point of view photo of a motorcycle rider on an open highway in green mountainous terrain

Risks of Unlicensed Motorcycle Operation?

Motorcycles are a passion to many people. Unfortunately, many motorcycle drivers don’t have a license and still use their vehicle. This has many risks for themselves as well as others. In this article, we’ll look at all the risks and implications of unlicensed motorcycle driving. 

Safety Risks of Unlicensed Motorcycle Riding

Motorcycle riders are the most vulnerable drivers on the road. It takes training and experience to be able to ride a motorcycle safely, and even then, the risk of an accident becoming lethal is much higher than for a car driver. To put things into perspective, in 2020 alone, there were 82,528 motorcycle injuries in the United States. Plus, there were 5,579 deadly accidents in that same year. 

Those numbers indicate the dangers of driving a motorcycle on its own. Now consider that 36% of drivers involved in fatal motorcycle accidents were unlicensed. All of this means that driving without proper training and endorsement is a terrible idea that could lead to death. And if the accident is not fatal, then you could get seriously injured and even disabled in some capacity.

Legal Consequences of Riding Without a License

Driving a motorcycle without a valid driver’s license or the essential motorcycle endorsement is a serious offense that can result in stiff penalties if caught. In Louisiana, the repercussions include fines and potential jail time, but the consequences don’t stop there.

If a person is pulled over riding without a current Louisiana driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement, an individual could face a hefty fine of up to $500 and a jail term of up to six months. These penalties can escalate for repeat offenders and can leave a lasting mark on one’s criminal record. It’s essential to note that these consequences apply even if a driver’s license has lapsed and the individual is within the 10-day grace period, emphasizing the importance of timely renewal.

If an unlicensed or improperly endorsed motorcyclist causes an accident, the ramifications can be severe. Not only will the individual face fines and potential imprisonment, but they may also find themselves held liable for the serious injuries sustained by other parties involved in the accident.

Charges such as vehicular homicide and negligent injury await those responsible for such accidents. The severity of these penalties depends on the seriousness of the crash.

Why Driving a Motorcycle Without a License is Dangerous

Unlicensed motorcyclists simply lack the necessary skills and knowledge to operate a motorcycle safely, leading to a higher risk of accidents. Additionally, without a license, motorcyclists miss out on vital training that emphasizes defensive driving and the ability to anticipate and react to potential hazards on the road. This lack of training significantly reduces their ability to handle emergency situations, increasing the likelihood of accidents and injuries. And many times, a lack of knowledge of the consequences can result in reckless driving.

Plus, unlike cars, motorcycles provide no head injury protection to the rider or passenger, and ejection from the motorcycle is a common injury pathway. Moreover, motorcycles lack the crashworthiness and occupant protection characteristics of automobiles. The absence of features like door beams, a roof, airbags, and seat belts, combined with the instability of two wheels, makes motorcycles more susceptible to accidents and severe injuries. In many cases, motorcycle accidents involve untrained or unlicensed drivers, adding to the complexity of these incidents. 

Challenges for the Injured Party

For individuals who find themselves on the unfortunate receiving end of an accident involving an unlicensed motorcyclist, additional challenges arise. Unlicensed drivers, including motorcyclists, may lack adequate insurance coverage, leaving injured parties struggling to receive compensation for their injuries and damages. Louisiana has an estimated 11.7% of uninsured motorists, making it vital for victims to explore alternative avenues for compensation.

If you’ve been injured in an accident involving an unlicensed or uninsured motorcyclist, seeking legal assistance is going to be key. Knowledgeable attorneys can explore other means of pursuing compensation. For example, they can look at your own insurance to identify possible coverage options, and in many cases, these professionals can also find third parties who might share liability. This could expand your scope of potential compensation.

Ensuring Safety and Compliance

To avoid endangering yourself and others on the road, obtaining a motorcycle endorsement is not only a legal requirement but a necessity. The process of obtaining an endorsement is relatively straightforward and involves:

Taking a Vision Test. Ensuring your vision meets the necessary standards for safe driving.

Passing a Written Exam. Demonstrating your knowledge of the rules of the road and safe motorcycle operation.

Performing a Road Skills Test. Displaying your ability to handle a motorcycle safely in real-world scenarios.

Paying an $18 Fee. Covering the administrative costs associated with obtaining the endorsement.

Additionally, for individuals concerned about gaining adequate practice before the endorsement, several options are available. Apart from practicing on private property, similar to how one would practice driving a car, enrolling in the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections’ Motorcycle Safety, Awareness, and Operator Training Program is highly recommended.

This program offers a safe environment for practice and also serves as a valuable educational experience. Successful completion of this program can be used to waive the written and road skills tests.

Get Legal Assistance

Unlicensed motorcycle driver accidents are more complicated than regular accidents when it comes to victim compensation. This comes from the fact that unlicensed drivers are also uninsured. So, it could be confusing to some to know how to get the compensation they deserve for their damages. So if you want the best chance, it is highly recommended to get assistance from an expert motorcycle accident lawyer. Someone who has seen these types of cases played out in the past can recommend the best course of action. Without that experience, an unseasoned attorney could potentially risk your compensation. Morris and Dewett is a law firm with a team of expert attorneys ready to help you tackle this unfortunate challenge. Contact us today to get a consultation. 


Forbes. Motorcycle accident statistics.

Insurance Information Institute. Facts + Statistics: Uninsured motorists.

Morris & Dewett provides this information to the public for general education and interest. The firm does not represent clients in every topic discussed in legal & injury news. The information is curated and produced based on trends in law, governance, and society to present relevant issues to the general public. Every effort is made to provide accurate information. Do not make any decision solely based on the information provided, please seek relevant counsel for each topic area. Consult an attorney before making any legal decision, consult a doctor before making any medical decision, and consult a financial advisor before making any fiscal decision. If you have any legal needs that we can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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