MSB Frequently Asked Questions


   1. What is a motorcycle operator training course and where can I take it?

There are three types of training courses; courses accepted for licensing, Advanced and Specialized. If you have taken a basic or intermediate course in another state that is not listed below, please contact our office to verify it will be accepted in Texas for licensing.

There are over 200 course locations in Texas. To get pricing and schedules or to register for a course in your area, select "TRAINING LOCATIONS" from the main menu then search by County, City or Type of Training.

Basic
Accepted for licensing
Cost varies per location; motorcycles and helmets provided; course required for all first time class M applicants; 15 - 17 year olds must show proof of successful completion of classroom portion of Driver Education, permit or license; proof of identity required if 18 years old or over; course is 15 hours over 2 or 3 days depending on specific location's schedule; completion certificate (MSB-8) will waive DPS written test for all ages and DPS on-road test if 18yrs old or older and have an unrestricted class A, B or C license; completion certificate may offer discount on motorcycle insurance.

Intermediate
Accepted for licensing
Cost varies per location; you must bring your own motorcycle and helmet; must be 18 years old or over; held in 8 hours in one day; completion certificate (MSB-8) will waive DPS written test for all ages and DPS on-road test if you are 18yrs old or older and have an unrestricted class A, B or C license; completion certificate may offer discount on motorcycle insurance. The MSB-8 completion card is valid 24 months for licensing.

Advanced
These are Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and Harley-Davidson (H-D) advanced courses; cost varies per location; you must bring your own motorcycle and helmet; must have an unrestricted class M license; held in 6-8 hours in one day; completion certificate may offer discount on motorcycle insurance; completion certificate (MSB-8) meets defensive driving requirements (with court permission). Maximum charge of $125 for the MSF Basic RiderCourse2; all other courses in this category do not have a maximum charge. These courses are not accepted for licensing.

Specialized
These are non-MSF and H-D courses; cost varies per location and type of training. To get pricing and schedules or to register for a course in your area, select "TRAINING LOCATIONS" from the main menu then search by Type of Training and select a specific type of training or Specialized Training. These courses are not accepted for licensing.


   2. Is a motorcycle operator training course required for a motorcycle license?

Yes, proof of successful completion of Department-approved Basic or Intermediate motorcycle operator training course (MSB-8) is required for licensing. This applies to all ages or if you held a motorcycle license which has since lapsed. If you have a motorcycle with a “J” or “K” restriction you may take the motorcycle on-cycle skill test at your local Driver License office instead of taking a training course. Please see answer to question #1 for which courses are accepted for licensing. For exact verbiage of the statute, visit Texas Transportation Code and read §521.148

The MSB-8 completion card is valid 24 months for licensing. Driver License offices will not accept completion cards issued prior to November 9, 2012. If you have taken the course prior to that date and have not yet added the class M to your license, you will need to take the course again.


   3. How do I get a motorcycle license?

Visit the Driver License page to Apply for a Motorcycle License. For additional information, visit the Customer Service page or call (512) 424-2600.

Below is an overview of the steps required. This does not include Driver License proof of identity and cost, please contact your local Driver License office for more details.

First time license of any class

  • motorcycle safety course
  • car written test; only test with questions about signs and rules of the road
  • motorcycle road test; since no car road test taken, proof of driving competency must be shown
  • Driver Education required for 15‐17 year olds; Adult Driver Education required for 18‐24 year olds

Adding motorcycle license to car permit

  • motorcycle safety course
  • motorcycle road test; since no car road test taken, proof of driving competency must be shown

Adding motorcycle license to car license

  • motorcycle safety course
  • motorcycle road test if under 18; DL office may waive motorcycle road test if 18 or over

Note: applicants requesting Moped restriction (K) are not exempt from the motorcycle written test at DL office. Read the Motorcycle Operator’s Manual to study for test.


   4. What is required to pass the driver license office on-cycle skill test?

Taken from page 50 of the Motorcycle Owner’s Manual (PDF)

Basic vehicle control and crash avoidance skills are included in on-cycle test to determine your ability to handle normal and hazardous traffic situations.

You may be tested for your ability to:

  • Know your motorcycle and your riding limits.
  • Accelerate, brake, and turn safely.
  • See, be seen and communicate with others.
  • Adjust speed and position to the traffic situation.
  • Stop, turn and swerve quickly.
  • Make critical decisions and carry them out.

