NYS Laws Regulating Motorcycles

Selected New York State Laws Regulating Motorcycles and Motorcycle Operation

Safety Helmet: Required. Helmets must meet the requirements set forth in section 571.218 of the federal motor vehicle safety standards. It is unlawful to sell a helmet which is not in compliance.

Eye Protection: Goggles or a face shield of a type approved by the commissioner are required. It is unlawful to sell eye protection which is not in compliance.

Rear View Mirror: One is required.

Helmet Speakers: Single earphone only.

Passenger Seat: Required if carrying a passenger.

Passenger Footrest: Required if carrying a passenger.

Muffler: Required. For motorcycles manufactured after 1979, no modification of exhaust system that increases noise beyond the exhaust system originally installed is permitted.

Handlebar Height: Handle bars cannot be more than 15 inches higher than the seat.

Lights: The following are required: Headlight; taillight; stop lamp; license plate lamp; at least one red reflector on the rear; and directional signals if the motorcycle was originally equipped with directional signals or is a 1985 or newer model.

Daytime Use of Headlight: Required by law. Modulating headlights are permitted by Federal law 49CFR Section 571.108, paragraph S7.9.4 (modulating headlights do not turn on and off, which is illegal, they only vary power).

Warning Device: A horn or other warning device is required.

Passenger Seat: A passenger seat is required only if a passenger is carried.

Safety Inspection: Required annually

Motorcycles Operating on Roadway With Traffic Lanes:
• All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle or motorcycle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. (§ 1252 of the N.Y.S. V.T.L.)
• Motorcycles are permitted to be operated two abreast in a single lane.
• The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.
• No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.