Laws Every Motorcycle Rider in Indiana Needs to Know

Posted on behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak

on May 24, 2017

. Updated on May 3, 2023


motorcycles on open roadThere are several laws governing the use of motorcycles on Indiana roadways, from laws on motorcycle licenses, headlights and other equipment to regulations on wearing a helmet while riding.

Below, our Indiana motorcycle accident attorneys review what you need to know about Indiana motorcycle laws before your next ride.

Violating these laws could strip you of your motorcycle-riding privileges and possibly increase your chances of being involved in a motorcycle crash. These accidents are much more likely to lead to severe injuries because there is nothing between you and the open road.

Required Equipment

Like any other vehicle, motorcycles need to have certain features or pieces of equipment to ensure the safety of riders and those in other vehicles sharing the roadway.

Article 19 of Title 9 of the Indiana Code (IC) specifies all required equipment for motorcycles on Indiana roadways, including:


Motorcycles must have one brake in good working order that can be operated by hand or foot, according to IC 9-19-3-2.

Head Lamps

Under IC 9-19-6-3, motorcycles manufactured after January 1, 1956 must have one and no more than two head lamps at a height of at least 24 inches and not more than 54 inches, as measured from the center of the lamp.

Under IC 9-19-6-22, head lamps must have sufficient intensity to reveal a person or vehicle at the following distances:

  • 100 feet if the motorcycle is traveling at less than 25 mph
  • 200 feet if the motorcycle is traveling at a minimum speed of 25 mph
  • 30 feet if the motorcycle is traveling at 35 mph

Rear Reflectors

Every motorcycle manufactured after January 1, 1956 must have one reflector placed on the vehicle at least 20 inches but no more than 60 inches from the ground. The reflector must be visible at night from between 100 and 350 feet when it is directly in front of head lamps from another vehicle.

Traffic Regulations

Motorcycles are entitled to the full use of a traffic lane and other vehicles are prohibited from driving in a way that deprives riders of the full use of a lane, according to IC 9-21-10-6.

The law also allows you to ride side-by-side with another motorcycle in a single traffic lane, as long as both riders consent to it.

Other than that, you are required to follow any traffic regulations that apply to traditional motor vehicles, unless the regulation does not expressly apply to motorcycles or motor-driven cycles.

Indiana Motorcycle Helmet Law

Indiana does not require motorcycle riders to wear helmets unless they are less than 18 years old. These riders must wear a helmet that complies with standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) under 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 571.218.

Motorcycle riders under the age of 18 must wear protective glasses, goggles or a transparent face shield as well.

Laws on Motorcycle Licenses

If you are at least 16 and a half years old and want to start riding a motorcycle, you will need to obtain a motorcycle endorsement on your Indiana driver’s license.

To obtain an endorsement you must complete one of the following options:

  • Provide proof you have successfully completed a Ride Safe Indiana approved motorcycle operator education course
  • Pass a motorcycle-riding knowledge exam to obtain a learner’s permit and then pass a motorcycle skills exam

You may also be required to complete a vision screening test.

If you are not 18 years old, you will need a parent or guardian to sign an Agreement of Financial Liability before you can obtain a motorcycle learner’s permit. The agreement means that the parent or guardian will be liable for any injury or damage the motorcycle rider causes while riding the motorcycle.

Motorcycle Operator Safety Education Course

Approved Ride Safe Indiana courses consist of five hours of classroom instruction followed by 10 hours of riding exercises and concluding with a knowledge and skills evaluation. Motorcycles used during the safety education courses are provided free of charge.

Motorcycle Learner’s Permit

If you prefer, you can obtain a motorcycle learner’s permit so you can practice riding a motorcycle before trying to obtain a motorcycle endorsement. You must have a valid driver’s license and pass the motorcycle knowledge test based on the Motorcycle Operator Manual created by Ride Safe Indiana.

If you do not have a valid Indiana driver’s license, you can still obtain a permit by passing the knowledge test and presenting documents proving your identity, residency in Indiana, Social Security number and lawful status.

There are several kinds of documents you can use to prove these things, such an original birth certificate, Social Security Card and a voter registration card.

Riding with a Learner’s Permit

Riders with learner’s permits can only ride from one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset and they are prohibited from carrying passengers. You also must wear a helmet approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Motorcycle learner’s permits are valid for one year. Once your permit expires, you have to apply for a new one to keep riding, unless you have obtained a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license.

Motorcycle-Riding Skills Test

The motorcycle-riding skills test grades riders on their ability to perform the following maneuvers:

  • Turning
  • Changes lanes
  • Braking
  • Stopping
  • Avoiding obstacles
  • Making quick stops
  • Making U-turns
  • Wearing around cones
  • Maintaining control of the bike
  • Starting

If you fail the test, you can take it again the next day. However, if you have a learner’s permit and you fail three tests, you must wait two months to take the test again.

Transferring a Motorcycle Endorsement from Another State

If you already have a motorcycle endorsement from another state, you can transfer it once you pass the motorcycle knowledge test.

Contact Our Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

If you suffer an injury in a motorcycle accident, contact Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak today for a free, no obligation legal consultation.

A personal injury lawyer from our law firm can help you obtain fair compensation for the damages you suffer, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Contact us today for help with your claim.

Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak

Serious Attorneys for Serious Cases