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Motorcycle Laws & Licensing for Connecticut, United States

Motorcycle Laws & Licensing for Connecticut, United States

1. Introduction

To be permitted to operate a motorcycle through Connecticut or “the Nutmeg State,” you must complete the process of acquiring a motorcycle license and learning about the rules of the road specific to this state. Knowing the list of qualifications to become a motorcyclist will ensure that you put in the necessary research and practice. It is necessary to have the appropriate documentation, protective clothing, and motorcycle equipment ready to promote better safety when you ride. You also have to know proper roadside etiquette by offering seating to your passenger and avoiding lane splitting.

This post will provide an overview of the essential motorcycle laws and a step-by-step explanation of the licensing process in the state of Connecticut.

2. Connecticut Motorcycle Insurance

In Connecticut, it is required of all riders to purchase motorcycle liability insurance coverage that is approved in this state. Whenever you are riding your motorcycle, you must carry proof of ownership on your person or stored on your motorcycle. You must be able to produce the relevant documents when requested by local law enforcement or affected parties following an accident.

Your Connecticut liability insurance coverage must be able to cover the minimum costs for the following accident-related fees:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to a person per accident
  • $50,000 for bodily injuries to multiple people per accident
  • $25,000 for property damages sustained per accident

Aside from the coverage you will need to pay for medical expenses and property damages, it is also mandatory to acquire both uninsured and underinsured motorist protection:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to a person per accident
  • $50,000 for bodily injuries to multiple people per accident

If you wish to protect your health and property, you will need to acquire optional forms of motorcycle insurance coverage. As these are not mandatory, only purchase what you can afford and what will be useful under specific circumstance during an accident:

  • Collision coverage
  • Comprehensive coverage

3. Connecticut Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Connecticut Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Connecticut Motorcycle Helmet Laws

In Connecticut, all riders under the age of 18 must wear an approved motorcycle helmet while operating motorcycles. If you are above the age restriction, you can choose to go without having protective headgear on. However, this is not recommended since you would be depriving yourself of protection needed to prevent severe or fatal head injuries.

While the age requirement for wearing motorcycle helmets allows adult riders the option of having to wear a motorcycle helmet only when they choose, this in turn has caused an increase in motorcycle fatalities in recent years:

  • As stated by the NHTSA, riders are 28 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries compared to passenger car occupants
  • In Connecticut, an average of 50 riders are killed in collisions each year
  • In 2015, motorcycle helmets were estimated to have saved at least 12 and could have saved an additional 12 if more riders wore protective headgear
  • In 2020, there were estimated to be 56 motorcycle fatalities in Connecticut

When browsing for an approved motorcycle helmet, you should pick out one that was made by the Snell Memorial Foundation. It should also meet or exceed the safety standards for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The two types of motorcycle helmets that provide the best protection and visibility are the three-quarter and full-face helmets.

Listed in this table below are the features that your motorcycle helmet is required to have if you wish to operate a motorcycle in Connecticut:

Requirements Three-Quarter Helmet Full-Face Helmet
 Has the Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker  ✔️ ✔️
 Contours around your head to fit snugly due to comfort padding  ✔️ ✔️
 No signs of damage (Ex:// cracks, loose padding, scratches, or frayed straps)  ✔️ ✔️
 Has a face shield with no scratches  ✔️
 Includes separate eye protection with no scratches (Ex:// goggles, glasses)  ✔️
 Has a hard and durable outer shell that is shatter-resistant  ✔️ ✔️
 Has a impact absorbing liner inside the helmet  ✔️ ✔️
 Gives you a clear, peripheral view of your surroundings  ✔️ ✔️
 Securely fastened with neck- or chin-strap  ✔️ ✔️
 Allows airflow without fogging up  ✔️ ✔️
 Can allow you to wear sunglasses underneath  ✔️ ✔️

4. Connecticut Motorcycle License Laws

4.1 Connecticut Motorcycle Learner’s Permit

You can begin applying for a Connecticut motorcycle learner’s permit if you are at least 16 years old or above.

You must pay a fee of $16 to be issued a Connecticut motorcycle learner’s permit plus an additional $40 testing fee for the required exams.

To be given the permit, you must complete the following tasks and fulfill all of the listed criteria:

  • If you are under 18 years old:
    • Have signature and consent from parent or legal guardian
  • Present current Connecticut driver’s license
  • Provide proof of Connecticut residency
  • Provide proof of U.S. citizenship
  • Provide forms of identification
  • Take a photo
  • Pass the knowledge exam
  • Pass the vision exam
  • Pay the required fees

When you are operating with a Connecticut motorcycle learner’s permit, you will have to comply with the following restrictions as you practice:

  • You can only operate during daylight hours
  • You cannot carry any passengers
  • You cannot operate on limited access highways
  • You cannot operate outside Connecticut
  • You must be wearing protective clothing

4.2 Connecticut Motorcycle Endorsement

You are eligible to receive a Connecticut motorcycle endorsement if you are at least 16 years old or above.

You must pay a fee of $30 to have the motorcycle endorsement added to your Connecticut driver’s license plus an additional $40 testing fee for the required exams.