Examiners may score on factors related to safety such as:

  • Selecting safe speeds to perform maneuvers.
  • Choosing the correct path and staying within boundaries.
  • Completing normal and quick stops.
  • Completing normal and quick turns, or swerves.

For Driver License questions, visit the Customer Service page or call (512) 424-2600.


   5. Can I add the motorcycle classification to my Texas license if I'm currently out of state?

Texas allows residents to add the class M to their existing license while out of state by taking a Department approved course in any state where it's offered. Visit the Texas DPS Driver License website and scroll down to Texas Drivers Living Out-of-State for more information.

To check the status on submitted documents, go to Where’s my license or ID? If your Driver License does not show as being processed or mailed, request an update from Customer Service.

To find a course near you, visit MSF's website and select your state.


   6. Can I ride in Texas with a license from another state/country?

If you are visiting Texas, you may ride with an out of state license, however if your state does not require a motorcycle license for your specific vehicle then be sure to have written proof (such as a letter from your state licensing office) in case asked by an officer. Please be sure to familiarize yourself with our state's laws, for motorcycles, riders and passengers by searching the Texas Transportation Code for all motorcycle-related laws.

If you have a license from another country with a motorcycle endorsement, it will depend on the reciprocity the US has with your country. Visit the website below for more information as related to your country. For more information, contact the DPS License Issuance Bureau at (512) 424-5089.

Texas Administrative Code

If you are seeking reciprocity for residency or have additional Driver License questions, visit the Customer Service page or call (512) 424-2600.


   7. Do I need a license for a scooter?

A scooter is not a legal vehicle classification so it will need to be registered as either a moped or motorcycle and you will be required to have a class M license. By legal definition a moped must meet all three of the following criteria and be on our online Certified Moped List (see link below) prior to registration. If the moped in question meets the criteria, but is not on our list it may be added by following the directions on our website for submitting a Moped Affidavit (see link below). If a two-wheeled vehicle does not meet all three criteria it must be registered as a motorcycle.

  • cannot attain a speed more than 30 miles per hour
  • has a piston displacement of 50 cubic centimeters or less and
  • does not require the operator to shift gears

Certified Moped List (PDF)
Moped Affidavit (PDF)
Vehicle Descriptions & Requirements chart (PDF)


   8. Can I get a replacement card for the motorcycle training course?

Yes, your Training Provider is responsible for replacing your certificate up to 3 years from the date of your course; they may charge a small fee.

The MSB-8 completion card is valid 24 months for licensing for Basic or Intermediate courses. Driver License offices will not accept completion cards issued prior to November 9, 2012. If you have taken the course prior to that date and have not yet added the class M to your license, you will need to take the course again.

If it has been more than 3 years or the Training Provider is no longer in business, please contact the Motorcycle Safety Unit at (512) 424-2021.


   9. Can a motorcycle safety course be used for ticket dismissal?

Yes, you may take any Department-approved course listed on our website under Training Locations with prior court approval.

The law states that a judge may require you to successfully complete a driving safety course approved by the Texas Education Agency or a course under the motorcycle operator training and safety program approved by the designated state agency under Chapter 662, Transportation Code.

Texas Transportation Code
Select "Texas Statues" then "Code of Criminal Procedure"
§45.0511 (Chapter 45 Justice and Municipal Courts, Article 45.0511 Driving Safety or Motorcycle Operator Course Dismissal Procedures)


   10. What are headlight modulators and are they legal in Texas?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines a headlight modulator as the wiring of either the upper or lower beam to vary from its maximum intensity to a lesser intensity. For more information please read the Code of Federal Regulations 571.108(9.4).

There's nothing specific in the Texas Transportation Code (TRC) regarding the use of headlight modulators as defined by NHTSA. Check local ordinances pertaining to modulator use.


   11. Can I add extra lights on my motorcycle?

It is not the function of the Department of Public Safety to provide legal interpretations of the Texas Transportation Code, nor is it the role of anyone in the department to dispense legal advice even regarding the traffic laws of the state.  The department enforces state traffic law as its members understand it, and if necessary, issue citations for violations, all which are subject to review by courts of law.

