Are There Different Laws for Riding Different Styles of Motorcycles in Georgia?

Apr 28, 2021

Do Motorcycle Laws in Georgia Vary Depending on the Style of Motorcycle You Ride?

Yes and no. In most cases, the traffic laws for riding traditional motorcycles apply the same way across the board. There are some slight variations depending on the engine size, whether it carries passengers, and whether the “motorcycle” is actually an off-road dirt bike. However, there are some specific laws and regulations regarding the use of certain types of motorcycles in Georgia.

Passengers on Motorcycles

It’s legal to carry passengers in Georgia on a regular seat designed for two people or if there’s a second seat firmly attached behind or to the side of the rider in some kind of sidecar. Any motorcycle that’s carrying a passenger (except in a sidecar) must also have footrests for the passenger.

If a rider is carrying a passenger illegally – meaning their seat wasn’t designed for two people, or it doesn’t have footrests for the passenger – and they get in an accident, any injuries might be attributed in part to the rider. This potentially puts the rider in a difficult position, especially if they weren’t at fault for the accident.

The rider and passenger might still be able to get compensation from the responsible driver’s insurance company. Still, there’s a good chance their compensation would be reduced or that they could also be held liable for the passenger’s injuries.

Consequences of Non-Compliance with Motorcycle Laws

Failing to adhere to Georgia’s motorcycle laws can lead to serious legal and personal repercussions. Legal consequences may include hefty fines, penalty points on your driving record, and even license suspension. 

Beyond legal penalties, non-compliance increases the risk of accidents, which can result in severe injuries or fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are approximately 28 times more likely to die in a crash than passenger car occupants. Wearing a helmet, a legal requirement in Georgia, reduces the risk of head injury by 69% and the risk of death by 37%.

In addition to physical harm, accidents can lead to significant financial burdens, including medical expenses and loss of income. Motorcyclists who neglect safety laws not only endanger themselves but also face potential civil liability if involved in an accident, resulting in lawsuits and higher insurance premiums.

Mopeds, Scooters, and Electric Bicycles

Most scooters – at least if they have an engine displacement of 50cc or more – are subject to all the same rules as regular motorcycles. That means riders need to have a motorcycle license and be adequately insured.

Mopeds do not have to be registered or insured under Georgia law, but riders do need to have either a learner’s permit or a driver’s license to operate one legally. Mopeds are defined in Georgia as having:

  • Engine displacement of 49cc or less
  • A maximum of two horsepower

Since mopeds are so slow, they are only allowed on streets where the speed limit is lower than 35 mph. Moped riders are also legally required to wear a helmet, but they aren’t required to carry insurance.

Electric scooters and E-bikes are treated the same as regular bicycles, not motorcycles. That means there are no licensing requirements or insurance requirements, but they can only be operated on bike paths, bike lanes, or roads with speed limits under 35 mph. It’s also worth noting that, like bicycles, any rider under the age of 16 is required by law to wear a helmet.

Normal GA Motorcycle Laws and Requirements

The only fundamental differences between types of motorcycles and their legality in Georgia are related to equipment. For example, motorcycles with handlebars that are more than 15 inches above the seat – frequently referred to as “ape hanger” handlebars – are not legal in Georgia.

The other equipment guidelines for motorcycles are the same across the board, whether it’s a touring motorcycle, cruiser, sport bike, chopper, or anything else.

The laws that pertain to how motorcycle riders operate their motorcycles, like laws against lane splitting and laws that allow two riders to share a single lane, apply to all types of motorcycles equally.

As long as your motorcycle is street legal, you’re wearing the legally required safety equipment, you have a motorcycle license, and your motorcycle is registered, then you should be treated the same as any other rider on the street.

How Can Georgia Motorcycle Accidents Lawyers Assist You?

In the unfortunate event of a motorcycle accident, professional legal assistance can make a significant difference. Georgia motorcycle accident lawyers offer a range of services designed to protect your rights, help you navigate complex legal processes, and ensure you receive fair compensation. These experts provide critical support in various ways.

Legal Consultation and Advice

Your initial encounter with Georgia motorcycle accident lawyers often involves a consultation, where they review your case, answer your questions, and provide essential legal advice. They can explain Georgia’s motorcycle laws applicable to your situation and guide you accordingly.

Investigation and Evidence Collection

These legal professionals also delve into an in-depth investigation of the accident. They gather relevant evidence, talk to eyewitnesses, and document the accident scene, if necessary. This helps establish the facts and build a strong case.

Representation in Court

If your case ends up in court, your lawyer will be your advocate, defending your rights and presenting your case in the most favorable light. They utilize their knowledge, experience, and skills to fight for your cause.

Negotiation with Insurance Companies

Lawyers specializing in motorcycle accidents are adept at negotiating with insurance companies. They ensure that insurers fulfill their obligations and that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Settlement Negotiation

If a settlement is in your best interest, your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf, aiming to secure the most favorable outcome possible. They understand the nuances of settlement negotiations and strive to get you the maximum compensation.

Get Help After a Motorcycle Accident in Atlanta

Being treated the same as every other motorcyclist on the street isn’t always a good thing for riders. There are a lot of people who assume every rider is reckless just for getting on a motorcycle. You could be more competent on your motorcycle than all the motor vehicle drivers around you on the road, but that won’t stop some people, including on a jury, from assuming you were the one who did something wrong.

These biases against riders often result in motorcyclists being mistreated after getting seriously injured in an accident. The other driver’s insurance company may try to argue that you did something reckless and caused the accident or that you were at least partially to blame for your own injuries.

The team at the Dressie Law Firm understands motorcycle accident cases and is committed to fighting for every client. We’ll carefully investigate your motorcycle crash and look for concrete ways to show the other driver was responsible for your injuries.

Call us at 770-209-2120 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.