License To Ride

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Did you know that before January 1, 2011, the only criteria for obtaining a California motorcycle learner’s permit was to A) be 15 1/2 years young, and 2) successfully complete a DMV written exam. That’s it. The permit allowed anyone, even 15-1/2-year-old kids, to ride a motorcycle on public streets, excluding highways, riding at night, or carrying a passenger. Other than that, game on!

At the turn of the decade, things changed. California now mandates that anyone under the age of 21 complete a training course at any of the 124 California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) training sites situated throughout the state from Eureka to San Diego. All that is needed to enroll is either a valid driver’s license from any of the 50 states, a California DMV-issued automobile learner’s permit (for the kids), or a California DMV-issued identification card.

Before January, basically a man-boy could obtain his motorcycle learner’s permit by simply passing a written test, then voila, he was off and riding. Who knows if he ever started a motorcycle, let alone ridden one? Now, he has to obtain his automobile learner’s permit first, then complete the CMSP course, pass the written motorcycle learner’s permit exam, and then ride for six months with the limitations listed above. He can then obtain his M1 license after he has satisfied the six-month statute.

While I’m not for adding any more laws to the book, this one makes sense. The age requirement should come down to 18 though, which is plenty old enough to make a decision on whether or not you should take a motorcycle safety course. That’s my only gripe. I know I wouldn’t want my kid riding on the SoCal streets without any training. It’s a crazy world out here. There are a lot of folks in this state that shouldn’t be driving. It’s better to be trained in how to handle sticky situations than not. Log on to for more information and especially visit the site’s FAQ page.

Bye for now