From failing to register your motorcycle with the Department of Transportation to ignoring the helmet law before hitting the road, there are plenty of ways to break Arizona motorcycle laws. So before getting too bad to the bone, it’s imperative that you understand and follow these laws to protect you and other motorcycle riders on the road.

For the full list of Arizona motorcycle laws you need to be aware of, keep reading.

Requirements for Obtaining an Arizona Motorcycle License

In the state of Arizona, a Class M license is required to legally operate a motorcycle. This means that the general Class D driver’s license you received for operating a car or truck will need to be updated.

If you’re not a licensed driver already, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Have a learner’s permit if under 18 years old
  • Complete a motorcycle driver safety program approved by the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) or present a certified form signed by a guardian if a minor

If you’re already a licensed driver in Arizona and you’re seeking a motorcycle endorsement, you must do the following:

  • Pass a written test
  • Pass a medical and vision screening

Those are the only two steps you must take to add a Class M endorsement to an existing license.

Registration Process for Motorcycle Operators in Arizona

All motorcycles must have a valid Arizona motorcycle insurance policy, and motorcycles must be registered with the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) within 15 days of purchase. Proof of insurance is necessary to register the motorcycle, and registration is necessary to receive your motorcycle license plate. Without a plate and registration, driving your motorcycle is illegal.

In most cases, the dealership you’ve purchased the motorcycle from will complete all necessary registration steps on your behalf, so there’s no reason to worry.

However, if you’ve purchased the motorcycle privately, it’s your responsibility to register the motor vehicle.

Man choosing a motorcycle to buy, looking on the plate with specifications and price in the showroom with expensive sports bikes

To register your motorcycle in Arizona, you must follow these steps:

  • Fill out the title and registration application (Form 96-0236)
  • Provide proof of Arizona motorcycle insurance
  • Provide a signed, notarized title of the motorcycle
  • Pay any valid fees and taxes

Once the registration process is complete and you’ve received your license plate, motorcycle laws in AZ require you to mount it horizontally and use only a white light to illuminate it.

What is Arizona Motorcycle Helmet Law?

Arizona motorcycle helmet law ARS § 28-964 states that all persons using the vehicle (motorcycle operators and passengers) under the age of 18 must wear a helmet.

Motorcyclists can choose between two types of helmets: three-quarters and full face. Helmets must meet the Department of Transportation and state standards, meaning they must fit the head snugly and be without defect.

Failure to comply with Arizona motorcycle helmet law can result in fines between $25 and $75, with fines increasing for repeat offenses.

Additional Safety Equipment Required by Motorcycle Safety Laws

In addition to helmet requirements, Arizona law also details additional safety standards required while operating a motorcycle. A motorcyclist must wear some type of eye protection at all times while operating the vehicle, either in the form of protective glasses, goggles, or a transparent face shield. However, eye protection is not necessary if the motorcycle features a permanent protective windshield or windscreen.

Seats and footrests are required for both the motorcycle operator and passenger.

Men on motorcycles

Additionally, motorcycles must be equipped with rearview mirrors, headlamps, and functioning handlebars. Though, without the handlebars, you’re likely not getting too far in the first place.

Passenger Motorcycle Laws in AZ

Motorcycle riders who choose to cruise with a passenger are expected to uphold Arizona passenger law ARS § 28-892. Essentially, the law states that motorcycle riders may only accept a passenger if the motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person. If this is the case, the passenger must have both a seat and footrest of their own.

If the passenger is under 18, a protective helmet is required. Likewise, if the motorcyclist only has a permit, passengers are not allowed on the vehicle regardless of the vehicle’s passenger capacity.

Arizona Lane Splitting Law

Since motorcycles are a fraction of the size of most vehicles on the road, it can be tempting to ride between lanes or alongside another vehicle in your lane. Unfortunately,

Arizona law refers to this practice as lane splitting, and it is illegal.

According to ARS § 28-903, a motorcycle operator cannot overtake and pass another vehicle in the same lane of traffic. Additionally, a motorcycle operator cannot ride between the lanes of traffic or between adjacent rows of vehicles.

Arizona motorcycle law explicitly allows each motorcycle to use an entire lane or ride side-by-side with another motorcycle. If you find you need to pass another vehicle, you must properly indicate your lane change and use the second lane to overtake and pass.

Noise Laws for Arizona Motorcycle Riders

While the sound of the throttle might be thrilling, Arizona law has other feelings about how loud your muffler and exhaust can be. In Arizona, the maximum noise level for motorcycle mufflers is determined by the year of the vehicle and measured 50 feet from the motorcycle.

Sound levels are quantified by what the human ear hears, so each is measured in A-weighted decibels, or dB(A).
The maximum noise levels for motorcycles produced before 1972 are:

  • 84 dB(A) if moving slower than 35 mph
  • 88 dB(A) if moving 35 mph or faster

The maximum noise levels for motorcycles produced between 1972 and 1980 are:

  • 79 dB(A) if moving slower than 35 mph
  • 82 dB(A) if moving faster than or equal to 35 mph but slower than 45 mph
  • 86 dB(A) if moving 45 mph or faster

The maximum noise levels for motorcycles produced after 1980 are:

  • 76 dB(A) if moving slower than 35 mph
  • 80 dB(A) if moving faster than or equal to 35 mph but slower than 45 mph
  • 83 dB(A) if moving 45 mph or faster

Additionally, AZ motorcycle laws state that a motorcyclist cannot operate a motorcycle that is not equipped with the manufacturer’s original muffler. If the original muffler is not installed, a replacement muffler or noise reduction equipment capable of reducing the noise levels below maximum operating levels must be in use. Moreover, motorcycle riders are prohibited to use muffler cutouts or bypass devices.

Do Arizona Motorcyclists Share the Same Rights as Other Motor Vehicles?

Motorcyclists are expected to conduct themselves just as any other motorist would. This means that a motorcycle operator is entitled to full use of a lane and is expected to follow the same Arizona driving laws as every other motor vehicle making their way through Tucson, Phoenix, or Flagstaff.

Common rules of the road motorcyclists share with other motorists include:

  • Yielding to all traffic signs
  • Yielding to emergency personnel
  • Yielding to pedestrians when applicable
  • Adhering to all posted speed limits
  • Properly indicating the next move in traffic, such as using turn signals or having working brake lights

Motorcycle riders do have one additional perk, though. A motorcyclist can use the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane at any time, regardless of how many passengers the vehicle is carrying.

Avoid a Motorcycle Accident with These Arizona Laws

Failure to adhere to Arizona motorcycle laws puts riders at an elevated risk of being involved in an accident.

Black helmet and motorcycle on the road after fatal collision with a car

Due to the exposed nature of a motorcycle, a variety of common motorcycle accident injuries can occur on impact. Being aware of other vehicles on the road and respecting helmet and safety standards can go a long way in ensuring public safety and protecting Arizona motorcyclists from personal injury and property damage.