Listed below are the requirements you will need to fulfill to obtain a Connecticut motorcycle endorsement. Depending on your age when you approach the final step, the list of criteria may differ between motorcyclists:

Requirements Applicants Ages 16 to 17 Applicants Ages 18 and Above
 Have a valid Connecticut driver’s license  ✔️ ✔️
 Complete a DMV approved motorcycle safety course  ✔️* ✔️*
 Held onto a Connecticut motorcycle learner’s permit for at least 60 days  ✔️
 Cannot transport passengers 90 days after receiving motorcycle endorsement  ✔️
 Cannot transport passengers for a period of six months after receiving motorcycle endorsement  ✔️
 Provide proof of Connecticut motorcycle insurance  ✔️ ✔️
 Provide proof of Connecticut vehicle registration  ✔️ ✔️
 Fill out the appropriate driver’s license application  ✔️ ✔️
 Must have consent of a parent or legal guardian if you are a minor  ✔️
 Provide your social security number  ✔️
 Pay required fees  ✔️ ✔️
 Present valid photo I.D.  ✔️ ✔️
 Take a photo  ✔️ ✔️
 Take vision exam  ✔️ ✔️
 Pass the knowledge test  ✔️* ✔️*
 Pass the road skills test  ✔️* ✔️*
 Provide proof of U.S. citizenship  ✔️ ✔️
 Provide proof of residency in Connecticut  ✔️ ✔️

*Submitting a Certificate of Completion for a motorcycle safety course approved by the DMV in Connecticut will give you the option of waiving the roads skills portion of the Connecticut Motorcycle License Test.

4.3 Connecticut Motorcycle License Test

Written Portion:

  • Will be completed on touch-screen computers
  • Complete 16 multiple-choice questions
  • Questions will be based on content from Connecticut Motorcycle Operator Manual & Connecticut Driver’s Manual
  • Will be tested on understanding of road rules and safe riding practices
  • Requires a passing grade of 75% or higher

Riding Skills Portion:

  • Will be conducted in a controlled, off-street area or an actual traffic environment
  • Your motorcycle will be subjected to a pre-ride inspection to ensure it meets safety standards
  • Demonstrate basic understanding of motorcycle operation
  • You will be tested on your ability to stay within the speed limit, adjusting speed and position, maintaining visibility, operating under stress, accelerating, braking, turning, stopping, and swerving
  • The examiner will grade you based on how well you ride at safe speeds, stay within the lanes, and demonstrate riding maneuvers

5. Connecticut Passenger Laws

In Connecticut, there is no minimum age requirement for motorcycle passengers. However, any motorcycle passengers under the age of 18 are only permitted to ride with you if they are wearing an approved motorcycle helmet.

For it to be legal to carry a passenger, your motorcycle must be outfitted with equipment specifically designed to provide secure yet comfortable seating for an additional person. The required equipment will include a designated passenger seat, handholds, and footrests.

The designated passenger seat can only be fixed to the sides or at the rear of your motorcycle. There must be space between the driver and passenger seats to allow the passenger to fully extend his/her legs on both sides. This will also prevent the passenger from interfering with the operator while handling the motorcycle. The designated passenger seat can only be positioned at the following places on your motorcycle:

  • The back part of a large driver’s seat
  • Towards the rear as a separate saddle
  • Fixed to the side as a sidecar

Because there is no age restriction, you will have to consider other criteria when deciding who can safely ride with you. A popular rule of thumb is that a passenger must be able to reach and plant their feet against the footrests. Therefore, it is best to avoid transporting young children or elderly individuals. Other characteristics to look for in a motorcycle passenger include the following:

  • Your passenger must be able to reach the footrests
  • Your passenger must wear an approved motorcycle helmet
  • Your passenger cannot be carrying any packages
  • Your passenger must be able to understand and follow your directions

6. Connecticut Lane Splitting Laws

It is illegal for motorcyclists to engage in lane splitting while in Connecticut. Because lane splitting involves getting precariously close to larger vehicles and maneuvering in their blind spots, the chances of getting into a fatal accident become higher. To avoid collisions and trouble with local law enforcement, motorcyclists should avoid engaging in the following behavior:

  • Riding on top of the dividing lines between lanes
  • Riding in between adjacent rows of stopped vehicles
  • Overtaking a larger vehicle ahead in the same lane

However, thanks to the high maneuverability and compact design of motorcycles, riders are entitled to certain rights regarding how they can act when on the road. Motorcyclists are allowed to attempt the following behavior in Connecticut:

  • You are allowed to make full use of the space within a single lane
  • You can only share a lane with another motorcycle if:
    • Both parties stay apart at least two abreast
    • Both parties consent beforehand

7. Connecticut Motorcycle Equipment Requirements

Part of your responsibility as a motorcyclist is to remember to bring your motorcycle in for periodic vehicle and safety inspections. These are necessary to ensure your motorcycle’s primary components have not suffered significant damage and that they are still functioning properly. Your motorcycle runs a risk of experiencing mechanical failure should even a single component become faulty. Do not delay to apply repairs with your tools or take your vehicle to a professional mechanic.

Listed below are the equipment your motorcycle must be fitted with to be considered street legal in Connecticut. These components are essential to your motorcycle’s maneuverability, visibility, and overall functionality:

  • Horn
  • Wheels
  • Tires
  • Handlebars
  • Front & Rear Brake
  • Controls
  • Headlight
  • Taillight
  • Brake Light
  • Turn Signals
  • Exhaust system
  • Muffler
  • Rearview mirrors

8. Sources

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