Motorcycle Laws in Florida
I have noticed a disturbing trend in St. Petersburg. I have seen more and more riders wearing headphones or earbuds while riding their motorcycle or moped. It would seem to be commonsense that wearing earphones while riding a motorcycle would be inadvisable, but apparently it is not. It is illegal to ride a motorcycle or moped in Florida while wearing headphones. Helmets with speakers and single earbud cell phone headsets may also be worn legally.
I had a discussion with someone the other day about whether this was a stupid law. This person’s argument was premised on the fact that deaf people could get a license and ride, therefore, this law made no sense. I could not get them to grasp a couple of points. First, riders are safer if they are not wearing headphones. Secondly, the fact that a deaf person can obtain a license does not give merit to the position of allowing all riders to ride without the benefit of being able to hear. People who are deaf are very much aware of their hearing limitations and are much more focused on their surroundings when riding.
Does Florida Require Motorcycle Headlights?
Yes, motorcycle riders are required to use headlights at all times while riding their motorcycle. Since 1978, motorcycles have been wired so that the headlamp is always on when the bike is running. Florida allows modulating headlights to be utilized during daylight hours. Modulating headlamps are an aftermarket feature that causes the headlamp to flicker. Many riders believe that the modulating headlamps cause their motorcycle to be more visible than the standard “always-on” headlight. The failure to do so may be used to show the comparative fault of the rider, in the event that there is an accident.
What Equipment is Mandatory for Motorcycle Riders?
Did you know that Florida law requires helmets and protective eye gear? It is true. However, there is one exception to this law. If the rider is over the age of 21 and covered by an insurance policy providing at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding upon a motorcycle. All riders, under the age of 21, must wear a helmet at all times when operating or riding on a motorcycle. Eye protection is always required for motorcycle riders in Florida.
Florida Insurance Requirements for Motorcycles
Insurance is not required to register a motorcycle like it is for cars, but if a biker is at fault in an accident that causes property damage or bodily injury and is not carrying insurance the penalties can be severe. The penalties for such an accident include mandatory SR 22 insurance coverage for a period of three years and possible suspension of the at-fault rider’s driver’s license.
PIP Benefits for Motorcyclists
PIP or personal injury protection is mandatory coverage that must be maintained on all cars and trucks in Florida. In a nutshell, PIP coverage provides that your insurance company will pay the first $10,000.00 in medical bills. Obviously, this $10,000.00 can be exhausted rather quickly, but it does get some of the medical providers paid more quickly and provides an incentive for medical providers to care for injured persons without health insurance.
That all sounds wonderful, right? Not so fast, because motorcycles are not covered under Florida’s PIP laws. Some insurance companies provide a PIP type coverage, but it is very important to read those policies because they are not governed by Florida’s PIP statute.
Ape Hangers in Florida
“Ape Hangers” are handlebars that extend upward so that the rider has to reach up to grab the grips. The video below shows some variations of ape hanger handlebars.
In Florida, the handgrips on the handlebars cannot extend above the shoulders. The handlebar laws, across the country, are a constant source of irritation for bikers. Some states set a maximum of 15 inches above the seat. Other states allow 30-inch handlebars. Some states require at the shoulder, some below, and some a predetermined distance above the shoulder. Sixteen states have no restrictions on handlebar height. South Dakota, home of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, will be the seventeenth state on July 1, 2015. The South Dakota state legislature has voted to repeal their current restrictions on handlebar height. The multitude of laws makes it very difficult for a motorcycle rider whose chopper is fitted with ape hangers to travel across the country on a road trip.
Lane Splitting in Florida
Lane splitting is the practice by motorcyclists in which riders will occupy the space between two cars in order to pass. The video below shows someone utilizing the practice of lane splitting.
Lane splitting or lane sharing is illegal in Florida. In fact, although it is legal in almost every country, it is still illegal in every state except California. Lane splitting takes motorcycles out of stop and go traffic where they are vulnerable and allows motorcycles to escape congested areas. There have been numerous studies that all seem to indicate that lane splitting is a practice that helps keep riders safe in congested urban areas. The American Motorcycle Association is in favor of allowing lane splitting in all states, but recognizes the need to educate motorists who do not understand the purpose of lane splitting and become aggravated when they witness a rider splitting lanes. However, the practice is strictly illegal in Florida and all riders should refrain from lane sharing.
Motorcycles Sharing the Same Lane in Florida
In Florida, two motorcycles may ride abreast in the same lane. More than two motorcycles operating abreast in the same lane is prohibited. It is a practice that used to be illegal in many states, but riders fought back believing that it was simply a means for police to harass bikers over a practice that studies showed was safe. In fact, riding side by side allows riders to communicate more effectively.
Passenger Laws in Florida
In Florida, there are two basic laws regarding passengers on motorcycles. First, there has to be a seat for the passenger or the seat must be meant for two. Secondly, there must be footrests for the passenger.
Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Lawyer at Jones Law Group
Have you or a loved one been injured in a motorcycle accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg motorcycle accident attorney at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by the negligence of another, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.
Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707