plus a local fee of up to $6). If you are under 17, a parent or guardian should accompany you.

You may also be required to take a written knowledge test and an on-road skills test. The requirement for taking either test depends upon whether you have completed an approved motorcycle safety course (see below).

Here’s a description of each test.

Written Knowledge Test

The written knowledge test required in Louisiana assesses your motorcycle riding knowledge to ensure you can operate a motorcycle safely while following the relevant Louisiana laws and regulations. It contains 25 questions, and to pass, you must score at least 80 percent, i.e., answer 20 questions correctly.

You can prepare for the written knowledge test by studying the Louisiana Motorcycle Operator Manual and taking practice tests (available online).

Areas covered in the written knowledge test generally include:

  • How to prepare to ride (wearing the right gear, knowing your responsibilities, etc.);
  • How to ride safely (basic vehicle control, carrying passengers and cargo, getting off the road, intersections, etc.);
  • Riding in your best shape
  • Specific riding requirements;
  • How to prevent crashes and injuries.

Road Skills Test

The road skills test required in Louisiana evaluates your motorcycle operation and maneuvering techniques to determine if you can ride safely on public roads. Like the written knowledge test, you must pass the road skills test with a score of 80 percent or higher.

Check in advance with the OMV office where you plan to apply for your endorsement to find out when and where they conduct road skills tests. You may need to schedule your test date. According to OMV, road skills tests are not given during inclement weather.

You must supply the motorcycle to be used in the road skills test. Your motorcycle must have a current license plate, proof of current insurance, and a current inspection sticker. You must wear a helmet during the test.

Some of the skills the examiner is likely to test include:

  • Stopping normally and quickly
  • Swerving correctly
  • Turning normally and quickly
  • Accelerating safely
  • Selecting safe speed appropriately
  • Making critical decisions in hazardous situations

Motorcycle Safety Courses

As an alternative to taking one or both of the knowledge and road skills tests described above, you have the option of completing a state-approved motorcycle safety course. You have several options in this regard.

The Louisiana State Police (LSP) offers a course, known as the Louisiana Motorcycle Safety, Awareness, and Operators Training Program. Successful completion of that program on or after October 28, 2011, exempts you from both the knowledge and skills tests described above.

If you complete this program, you need only go to your local OMV office, pass the vision test, and pay the applicable fee, to obtain your Louisiana motorcycle endorsement.

LSP also offers other courses for motorcycle riders to help them sharpen their skills and ride safely in Louisiana. Here’s a rundown of the courses LSP offers:

#1. Basic Rider Course (a.k.a. Louisiana Motorcycle Safety, Awareness, and Operators Training Program)

This is a 15.5-hour course designed for beginner motorcyclists with no prior riding experience. The course equips the learners with physical skills, attitude, and knowledge to navigate public roads safely.

To complete the program, the learner must go through classroom learning and on-cycle instruction. Motorcycles are provided for student use.

#2. Intermediate Course

The intermediate course is for motorcyclists with prior riding knowledge. These could be basic rider course graduates or already-licensed motorcyclists who want to fine-tune their riding skills.

This course is much shorter than the basic rider course, usually covered in five hours. Mainly, it involves practicing braking, cornering, and maneuvering techniques.

A part of the program also includes team activity where riders share riding experiences and discuss risk management techniques. Overall, the course enhances their riding expertise for safer riding.

#3. Advanced Course

The advanced course is for skilled motorcyclists who are already licensed. It’s usually an 8-hour program, split into four hours in the classroom and four hours of on-road instruction.

This course is challenging compared to the intermediate program. It involves advanced skill development in self-assessment, rider behavior, risk management, and riding strategies. The training also covers more advanced swerving, braking, and maneuvering techniques.

#4. Instructor Preparation Course

Finally, enthusiastic motorcyclists passionate about road safety for bikers can train to become instructors with the LSP’s instructor preparation course. This leads to awarding of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach, which is a national certification.

Unlike the riding programs, the instructor course is about 65 hours long and has stricter requirements.

To qualify for the course, a rider must be:

  • At least 21 years old
  • Licensed motorcyclist
  • Routine rider
  • Self-motivated
  • Passionate about curbing motorcycle accidents, injuries, and deaths

#5. Non-LSP Motorcycle Safety Courses

Other providers also offer approved Louisiana motorcycle safety courses. Successful completion of these programs exempts you from taking the road skills test, but not the written knowledge test, for obtaining a Louisiana motorcycle endorsement.

