Test yourself on how many of the following Arkansas motorcycle laws you already know. Like many things in life, when it comes to highway safety, knowledge is power. Equip yourself with the resources you need to be the safest rider you can be.
Summary of Arkansas Motorcycle Laws
Here are the main points you need to know about Arkansas motorcycle laws. We’ll explore these laws in more detail below.
- Riders under the age of 21 must wear a helmet.
- Riders over 21 have the choice to wear a helmet or not.
- All riders must wear eye protection.
- Daytime headlights and taillights are required for all riders.
- Riders must carry a Class M license to operate a motorcycle on public roadways.
- You must be 16 or older to acquire a Class M license.
- You must be 14 to acquire a Class MD license with limited riding privileges.
- No passengers may be under the age of 8.
- No more than two people may ride on a motorcycle at the same time.
- Motorcycle operators must hold at least the minimum liability insurance coverage.
- Drunk driving laws are the same for motorcycles and cars—a BAC over 0.08 is above the limit.
Following Arkansas motorcycle laws can help you prevent (and stay safe in the case of) a collision. But even if you follow the rules, it doesn’t mean the drivers of other vehicles always do. If you are a motorcyclist who was injured through the negligent actions of someone else, please contact McMath Woods P.A. to schedule a case consultation with a personal injury lawyer experienced in Arkansas motorcycle accident law.
Arkansas Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Some states hold what are called “universal helmet laws,” meaning that all riders and passengers are required to wear a helmet. Arkansas is not one of those states. Only individuals under the age of 21 are required to wear protective headgear. Since 1997, the year our state’s mandatory helmet law was repealed, adults over 21 have been allowed by law to make an individual choice regarding the use of a helmet.
Whether or not state law mandates the use of protective headgear, wearing a helmet is always the best choice. There is no denying that helmets save lives.
A study conducted of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences trauma registry examined crash, fatality, and injury rates before and after the repeal of Arkansas’ universal helmet law. It was discovered that non-helmeted deaths at the scene of the motorcycle crash increased from 39.6% to 75.5% following the law’s repeal. Additionally, the study found that overall injury rates, the incidence of severe head and neck injuries, and cost of medical care following a motorcycle crash all substantially increased once adult helmet use was no longer required by law.
Other Protective Gear for Motorcyclists
It is required for all motorcyclists to wear protective eyewear while riding on public roads in Arkansas. Nuisances like insects, pebbles, rain, dust, and fragments thrown up from the road surface can be an annoyance at best and a source of injury (or even fatality) at worst. Anyone who has gotten a bug in the eye at 65 mph knows that even the tiniest object is enough to cause a rider to lose control of their bike.
The Arkansas Department of Public Safety advises that eye protection, whether in the form of goggles, glasses, or a face shield, must be:
- Fastened securely
- Able to provide a clear view in all directions
- Free from scratches
- Resistant to penetration
- Able to allow air to pass through (to avoid fogging)
- Roomy enough to allow the wearer to wear glasses if needed
While the law in Arkansas only mandates the use of protective eyewear, it is highly recommended that riders invest in other personal protection gear to wear while riding. Clothing items like those listed below are essential in protecting riders against some of the most injurious aspects of riding—heat, cold, debris, wind, dust, weather, hot motorcycle parts, and unforgiving road surfaces.
- Leather (or a similar synthetic material) jacket and long pants
- Boots or shoes that cover the ankle and have slip-resistant tread
- Durable gloves with a strong grip
- Hearing protection that reduces noise but still allows for sounds like sirens and horns to reach the rider
Age and Licensing Requirements for Arkansas Motorcycle Riders
The minimum age at which you can operate a motorcycle in Arkansas is 14. Individuals ages 14 and 15 are eligible to apply for a Class MD license, a restricted license which authorizes the licensee to operate a motor-driven cycle that displaces 250 cubic centimeters (250 CC) or less. If the applicant successfully meets the requirements, the permit will be issued. It is valid for one year after its issuance. The requirements in Arkansas to obtain a Class MD license are to be at least 14 years old and:
- Pass a knowledge exam for a driver’s license (no skills test required)
- Pass a motorcycle knowledge exam
- Pass a vision test
- Pass a motorcycle skills exam
Beginning one month past their 16th birthday, a person becomes eligible for an M license, which is a non-restricted license that allows the licensee to operate a motorcycle on public roadways in Arkansas. To obtain a Class M license, an individual must be 16 and one month or older, have previously possessed an instruction permit, and:
- Pass a knowledge exam for a driver’s license
- Pass a motorcycle knowledge exam
- Pass a vision test
- Pass a motorcycle skills exam (can be waived with successful completion of a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Riders Course)
Arkansas Motorcycle Insurance Coverage Laws
As a “no fault” auto insurance state, Arkansas law requires that motorcycle owners carry liability insurance coverage of at least the following minimum amounts:
- $25,000 for death or bodily injury
- $50,000 for death or bodily injury to two or more individuals
- $25,000 for property damage
These are merely the state-mandated minimum requirements. Many riders wisely opt to extend their coverage by investing in higher minimums, motorcycle collision coverage, uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage, and other more comprehensive insurance packages.
Arkansas Drunk Driving Laws for Motorcyclists
In Arkansas, as in many states, motorcyclists must follow the same sobriety laws that drivers of other motor vehicles are required to follow. If your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.08 or higher, you can be charged with a riding under the influence or riding while intoxicated offense. A rider under the age of 21 can be charged with a criminal offense even if their BAC is only 0.02 or greater.
These charges are not reserved for alcohol use alone. It is also unlawful to operate a motorcycle while under the influence of other substances, including marijuana, controlled substances, illegal drugs, or a combination of alcohol and illicit and/or prescription drugs. Being intoxicated means that a motorist is impaired to the degree that “the driver’s reactions, motor skills, and judgment are substantially altered,” putting the motorist and others in “clear and substantial danger.”
For violating laws that prohibit operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a motorcyclist may face penalties including loss of driving privileges, suspended or revoked license, fines, public service work, mandatory attendance to alcohol education and treatment programs, and jail time.
What Happens if You’re Injured While Riding a Motorcycle in Arkansas?
If you’re injured while riding a motorcycle in Arkansas and your crash was caused because another motorist was reckless, distracted, intoxicated, or otherwise negligent behind the wheel, you may be able to hold them liable and recover your losses through a personal injury claim. This legal action remedies injustice by requiring the at-fault party to bear financial responsibility for the victim’s losses.
To learn more about your rights and legal options as an injured Arkansas motorcyclist, contact our law office today. A skilled and experienced motorcycle accident attorney is available to answer your questions. Contact us by phone or via our online contact form to begin seeking recovery after injury.