Driving any vehicle without a proper license can result in stiff punishments if caught. In Louisiana, driving a motorcycle without a driver’s license or a motorcycle endorsement could result in fines and jail time. If you are involved in an accident, you could also face liability for injuries you caused on top of the penalties for being unlicensed.
If You’re Pulled Over Without a License
Just like driving a car without a license could land you in hot water, driving a motorcycle without proper paperwork carries the risk of serious legal trouble if caught. In Louisiana, the penalty for driving without a current Louisiana driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement could result in:
- A $500 fine
- Up to six months in jail
The penalties can be greater if this is not your first offense, and the infraction can go on your record. You may also face stiffer judgment if your license was suspended or revoked compared to if you did not have a license at all. If your license lapsed and you have yet to renew it, there is a 10-day grace period.
Because Louisiana does not require a separate license for riding a motorcycle, you may think you can get away with just your driver’s license and forgo the motorcycle endorsement. However, the lack of endorsement is akin to a lack of a license; you are, after all, operating a vehicle you are not authorized to operate, per RS §32:408 and RS §32:402.
If You’re in an Accident with a Motorcyclist Who Doesn’t Have a License
If a motorcyclist is unlicensed or lacks an endorsement and causes an accident, not only will there be fines and potential jail time, but the rider may also find themselves held liable for the other party’s injuries. Louisiana law highlights that an unlicensed person involved in a crash that causes injury or death could face:
- Fines ranging from $500 to $1,000
- Up to six months in jail
- Charges of vehicular homicide if a death occurs
- Charges of negligent injury
The severity of the penalties depends on the severity of the crash, but the worse the injury is to another person, the more you may end up paying. Moreover, even if you did not cause the accident, you will still face the normal consequences for riding a motorcycle without a license on top of dealing with the aftermath of the collision.
Increased Accident Risks for Unlicensed Motorcyclists
An Accident Analysis & Prevention study referenced several risk factors for motorcycle accidents, including:
- Lack of driver training
- Motorcycle licensure
- Risk-taking behaviors
Likewise, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cites lack of experience and failure to understand how to operate a motorcycle as causes for crashes. In fact, it estimates a third of riders killed in crashes lacked proper licensing.
Obtaining a valid driver’s license and being approved for a motorcycle endorsement requires understanding the rules of the road, safe bike handling, defensive driving, and other precautions that can help avoid accidents. Put simply, lack of licensing can equal lack of knowledge, which can be deadly on the road.
If You’re the Injured Party
One of the problems with accidents involving unlicensed drivers, including motorcyclists, is that they may also lack adequate insurance. An estimated 11.7 percent of motorists in Louisiana are uninsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). This does not include inadequate insurance coverage, which may not be enough to pay for your injuries.
If you were injured in an accident involving an unlicensed and/or uninsured motorcyclist, you can reach out to our team at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers. We can explore ways to pursue compensation and help you receive the care you need for your injuries.
How to Obtain a Motorcycle Endorsement
To avoid increased risk for injuring yourself and others, and to save yourself money and time, you can obtain a motorcycle endorsement through the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) by:
- Taking a vision test
- Passing a written exam
- Performing a road skills test
- Paying an $18 fee
The endorsement will be added to your existing Louisiana driver’s license and is renewed each time you renew your license.
Where to Practice to Obtain an Endorsement
If you’re worried about gaining the necessary practice before receiving your endorsement, you have several options. In addition to driving around private property, much like you would when practicing driving a car, you can also enroll in the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections’ Motorcycle Safety, Awareness, and Operator Training Program.
Not only does this class provide a chance to practice, but it also can be used in lieu of the written and road skills tests. Your graduation certificate can be brought to the OMV to waive that part of the requirements.
Learn About Your Legal Options During a Free Case Review with One of Our Attorneys
If you were injured while driving a motorcycle without a license or by an unlicensed motorcyclist, call the team at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers. We can advise you of your legal options and work to pursue compensation for your injuries. Your initial case review is free, so don’t hesitate to call today.