May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Do you know the rules of the road when it comes to operating a motorcycle in Michigan?
To legally operate a motorcycle, a Michigan motorcycle rider must have a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement, also called a “CY endorsement.” This endorsement comes from the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) and can be obtained in two ways:
• complete a certified motorcycle safety course, present the completion certificate at the SOS office and apply for endorsement, and then pass a vision test and a written knowledge test; or
• pass a vision and a written knowledge test at the SOS office and get a temporary instruction permit (allows practice riding while under the supervision of an endorsed rider), pass a skills test through a third-party testing agency and then present a skills test certificate at the SOS office and apply for the endorsement.
According to the SOS, about 14% of Michigan’s motorcycle riding population are not properly endorsed and, unfortunately, they are involved in almost half of all motorcycle crashes. The penalty for operating a motorcycle without the proper CY endorsement is a $500 fine (first offense). The bike may also be towed.
In Michigan, it is permissible to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, ever since the state’s mandatory helmet law was repealed in 2012. The Sinas Dramis Law Firm strongly encourages all motorcyclists and passengers to always wear a helmet. However, if you choose to not wear a helmet, here are the requirements:
• motorcycle operators can ride without a helmet when all the following are met: 1) at least 21 years old, 2) have at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits and 3) have had a motorcycle endorsement for at least two years, or passed an approved motorcycle safety course.
• motorcycle passengers don’t have to wear a helmet as long as they: 1) are at least 21 years old and 2) have at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits (in addition to insurance required of motorcycle operator)
• a person under 21 must always wear a helmet when operating or riding a motorcycle
In addition, Michigan requires that motorcycle owners have liability insurance coverage, which is also known as “PLPD coverage.” No-fault auto insurance is not required for motorcycles because they are not considered motor vehicles. PLPD coverage is mandatory in case the motorcyclist is at fault for an accident and causes bodily injury, death or property damage. The penalties for not having PLPD insurance are:
• you can be charged with a misdemeanor (fines and/or imprisonment).
• you may be disqualified from receiving no-fault benefits that might be available if you’re in an accident involving a motor vehicle.