Motorcycle drivers in Nevada are required to follow the same rules of the road as automobile drivers. In addition, motorcyclists must have a Class M license and wear helmets that meet Nevada motorcycle helmet standards (NRS 486.231).
Under Nevada motorcycle laws, motorcyclists may drive only vehicles that meet all of Nevada’s safety requirements, including having sufficient reflectors, mirrors, lamps, and fenders. And motorcyclists must ride solo unless their vehicle is specifically made to accommodate a passenger.
Operating a motorcycle while intoxicated on alcohol or narcotics is a violation of Nevada DUI laws. And like automobile drivers, motorcyclists risk having their motorcycle driver’s license suspended following a DUI.
In this article, our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys discuss Nevada motorcycle safety laws, including:
- 1. What are Nevada’s motorcycle requirements?
- 2. Are helmets required?
- 3. What are the rules for passengers?
- 4. What are the driving and passing laws?
- 5. How do you 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.
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 the driver’s feet cannot both reach the ground simultaneously.2
- The handlebars extend no more than six (6) inches above the driver’s shoulders while he/she is 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 (a.k.a. brakelight / 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 the driver to see 200 feet to the rear.10
- The motorcycle must be equipped with brakes and have a functioning muffler.11
In addition, the driver must keep one hand on the handlebar at all times. All bikes must have a horn. And bikers must comply with any local exhaust and noise ordinances.
Note that there are no motorcycle curfew laws in Nevada. Motorcycle buyers have no right of recission / cooling off period when purchasing used bikes, though they may be able to sue if they had no way of knowing the bike had problems. And lemon laws give buyers legal recourse if the bike turns out to be defective after reasonable repairs.12
Yes. Motorcyclists are required to wear securely-fastened helmets while driving on public roadways in Nevada. It makes no difference if traffic is slow or light. (Riders of mopeds, motorized scooters, trimobiles, and similar vehicles also have to wear helmets.)
Motorcycle riders are also required to wear goggles, glasses, 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.
Motorcyclists cited for failing to wear a helmet are required to pay a fine, which varies by location. The fee for violating helmet laws in the city of Las Vegas is 205.14 The fee in the city of Reno is $80.15
Not wearing a motorcycle helmet also adds two (2) Nevada demerit points to the person’s driver’s license.16
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.
Motorcycle passengers 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
Passengers must wear helmets as well.17
Motorcyclists in Nevada must abide by the same traffic laws and rules — and enjoy the same privileges — as drivers of automobiles on public roads. For instance, drivers must never exceed the maximum speed.
Lane splitting between traffic lanes is not permitted.18 Motorcyclists 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.
Motorcyclists 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
People need a Class M license to drive motorcycles in Nevada. This is different from the Class C license people require to drive automobiles. People must be at least 16 years of age and present proof of their identity and a social security number to get a class M license.
People 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 the applicant’s motorcycle and check to make sure he/she has current and valid insurance and registration. The applicant also has to show he/she knows how the bike works, from the choke, throttle and ignition to the starter, clutch, and gear shift.
Learn more – including about instruction permits for minors age 16 and 17 – at the Nevada DMV motorcycle license website.
Note that motorcyclists are required to show their license to a police officer or in a court of law upon request.20
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 the driver is not drunk); or
- driving with illegal amounts of certain drugs in their blood (even if the driver is not high)
Motorcyclists pulled over on suspicion of DUI may be asked to take a preliminary breath test as well as to perform field sobriety tests. If the motorcyclist then gets arrested, he/she is 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 the defendant pays a fine, attends Nevada DUI school, and fulfills other terms. Defendants may also have their driver’s license suspended, even if their DUI case gets dismissed. (Learn about avoiding a driver’s license suspension in Nevada.)
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
- the motorcyclist had a medical condition that caused an inflated BAC result
- law enforcement lacked probable cause to pull the motorcyclist 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 free 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.
- 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.