As of May 2021, those providers are:

  • Taboo Harley-Davidson (Renegade Harley-Davidson) (Alexandria, LA), if the course completion date is on or after March 1, 2014
  • Hammond Harley-Davidson (Hammond, LA), if the course completion date was on or after August 14, 2015
  • New Orleans Harley-Davidson (New Orleans, LA), if the course completion date was on or after February 15, 2016
  • Cajun Harley-Davidson (Lafayette, LA), if the course completion date is on or after June 26, 2016
  • 720 Motorsports, LLC (NOLA Riding Academy) (Cut Off, LA), if the course completion date is on or after June 1, 2018
  • Motorcycle Rider Training Center (Albany, LA), if the course completion date is on or after November 2, 2020

New-Resident Riders

If you’ve recently moved to Louisiana and possess a valid motorcycle license or endorsement from another state, Louisiana law requires you to transfer your license or endorsement to ride legally in the state. You must complete the transfer within 30 days of establishing your residency. However, you don’t need to take the knowledge and on-cycle skill tests, as long as your out-of-state license or endorsement is valid.

To complete the transfer, follow these steps:

  • Visit your local Office of Motor Vehicles;
  • Present identification (driver’s license/official driving record, proof of insurance, social security card);
  • Pass a vision test;
  • Pay the applicable fee.

If you are under 17 years, a parent or guardian should accompany you.

Also, don’t forget to transfer your motorcycle registration within 30 days of relocating to Louisiana.

Penalties for Riding a Motorcycle in Louisiana Without an Endorsement

Riding a motorcycle in Louisiana without the necessary training, experience, and endorsement endangers your life and those of other road users. It also violates the law. In Louisiana, it’s illegal to operate any vehicle, including a motorcycle, without the appropriate license and endorsement.

If law enforcement catches you riding a motorcycle in Louisiana without a motorcycle endorsement, you could face stiff penalties.

The penalties for riding a motorcycle without the required endorsement include:

  • A fine of up to $500
  • A maximum jail term of 6 months

Repeat offenders face a minimum jail term of 7 days in addition to other penalties.

Louisiana Motorcycle Operating Regulations

Upon earning your Louisiana motorcycle endorsement, you must observe some basic regulations to ensure your safety on the road.

Those Louisiana state laws include:

  • Wearing a commissioner-approved helmet (must have a chin strap, lining, visor, and padding);
  • Using eye protection (secretary-approved goggles, safety glasses, face shields) or windshield;
  • Sitting astride the seat facing forward (both you and the passenger);
  • Never lane splitting (it’s illegal in Louisiana);
  • Carrying your endorsement whenever operating the motorcycle;
  • Keeping your hands firmly on the handlebars whenever riding;
  • Only carrying a passenger in a dedicated passenger seat;
  • Never carrying a child on a motorcycle.

Motorcycle Accidents

While getting training and a Louisiana motorcycle endorsement enhance your safety immensely, it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of getting into a dangerous motorcycle accident. Poor road conditions, reckless motorists, and other hazards can cause an accident for even the most seasoned bikers.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), thousands of motorcycle accidents occur every year in the United States. Many of those accidents happen because of the wrongful actions of someone other than the motorcycle rider.

For example;

  • A vehicle turning left before a motorbike
  • A motorcycle falling on the road while avoiding a crash with another vehicle
  • Sideswipe collisions
  • A vehicle making a U-turn before the motorbike
  • Another motorist rear-ending a motorcycle

Due to the vulnerability of motorcyclists, especially the instability of the motorcycle (being two-wheeled) and lack of protection following a crash, these accidents are potentially life-threatening, however minor.

As a result, motorcycle riders and their passengers often sustain severe injuries such as:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Fractured and broken bones
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Chest and abdomen trauma

No matter the type of injury you endure in a motorcycle accident, chances are good that it will be financially draining. Sadly, despite the increasing growth of the rider community and advocacy groups, motorcyclists still face prejudice from some quarters. Even when other motorists hit riders, receiving compensation from the insurance companies isn’t easy.

Prejudice against motorcyclists stands in the way of justice for many after crashes. This pushes many riders into deep financial crises, as they struggle with piling medical expenses and lost wages.

Call a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

But a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer can help riders get the money they need to pay for their medical care, replace their lost wages, and rebuild their lives after an injury.

If you have been in a motorcycle accident either as a rider or a passenger in Louisiana, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney today for a free case consultation.

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