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Motorcycle Laws & Licensing for Idaho, United States 2021

Motorcycle Laws & Licensing for Idaho, United States 2021

Idaho Motorcycle Insurance

1. Introduction

When Idaho was given its nickname, “The Gem State,” it exaggerated the abundance of precious metals and resources that the early residents believed were hidden within the territory. However, the motorcycle roads that cut through the state of Idaho are no exaggeration. Plenty of long, winding roads pass by the mountains and farmlands that dot the landscape. To riders, the opportunities to go on adventures with their motorcycles are the best kind of treasure.


Idaho has plenty of highways for motorcyclists to traverse, but they need to make preparations before beginning their exploration. Preparations that ready them to handle the responsibility of operating a motorcycle. Preparations in case they run into trouble while on the road.


The purpose of this article is to inform you of motorcycle laws and the licensing process for Idaho as of 2021.

2. Idaho Motorcycle Insurance

As laid out by Idaho Statutes § 49-1229, you are required to own Idaho motorcycle insurance to be allowed to operate a motorcycle within the state. In case the local law enforcement pulls you over, you will need to carry proof of purchase that shows you have motorcycle liability coverage that you can show them.


As you will primarily have to pay for injuries or damages following an accident, your motorcycle liability coverage has to be able to cover the following minimum costs:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to a person per accident
  • $50,000 for the injuries or death of multiple people per accident
  • $15,000 for any property damages accrued per accident


If you are caught riding a motorcycle without any proof that you are financially liable, you will be given a fine of at least $75 on your first offense. If you are repeatedly penalized for not owning Idaho motorcycle insurance within five years, you could be subject to fines of at least $1,000 and/or imprisoned for six months in the county jail.


If you need to memorize the regulations for owning Idaho motorcycle insurance, you can find the section in the Idaho Code.

3. Idaho Motorcycle Helmet Laws

According to Idaho Statutes § 49-666, if you are below the age of 18 then you are required by law to always wear a motorcycle helmet when operating or riding a motorcycle. An appropriate motorcycle helmet would meet the safety requirements set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.


If you are a legal adult, you have the option of driving your motorcycle without a motorcycle helmet. However, it is best if you wear a motorcycle helmet at all times. Now you may dislike putting a motorcycle helmet over your head because of the assumptions that it is bulky and limits your field of vision. But the extra protection that lowers the chances of severe or fatal injuries to your head always outweighs the negatives.


To help you narrow down your search for types of motorcycle helmets that comply with Idaho motorcycle helmet laws, pick either a half helmet, a three-quarter helmet, or a full-face helmet.


Listed in the table below are the prerequisites that will satisfy the U.S. Department of Transportation and the features that help with protection, visibility, and fastening around your head:

Requirements Half Helmet Three-Quarter Helmet Full-Face Helmet
Has the Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Contours around your head and fits snugly  ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Is shatter-resistant ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
No signs of damage  Ex:// cracks, loose padding, 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  ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
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 ✔️ ✔️ ✔️

If you wish to look over the details regarding what to look for in a motorcycle helmet, you can find a section on this topic in the Idaho Code.

4. Idaho Motorcycle License Laws

4.1 Getting an Idaho Motorcycle Learner’s Permit

To begin the process of getting your Idaho motorcycle license, you first need to obtain a motorcycle learner’s permit. You become eligible when you turn 15 years old and as long as you have a valid Idaho driver’s license.


You will need to pass a knowledge test before you are granted a motorcycle learner’s permit. This will give you an idea of what to expect when you try the written portion of the Idaho motorcycle license test. You will have to pay a fee of $3 to take the test. If you fail, you will only be allowed to pay the fee again and retry after 3 days.


To finish getting your Idaho motorcycle learner’s permit, you will need to pay a fee of $15. It is valid for 180 days and you are allowed to operate a motorcycle so long as you keep the following restrictions in mind:

  • You can only ride during daylight hours
  • You cannot go out onto the freeways
  • You cannot carry passengers


If you wish to read a summary of the Idaho motorcycle learner’s permit, you can find a chapter in the Idaho Motorcycle Rider’s Manual.

