How to Get a Motorcycle License in New York

Zutobi
by Zutobi · Updated Mar 31, 2022

Riding a motorcycle through New York state is an exhilarating experience. Motorcycling is also a very economical and convenient way to travel, whether you’re commuting to school or work, making a run to the grocery store, or enjoying a day trip to Niagara Falls State Park.

So, are you ready to start the process of getting a NY motorcycle license? You’ll need to complete quite a few steps, but this guide will walk you through everything you need to know, whether you’re a teen or an adult.

License Types

First of all, you’re probably curious as to what types of licenses New York offers to residents.

  • Class D Operator’s License: Class D is the usual driver’s license that allows you to operate most passenger vehicles/trucks, in addition to mopeds.
  • Class DJ Junior Operator’s License: This is essentially the restricted version of the Class D license that is issued to teens.
  • Class M Motorcycle License: You’ll need a Class M license to ride a motorcycle.
  • Class MJ Junior Motorcycle License: This junior version is restricted and issued to teens aged 16-17.

Driver and motorcycle licenses can be combined. For example, you may be issued a Class DM license that is both a motorcycle and vehicle license.

For all licenses and permits, you have three ID options: Standard, Enhanced, and Real ID. Different documentation is required for each, so you’ll want to determine which ID you should get before making a trip to the DMV.

Motorcycle License Requirements in New York

Before getting a motorcycle license, you’ll need to get a permit. In New York, you can get a motorcycle permit as soon as you turn 16. Note that, if you choose to get your permit as a minor, you’ll be subject to additional restrictions and requirements.

Finally, if you want to apply for a Class D operator’s license and a Class M motorcycle license at the same time, apply for the vehicle license first. You’ll be issued a combination permit.

How to Get a Motorcycle in New York

Step 1 – Apply for a Motorcycle Permit

Before you can get a NY motorcycle permit, you’ll be required to pass a permit test online at home or at the DMV. The information on this test is based on the information provided in the New York Operator’s Manual.

Application

If you meet the minimum requirements and feel prepared, it’s time to think about your application. The easiest is to start your application online. Create an account, give your name, and select what type of license you’d like to get. Then provide scanned images of the required documentation. After you confirm your application, you’ll receive a link to the permit test. You must start the test within 15 minutes, so don’t complete your application until you’re ready to take the test.

You have the option to apply at the DMV as well. Just bring your application form and the required documents to a nearby location. At the DMV, you’re required to present a number of items before you can take the test and get your motorcycle permit:

You’ll also need to pay an application fee.

Knowledge Test

After applying, it’s time to take your written knowledge test, which contains 20 multiple-choice questions. You may take it at home after applying online. Minors need to be supervised during the test by a parent or guardian.

To pass the test, you need to get at least 80% correct; with at least 50% of the road sign questions correct and 60% of the motorcycle questions correct.

If you fail, you can retake the test after six hours. However, you will need to start your application over again.

Finish Application at the DMV

If you applied online, you’ll receive a link by email after passing your test, use this link to make a reservation at the DMV. If you choose to apply at the DMV, you can simply finish the process after you’re done with the test.

The final steps include showing your original documentation, paying the required fee, and having your picture taken.

  • If you took the knowledge test at home and you’re a minor, the adult who supervised you must sign the Parent/Guardian Certification Form in front of a DMV representative.
  • If you’re an adult and you took the test at home, you’ll sign the Online Permit Test Attestation at the DMV, also in the presence of a DMV representative.

After all that is done, you’ll be issued a temporary permit. Your permanent NY motorcycle permit will arrive in the mail within the next few weeks.

Step 2 – Follow Any Restrictions

During the permit stage of the licensing process, New York requires new riders to follow certain restrictions. Make sure you follow these requirements carefully – they’re enforced to help keep new motorcyclists safe:

  • You must be supervised by a licensed motorcyclist aged 21 or older. This supervisor must remain within a fourth of a mile of you at all times.
  • Avoid riding in prohibited areas.

If you hold a combination permit, you must also follow all the restrictions for a vehicle learner’s permit. If you don’t hold a driver’s license or permit, you’re required to complete an approved driver’s education program or other pre-licensing program before taking the skills test.

It’s recommended that you practice riding for at least 30 hours (with 10 hours in medium to heavy traffic) before taking the skills test.

Additionally, taking the New York Motorcycle Safety Program is a great way for beginners to learn to ride and hone their skills. Though the safety program isn’t required, you’ll have the option to take the road test within the program. This will waive the DMV skills test.

Step 3 – Take the Motorcycle Skills Test

You can schedule your motorcycle skills test here when you’re ready to take it. During the test, you’ll be graded by a qualified examiner on many different factors.

Make sure that you:

  • Know your motorcycle and your own limits.
  • Can properly and safely turn, accelerate, and brake.
  • Can communicate with other road users.
  • Are able to adjust to various traffic situations.
  • Know how to quickly stop, swerve, and turn.
  • Are able to make important decisions and execute them.

You’ll also be graded on your ability to use the appropriate speed and path for maneuvers, as well as overall control.

If you pass your motorcycle skills test, you’ll immediately be issued an unrestricted NY motorcycle license. If you fail, you’ll need to reschedule and retake the test.

Getting a Motorcycle License if You’re Over 18

The application process for riders over 18 years old is outlined below.

  • Apply online or at the driver licensing office.
  • Take the knowledge test at home or at the DMV.
  • Show required documentation at the DMV. Sign the Online Permit Test Attestation if you took the written test at home.
  • Pay the fee and have your picture taken.
  • Schedule and take the motorcycle skills test.

That’s It!

That’s everything you need to know about getting a motorcycle license in New York! While it may seem like a daunting process, take one step at a time. Also, make an effort to prepare for your tests; not only will proper preparation help you pass tests with ease, but it will also lock crucial information into your memory, helping you become a safer motorcyclist.

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