If you are operating a motorcycle in Nevada, you must wear a helmet. You also must wear goggles or protective face shields if the vehicle has no screen or windshield. Because lane-splitting is unlawful, you cannot pass or ride next to an automobile or other motorcycle in the same lane.
In this article, our Nevada personal injury attorneys discuss these and other Nevada motorcycle safety laws, including:
- 1. What are Nevada motorcycle law requirements?
- 2. Are helmets required?
- 3. What are the rules for passengers?
- 4. What are the driving and passing laws?
- 5. How do I get a motorcycle license?
- 6. What are the laws for motorcycling under the influence?
Injured in a motorcycle crash in Nevada? Learn about filing motorcycle accident lawsuits in Nevada.
1. What are Nevada motorcycle law requirements?
Nevada state law defines motorcycles as “every motor vehicle equipped with a seat or a saddle for the use of the driver and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, excluding an electric bicycle…, a tractor and a moped.”1
Motorcycles on Nevada roadways must meet all the following ten requirements:
- The seat is high enough so your feet cannot both reach the ground simultaneously.2
- The handlebars extend no more than six (6) inches above your shoulders while you are astride the vehicle.3
- The wheels are protected by fenders.4
- The motorcycle has stoplights as well as one-to-two headlamps visible from 1,000 feet to be used during inclement weather and from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.5
- The headlamps must be from 24 to 54 inches from the ground, and the color temperature ranges from 5,000 to 6,000 kelvins.6
- The motorcycle has at least one (1) tail lamp (brake light / brake light / red taillight) that emits a red light visible from 500 feet.7
- Motorcycles manufactured in 1973 and later must have electric turn signal lamps in the front and rear. The front lamp’s color may range from white to amber, and the rear lamp’s color may range from amber to red.8
- There must be at least one (1) rear reflector between 20 and 60 inches from the ground and that is visible from 300 feet.9
- There must be two (2) rearview mirrors at least three (3) inches long mounted on each handlebar, enabling you to see 200 feet to the rear.10
- The motorcycle must be equipped with brakes and have a functioning muffler.11
In addition, you must keep one hand on the handlebar at all times. All bikes must have a horn. Plus you must comply with any local exhaust and noise ordinances.
Note that there are no motorcycle curfew laws in Nevada. If you buy a motorcycle, you have no right of rescission or cooling-off period when purchasing used bikes, though you may be able to sue if you had no way of knowing the bike had problems. Also, lemon laws give you legal recourse if the bike turns out to be defective after reasonable repairs.12
Learn more in the Nevada DMV Motorcycle Operator Manual and the Nevada Motorcycle Equipment Requirements site. Also refer to the Operator’s Manual’s safety checklist:
2. Are helmets required?
Yes. You are required to wear securely-fastened helmets while driving motorcycles on public roadways in Nevada. It makes no difference if traffic is slow or light. (You also have to wear helmets when riding mopeds, motorized scooters, trimobiles, and similar vehicles.)
As a motorcycle rider, you are also required to wear
- protective glasses, or
- face shields for eye protection if the motorcycle lacks a transparent windscreen.13
Motorcycle helmets must meet all the following six standards to be in accordance with DOT (Nevada Department of Transportation), the U.S. Department of Transportation, and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration):
- The helmet weighs at least three (3) pounds.
- There is an inner liner made up of a minimum one (1)-inch thick layer of firm polystyrene foam.
- There are sturdy chin straps with rivets.
- External components extend no further than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet’s surface.
- The helmet has a manufacturer’s label revealing its name, model type, year, and materials.
- The back of the helmet has a sticker imprinted with “DOT,” which certifies compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards.
If you are cited for failing to wear a helmet, you are required to pay a fine, which varies by location. The fee for violating helmet laws in the city of Las Vegas is $208.14 The fee in the city of Reno is $80.15
Not wearing a motorcycle helmet also adds two (2) Nevada demerit points to your driver’s license.16
Learn more about Nevada motorcycle helmet laws (NRS 486.231).
3. What are the rules for passengers?
Passengers are not allowed on motorcycles in the state of Nevada unless the vehicle was designed to carry more than one person and has separate footrests for the passenger.