4.2 Requirements for an Idaho Motorcycle Endorsement:

Depending on how old you are when you apply, there may be additional work you have to complete before you are eligible to get your motorcycle endorsement, or getting it added to your Idaho driver’s license will hardly take up much of your time. Listed in the table below are the criteria you need to me to earn an Idaho motorcycle endorsement:

Requirements Applicants Ages  15 to 20 Applicants Ages  21 and Older
Have a valid Idaho driver’s license ✔️ ✔️
Requires holding motorcycle learner’s permit for at least 6 months ✔️ ✔️
Allows you to operate a two-wheel motorcycle ✔️ ✔️
Allows you to operate a three-wheel motorcycle ✔️ ✔️
Complete an Idaho Skills Training Advantage for Riders Motorcycle Education Course (STAR) ✔️ ✔️*
Complete a motorcycle training course  (Basic I, Basic II, or Experienced) ✔️
Provide proof of Idaho motorcycle insurance ✔️ ✔️
Provide evidence of Idaho vehicle registration ✔️ ✔️
Fill out the appropriate driver’s license application ✔️ ✔️
Must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian if under the age of 18 ✔️
Have 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 test ✔️ ❌*
Provide proof of U.S. citizenship ✔️ ✔️
Provide proof of residency in Idaho ✔️ ✔️

If you are over the age of 21, you do not have to complete the motorcycle education courses. However, if you decide to complete a STAR course then you can show it at any Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) building to waive taking the motorcycle skills test. However, you can only do this if you manage to add the motorcycle endorsement to your Idaho driver’s license within two years of finishing the course.


If you wish to compare and contrast the requirements for getting an Idaho motorcycle endorsement between minors and adults, you can read about it in the Idaho Motorcycle Rider’s Manual.

4.3 Idaho Motorcycle License Test:

For the written portion of the Idaho motorcycle license test, you will be required to pay a fee of $3. You will have to answer 25 multiple-choice questions based on the chapters you read about motorcycle equipment, riding conduct, etc. in the Idaho Motorcycle Rider’s Manual. You will have to get at least 20 questions or 80% of the written test correct for you to pass.


For the riding portion of the Idaho motorcycle license test, you will be required to pay a fee of $25. You will have to provide your own vehicle and demonstrate your riding skills in a controlled environment while observed by an evaluator. You will have to show that you know how to safely accelerate, brake, stop, turn, swerve, maintain control at slow and rapid speeds, and be able to adjust speed depending on the situation.


The evaluator will grade you based on how well you can pull off normal and quick stops, maintain balance while initiating turns and swerves, following the correct paths laid out on the course, and moving at an appropriate speed when maneuvering.


You risk failing the motorcycle skills test if you do not have good posture and cannot stay focused while operating your vehicle. This also applies if you suddenly pause while in the middle of executing a maneuver when you are not supposed to.


If you plan to take the Idaho motorcycle license test and want to know what to expect, you can get a preview in the Idaho Motorcycle Rider’s Manual.

5. Idaho Motorcycle Passenger Laws

Since your passenger is subject to Idaho’s motorcycle laws just like you, he/she is required to wear a motorcycle helmet if he/she is below the age of 18. However, no rules are specifying any age restrictions for motorcycle passengers.


Made clear in Idaho Statutes § 49-962, it is illegal to carry a passenger on your motorcycle unless you install equipment intended to keep him/her secure and safe while riding with you. You will need to have footrests and a separate passenger seat situated behind the driver’s seat. The passenger seat can be a motorcycle saddle similar to the driver’s seat or a sidecar large enough to fit the lower torso.


To look over the details regarding motorcycle passenger laws in Idaho, there is a section you can look up in the Idaho Code.

6. Idaho Motorcycle Lane Splitting Laws

When explaining the rules of the road, Idaho Statutes § 49-637 states that all motor vehicles can only travel by staying centered in the lane they are currently on. If any drivers want to overtake the vehicles ahead of them, they must first check their surroundings and confirm there is enough space to safely move over to an adjacent lane without bumping into any other drivers. Even though it is not explicitly mentioned, this effectively makes lane splitting illegal in Idaho.


In case any motorcyclists try to attempt lane splitting when they believe there is no local law enforcement nearby to catch them, Idaho makes sure to install plenty of traffic-control devices that make it difficult or impossible for motorcyclists to attempt any dangerous behavior.


