NJ Motorcycle Laws & Insurance Requirements

February 8, 2021 | Chris Costello, Esq.

Nothing is as freeing the wind blowing through your hair and rushing over your face as you ride your motorcycle through the roads in beautiful New Jersey. A motorcycle ride can top off a relaxing weekend or help you to unwind after a stressful day as long as you aren’t one the 12,000 people that were involved in a motorcycle crash from 2012 to 2016 according to the NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

 The NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety gives the startling statistic that individuals riding motorcycles are 28 times more likely to die in a crash than those in traditional passenger vehicles. Because of this grim statistic it is imperative that motorcyclists do all they can to best protect themselves from motorcycle crashes and take the proper steps to mitigate damages as much as possible. To help minimize the potential for a crash and serious injuries it is essential to have the proper training and properly working protective equipment when riding your motorcycle.

If you are involved in a motorcycle crash that was not your fault you likely have grounds to make a claim and get reimbursement for damages such as property damages, medical expenses and pain and suffering. Determining if you qualify for insurance coverage on a motorcycle can be complicated, you should always consult a licensed and experienced NJ motorcycle attorney that can help you evaluate your claim.  

When evaluating your claim it is important you disclose all facts surrounding the crash and whether or not you were abiding by NJ’s motorcycle laws. It is likely you will be asked: 

  • Were you wearing a DOT approved helmet? 
  • Did you have a valid motorcycle endorsement? 
  • Were you speeding at the time of the crash? 
  • Had you been drinking any alcohol or were you under the influence of any kind of controlling substance? 

If you are new to New Jersey or are thinking about getting a motorcycle the following are a few frequently asked questions about New Jersey’s motorcycle laws and requirements:

Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in New Jersey?

Yes, according to New Jersey Revised Statutes 39:3-76.7 you must wear a motorcycle helmet in New Jersey. While there is no federal law stating you must wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, New Jersey has elected to require it’s motorcyclists to wear a DOT approved helmet. It is not only a legal requirement but it is the safest to wear a DOT approved helmet. Helmets help to reduce the risk of a serious head injury by 69% and reduce the risk of death by 37%! Wearing a helmet, though inconvenient at times can literally save your life if you are involved in a motorcycle crash. 

Am I required to wear goggles/face shield when riding a motorcycle? 

If you have a windscreen/windshield on your motorcycle that meets NJMVC requirements you are not required to wear goggles or a face shield according to NJ motorcycle laws.

Do I need a motorcycle license in New Jersey?

Yes, you do need a motorcycle endorsement to operate a motorcycle in New Jersey. There is an exception if the motorcycle’s engine is smaller than 50ccs or cannot exceed a speed of 35 mph, then you are not required to have an endorsement.

What do you have to do to get a motorcycle endorsement?

According to the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission  there are 2 ways you can get a motorcycle endorsement added to your license. 

  1. Participate and complete Basic Rider Course (BRC); or 
  2. Apply for the endorsement without completing the course

What are the benefits of participating in NJ BRC? 

When you participate in BRC you are not required to ride with a permit, once you complete the program and pass the tests you are granted the endorsement. Applying without completing the BRC requires you to have a motorcycle permit for a minimum of 20 days and there are several restrictions you must abide by while riding during that time. Examples of those restrictions are riding half an hour before sunset to half an hour before sun rise, carrying passengers or riding on state toll roads.  

Completing BRC also waives the requirement of passing a knowledge test and a road test when applying for your endorsement as long as you have passed those when completing your course. 

What Documents Do I need to Apply for a Motorcycle Endorsement in NJ? 

To obtain a motorcycle endorsement you will need the following documents: 

  1. Stamped waiver form and completion card, if you completed BRC. 
  2. 6 points of ID
  3. Parental consent if applicant is under 18 years of age
  4. Money to pay the associated fees. You should check the NJMVC for the latest fee amounts to make sure you are prepared to pay the correct amount. 

What does 6 points of ID mean? 

In New Jersey we use a point system to determine the validity of a document. When applying for legal documents such as a motorcycle endorsement you need to have official documents that equal 6 points per NJMVC’s point system

For example, the following documents would equal 6 points per NJ’s system: 

  1. Electronically verifiable social security number = 1 point 
  2. Utility or credit card bill with your address on it that is not more than 90 days old = 1 point 
  3. An original copy or certified copy of your birth certificate = 4 points 

Do I have to have a NJ Driver’s License to Get a Motorcycle License? 

No, you can apply for a motorcycle license without having a NJ driver’s license. All applicants are required to drive with a motorcycle permit if they are applying without first having a driver’s license. This requirement is not waived by completing a basic rider course. 

Am I Required to have Motorcycle Insurance in NJ? 

Yes, in order to operate a motorcycle in NJ you must have it insured. New Jersey’s minimum motorcycle insurance requirements are:

  • $15,000 per person,
  • $30,000 per accident,
  • $5,000 property damage coverage 

It should be noted these are just the state’s minimum requirements and to properly protect yourself you should get the highest possible limits that you can afford. Most insurance companies offer up to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident maximum coverage. 

NJ Safe Motorcycle Practices 

When legally and safely operating your motorcycle it can be such a time of joy and relaxation. The following are a few tips that you can incorporate into your routine when riding your motorcycle that can help keep you safe. 

  1. Drive Defensively – you cannot predict or prevent other motorists from behaving erratically but you can always keep an escape route planned out. Always assume other drivers cannot see you and have a plan B in mind. 
  2. Be Seen – be aware of blind spots and do your best to avoid them and do not linger in them. If possible wear bright clothes that will draw attention to you to help you be more visible. 
  3. Keep Adequate Space – always use the “2 second rule” or “4 second rule” with vehicles in front of you. Allowing additional space between you and other drivers will give you a buffer and allow you more time to react to any issues that arise. 
  4. Don’t Slam on Brakes – sudden braking can cause you to lose control with the abrupt stopping/slowing. Always allow enough space between you and other vehicles that you are not put in a position to have to suddenly slam on brakes brake. 
  5. Avoid gravel or wet roads – if at all possible avoid driving your motorcycle on gravel and wet roads. These types of conditions can be hazardous and cause you to lose traction between the road and your tires and cause a crash. 
  6. Never Drink and Ride – this should be a given, you should never operate a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or any other medication or drug. 
  7. Avoid Riding Tired – riding tired can be almost as hazardous as riding under the influence of an impairing substance. When you are tired your judgement is imparied and your reaction time can be slowed which could be fatal to you and those around you. 

Even if you follow all these tips to the letter sometimes things happen that are completely out of your control. If this happens and you are involved in a motorcycle crash it is very important you consult an attorney that can help you get the full value of your claim. Our motorcycle accident lawyers at Costello have years of experience and are happy to consult with you about your potential motorcycle accident lawsuit.  If you have additional questions about motorcycle laws give us a call and we will be happy to try and answer your questions! 

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.

Chris Costello, ESQ.

Chris Costello, ESQ.

Chris handles matters in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is an active member of the New Jersey Association for Justice as well as the Burlington County Bar Association. As a Burlington County personal injury lawyer, Mr. Costello has served as chairman of the Burlington County Bar Association Personal Injury Committee and lectured on topics related to auto accidents and insurance law.
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