As a motorcycle passenger, you must ride either:
- Behind the driver and astride the seat that was designed for two people; or
- Astride a second seat attached to the rear of the driver; or
- In an attached sidecar
As a passenger, you must wear a helmet as well.17
4. What are the driving and passing laws?
To ride a motorcycle in Nevada, you must abide by the same traffic laws and rules — and enjoy the same privileges — as drivers of automobiles on public roads. For instance, you must never exceed the maximum speed.
Lane splitting between traffic lanes is not permitted.18 You may drive on any lane on a road unless signage indicates otherwise. Two motorcycles may drive next to each other in the same lane as long as both motorcyclists consent.
You may not pass another vehicle in the same lane even though it can fit in the same lane. Like automobiles, motorcycles must pass by temporarily swerving into the adjacent lane.
Note that police avoid high-speed chases involving motorcycles due to safety concerns.19
5. How do I get a motorcycle license?
You need a Class M license to drive motorcycles in Nevada. This is different from the Class C license that is required to drive automobiles. You must be at least 16 years of age and present proof of your identity and a social security number to get a Class M license.
You may obtain a Class M motorcycle endorsement in one of three ways:
- Get an out-of-state motorcycle license transferred to Nevada (within 30 days of moving to Nevada);
- Take a knowledge test, skills test, and vision test at the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles; or
- Complete a Motorcycle Safety Course certified by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
The DMV examiner will also conduct a safety check of your motorcycle and check to make sure you have current and valid insurance and registration. You also have to show you know how the bike works, from the choke, throttle and ignition to the starter, clutch, and gear shift.
Learn more – including instruction permits for minors ages 16 and 17 – at the Nevada DMV motorcycle license website.
Note that you are required to show your license to a police officer or in a court of law upon request.20
6. What are the laws for motorcycling under the influence?
Just like automobile drivers, motorcyclists in Nevada face DUI charges either for:
- driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol; or
- driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .08% (even if you are not drunk); or
- driving with illegal amounts of certain drugs in their blood (even if you are not high)
If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, you may be asked to take a preliminary breath test as well as to perform field sobriety tests. If you then get arrested, you are required to submit to a chemical test (breath or blood, depending on the case).
A first-time DUI in Nevada without causing major injuries or death is a misdemeanor. The judge will usually agree to “suspend” any jail sentence as long as you pay a fine, attend Nevada DUI school, and fulfill other terms. You may also have your driver’s license suspended, even if your DUI case gets dismissed. (Learn about avoiding a driver’s license suspension in Nevada.)
Note that DUIs that cause injury or death are charged as a category B felony, carrying two to twenty (2 – 20) years in Nevada State Prison. Learn more about Nevada DUI penalties.21
There are several different ways to fight motorcycling under the influence charges in Nevada depending on the case. Common defenses include:
- the blood- or breath-testing equipment was defective
- the people performing the chemical tests were not certified or made a mistake
- you had a medical condition that caused an inflated BAC result
- law enforcement lacked probable cause to pull you over
Learn more about Nevada DUI defenses.
Injured? Call a Nevada personal injury attorney…
If you have been harmed in a motorcycle collision in Las Vegas, NV or elsewhere in the state, call our Las Vegas motorcycle accident attorneys for a case evaluation.
Our law firm will fight to get you the maximum payout to cover all of your expenses, including loss of future earnings and pain and suffering. And we take no payment unless we win your case.
Also see our articles on Nevada bicycle safety laws and Nevada motorized bicycle laws.
- NRS 486.041.
- NRS 486.191.
- NRS 486.201.
- NRS 486.221.
- NRS 486.251.
- NRS 486.281.
- NRS 486.261.
- NRS 486.271.
- NRS 486.291.
- NRS 486.311.
- NRS 486.301.
- NRS 486.211. Nevada DMV – Buying a Vehicle – Nevada Dealer Sales. NRS 597.682, et. seq.
- NRS 486.231. In authorized parades, motorcyclists do not need helmets. And helmets are not required when a three-wheel vehicle, except a trimobile, is driven on a highway, and the driver and passengers ride within an enclosed cab.
- Las Vegas Municipal Bail Schedule & Sentencing Guidelines.
- Reno Municipal Bail Schedule.
- Nevada DMV Violation Codes.
- NRS 486.181.
- NRS 486.331; NRS 486.341. Safe lane-splitting is legal in California.
- NRS 486.351. Steve Wolford, LVMPD has rules against engaging in dangerous pursuits, KTNV (October 29, 2016).
- NRS 486.361.
- NRS 484C.110 – .250.