Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | December 13, 2023 | Motorcycle Accidents
Any owner of one of the more than 363,000 registered motorcycles in New York State can tell you that driving a car is a significantly different experience from riding a motorcycle. A motorcycle doesn’t handle the same as a car on the road, and operating a motorcycle can come with greater risks to your safety.
For this reason — and to help reduce the approximately 5,000 motorcyclist fatalities that happen across the country each year — every state requires those who want to ride a motorcycle to obtain a special license or endorsement. In New York, you can also choose between different types of motorcycle licenses, depending on your needs.
3 Motorcycle Licenses in New York
New York offers would-be motorcyclists one of three licenses to operate a motorcycle lawfully within the state. Individuals with a valid license from another state don’t need to get a New York license unless they plan to relocate to New York permanently.
Otherwise, residents of the state looking for a motorcycle license can choose between a Motorcycle-Junior (MJ) license, a full Motorcycle license (M), or an Enhanced Motorcycle license (ME).
1. Motorcycle-Junior Licenses
An MJ License is available to riders who are at least 16 years of age and who have passed both a written and riding test. These riders must also have held a learner’s permit for at least six months.
Junior licenses in New York do not allow motorists to operate a vehicle in any of New York City’s five boroughs. Additionally, those holding a junior license may not be on the road between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless they are going to or from work or school.
2. Full Motorcycle Licenses
A Class M license is considered to be a full motorcycle license in that it allows the rider to operate a motorcycle anywhere within the state without restrictions. This includes riding in New York City and during both daylight and nighttime hours.
You can apply for a Class M license if you are at least 17 years old after learning to ride with a learner’s permit. Riders who are less than 18 years old must hold their permit for at least six months. You must pass a written and practical road test before you will be given your Class M license.
Holders of both MJ and M licenses must comply with all motorcycle laws of New York, which includes wearing an approved helmet anytime they are riding. There are no exceptions to these motorcycle laws for age, experience, or type of license.
3. Enhanced Motorcycle Licenses
An enhanced motorcycle license does not grant the holder any special privileges or rights that a Class M license holder does not have. Those with ME licenses must also obey all the laws applicable to motorcyclists in the state. Like a Class M license, motorcyclists who are under the age of 17 are not eligible to apply.
The enhanced aspect of an ME license refers to the fact that this type of license can also function as a verified form of federal ID. You would be able to display your ME license to board a plane, gain access to federal buildings open to the public, and reenter the United States after leaving the country.
You will need to comply with all of the other requirements to obtain a Class M license and provide additional documentation about your citizenship and identity to earn this license.
Which Motorcycle License Is Right For You?
Most motorcyclists will generally want to strive to obtain a Class M license, as it affords you the freedom to operate your bike anywhere in the state at any time. Those who do not want to carry a passport may find that an ME license’s convenience justifies the extra documentation that must be provided. Ultimately, what license you get depends primarily on your age and your needs.