Section §547.004 of the Texas Transportation Code prohibits the operation of a vehicle that is unsafe, not equipped in compliance, with the law, or equipped in a prohibited manner by the Transportation Code.  Some would take this to mean that if the lamp is not required under Texas law, nor fits an exception, then it is prohibited, particularly if it can be shown as a distraction to other drivers or a driving hazard. Motorcycle lighting requirements can be found in §547.801 and the general statutory restriction on vehicle lighting is §547.305, but neither specifically addresses after-market lighting.  Only DOT approved equipment properly installed is definitely compliant with state and federal regulations, and that much add-on equipment is sold for off-road or show use only and is not necessarily legal for highway use.

Section §547.3215 adopts the federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) for lighting (49 CFR 571.108) for all lighting and associated equipment, unless specifically prohibited by the code.  FMVSS #108 prohibits anything that interferes with or obscures federal required lighting equipment.  However it does not prohibit, nor regulate, after-market lighting equipment not meant to replace original equipment manufacturer (OEM) lighting.  After-market lighting that is not DOT approved and used to replace original lighting may be illegal under Texas law if the equipment violates any provision of Chapter 547, particularly Subchapters D and E.
Texas Transportation Code


   12. What is the helmet law in Texas?

For more information on the helmet law and exemptions, visit Motorcycle Helmet Exemptions.


   13. What are the laws regarding motorcycle passengers?

A passenger must be at least five years old. If the passenger is under 21 years old they must wear a helmet. If the passenger is 21 years old or older they may be exempt from wearing a helmet if they meet the exemption requirements.

For more information on passengers, visit: Texas Transportation Code and read Chapter 545 Section 416.

For more information on the helmet law and exemptions, visit: Texas Transportation Code and read Chapter 661 Section 003.

*Malorie’s Law passed in 2013 which states that if a motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person then it must be equipped with footrests and handholds for use by the passenger.


   14. What is checked during motorcycle inspections?

Visit the DPS Vehicle Inspection website for a list of items and what Inspectors use to determine a pass/fail.

*Malorie’s Law passed in 2013 which states that if a motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person then it must be equipped with footrests and handholds for use by the passenger.

Note: If you have any additional questions or concerns about inspection items, go to the Vehicle Inspection Contact Us page.


   15. Does Texas have a law regarding handlebar height?

Yes, it is measured from the lowest part of the seat (saddle) to the highest part of the handlebars (grips). Visit the DPS Vehicle Inspection website for more information.

Rules and Regulations Manuals
Chapter 4 Inspection Procedures
Chapter 04.20.00 Details of Inspection
Select 20.25 Steering then read 20.25(2)(j)

Note: If you have any additional questions or concerns about inspection items, go to the Vehicle Inspection Contact Us page.


   16. Are turn signals required for motorcycles?

No, turn signals are not required on motorcycles and are not a pass/fail item of inspection (working or non-working). Visit the DPS Vehicle Inspection website for more information.

Rules and Regulations Manuals
Chapter 4 Inspection Procedures
Chapter 04.20.00 Details of Inspection
Select 20.29 Turn Signal Lamps then read 20.29(3) 6th paragraph

Note: If you have any additional questions or concerns about inspection items, go to the Vehicle Inspection Contact Us page.


   17. I want to build my own motorcycle, how do I register it?

Please contact Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Vehicle Title and Registration (VTR) at 512-465-3000 for the necessary forms and inspections required; see attached PDF document from DMV.


   18. Can I cross an intersection on a red light if my bike doesn't trigger the signal to change?

No, there are no provisions in Texas law that will allow any non-emergency vehicle to bypass a red light. You will need to turn or change lanes legally when safe then find another route. As stated in Texas Transportation Code (TRC) 544.0075 certain traffic-actuated electric traffic-control signals are required to be capable of registering the presence of a motorcycle.
Texas Transportation Code


   19. Can I ride my motorcycle between cars in traffic?

The law doesn't specifically say one way or the other, but there are several statutes that may come to bear depending upon the circumstances, i.e. right of way, obligation to drive in a single lane, signal intention, passing with safety, etc. Motorcycles are considered equally as cars regarding traffic laws, so the single lane, signal intention and other statutes in the Transportation Code could come in to play.

The main statute that makes "lane splitting" illegal is Transportation Code Section 545.060, entitled "Driving on Roadway Laned for Traffic."

  • An operator on a roadway divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic:
    • shall drive as nearly practical entirely within a single lane; and
    • may not move from the lane unless that movement can be made safely.

Texas Transportation Code