If you wish to go over what is considered legal motorcycle riding behavior in Idaho, you can locate the section in the Idaho Code.

7. Idaho Motorcycle Safety Features

You are encouraged to examine every inch of your motorcycle periodically to verify that the primary components are not about to malfunction. Even if your motorcycle never gets damaged in an accident, the machinery that makes up its structure will eventually begin to break down due to heavy use.


While vehicle inspections are not heavily enforced by the Idaho Transportation Department, your motorcycle should always be taken care of so it is street legal according to the Idaho Code. It is best to conduct an examination in your own garage where you have access to your tools rather than on the side of the road when a component breaks down.


Listed below are the essential motorcycle equipment that you need to repair or change before heading out on a motorcycle ride through Idaho:

  • Horn
  • Wheels
  • Tires
  • Handlebars
  • Brake System
  • Controls
  • Headlight
  • Taillight
  • Brake Light
  • Reflector
  • Exhaust system
  • Muffler
  • Turn signals
  • Rearview mirrors

The motorcycle horn must be able to project noise at least 200 feet away.


The fenders have to be applied to both wheels and have to be elevated at least 20 inches off the ground.


The brake system has to be applied to at least one wheel and has to be operated either by hand or foot.


The headlight has to be able to project a certain distance depending on how fast your motorcycle is moving. When moving less than 25 miles per hour, the light has to cover at least 100 feet. When moving between 25 to 34 miles per hour, the light has to cover at least 200 feet. When moving at or more than 35 miles per hour, the light has to cover at least 300 feet.


The taillight has to be visible from 500 feet away from behind.


The brake light has to be visible from 100 feet away from behind.


The turn signals must be visible from 100 feet away both front and back.


The rearview mirror must be able to let you see behind you at least 200 feet.


If you need to find the checklist for the motorcycle safety features in Idaho, you can read up on it in the Idaho Motorcycle Rider’s Handbook.

8. Idaho Motorcycle Muffler Laws

As detailed in Idaho Statutes § 49-937, every motorcycle must have a muffler attached that always functions properly whenever the engine is active, is given constant maintenance to keep it in good condition, and can lower the volume of the noise emitted from your ride.


You are not allowed to apply a cut-out, bypass, or any modifications that could compromise the effectiveness of the muffler. You cannot purposely shorten or remove the muffler to make the noise coming from the engine louder.


You are only permitted to operate on the muffler if you plan to make repairs, put in a replacement, or make slight adjustments to help reduce the noise coming from the engine.


When testing if your exhaust system is compliant with Idaho’s noise restrictions, measure from at least 20 feet away and check that it is at least 92 decibels or lower.


If you wish to review the guidelines for taking care of a motorcycle muffler in Idaho, you can check the instructions in the Idaho Code.

9. Takeaway

When it comes to riding a motorcycle in Idaho, there is a lot more to consider than just your ride and the destination you are trying to reach. You may think the most difficult parts of being a responsible motorcyclist are repairing broken components or following motorcycle traffic laws. But the truth is that the hardest challenge is remembering the motorcycle laws and licensing process in Idaho.


Even though being a motorcyclist should be about racing down asphalt freeways, the early half of your journey involves the slow process of learning how to operate a motorcycle. It can be equally dull trying to figure out which auto insurance company to invest in.


However, you cannot deny that there is merit in directing your attention to acquiring an Idaho motorcycle license and Idaho motorcycle insurance. You learn how to control a motorcycle properly by both reading instructions and practicing for real. Eventually, you become accustomed to being on a motorcycle as if it were an extension of you. Similarly, you will feel more comfortable knowing that you have motorcycle insurance to serve as a financial safeguard in case unexpected mishaps happen that threaten your health and your vehicle.


By the time you finally prove you are ready to handle a motorcycle, you will find it easier to keep in mind the functionality of your motorcycle, your passenger’s well-being, and legal riding maneuvers in Idaho. You will be able to pick up when the components vital to your safety or noise control might be experiencing problems. You will also know when your passenger is shifting in a dangerous manner and give directions accordingly. You will even become adept at evaluating your surroundings and determining the best way to travel between lanes. 

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