West Virginia Motorcycle Statutes

West Virginia has several statutes that directly relate to motorcyclists, including licensure, inspections, and use of public roads. If you feel that your rights have been violated call us at 1-800-321-8968 and speak with an attorney who practices in West Virginia and is familiar with current West Virginia motorcycle laws.

1; § 17B-1-1(c). Definitions. (edited) Motorcycle. 

Motorcycle. — Every motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding a farm tractor as defined herein, a moped as defined in section five-a, article one, chapter seventeen-c of this code, a snowmobile as defined in section one-mm, article one, chapter seventeen-a of this code and an all-terrain vehicle as defined in section one-ii, article one, chapter seventeen-a of this code;

2; § 17A-10-3a. Special registration of Antique Motorcycles; definition; registration and use.  

(a) The annual registration fee for any antique motor vehicle or motorcycle as defined in this section is two dollars. “Antique motor vehicle” means any motor vehicle which is more than twenty-five years old and is owned solely as a collector’s item. “Antique motorcycle” means any motorcycle which is more than twenty-five years old and is owned solely as a collector’s item.

“Classic motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle which is more than twenty-five years old and is registered pursuant to section three of this article and is used for general transportation.

“Classic motorcycle” means a motorcycle which is more than twenty-five years old and is registered pursuant to section three of this article and is used for general transportation.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in this section, antique motor vehicles or motorcycles may not be used for general transportation but may only be used for:

(1) Participation in club activities, exhibits, tours, parades and similar events;

(2) The purpose of testing their operation, obtaining repairs or maintenance and transportation to and from events as described in subdivision (1); and

(3) Recreational purposes over weekends, beginning on Friday at twelve o’clock noon, and ending on the following Monday at twelve o’clock noon, and on holidays: Provided, That a classic motor vehicle or a classic motorcycle as defined in this section may be registered under the applicable class at the applicable registration fee set forth in section three of this article and may be used for general transportation.

(c) A West Virginia motor vehicle or motorcycle displaying license plates of the same year of issue as the model year of the antique motor vehicle or motorcycle, as authorized in this section, may be used for general transportation purposes if the following conditions are met:

(1) The license plate’s physical condition has been inspected and approved by the Division of Motor Vehicles;

(2) The license plate is registered to the specific motor vehicle or motorcycle by the Division of Motor Vehicles;

(3) The owner of the motor vehicle or motorcycle annually registers the motor vehicle or motorcycle and pays an annual registration fee for the motor vehicle or motorcycle equal to that charged to obtain regular state license plates; and

(4) The motor vehicle or motorcycle passes an annual safety inspection; and

(5) The motor vehicle or motorcycle displays a sticker attached to the license plate, issued by the division, indicating that the motor vehicle or motorcycle may be used for general transportation.

(d) If more than one request is made for license plates having the same number, the division shall accept only the first application.

(e) The commissioner may promulgate rules in accordance with the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a of this code as may be necessary or convenient for the carrying out of the provisions of this section.

3; § 17B-2-7(b). Separate examination and endorsement required to operate a motorcycle. (edited)

(b) The division of motor vehicles shall administer the examination provided for in this section. Any applicant for a license valid for operation of a motorcycle shall be required to successfully complete the motorcycle examination.  The motorcycle examination shall test the applicant’s knowledge of the operation of a motorcycle and of any traffic laws specifically relating to the operation of a motorcycle and shall include an actual demonstration of the ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable control in the operation of a motorcycle. An applicant for a license valid for the operation of only a motorcycle shall be tested as provided in this section and in section seven of this article, but need not demonstrate actual driving ability in any vehicle other than a motorcycle. The examination provided in this section shall not be made a condition upon the renewal of the license of any person under this section. For an applicant who successfully completes the motorcycle examination, upon payment of the required fee, the division shall issue a motorcycle endorsement on the driver’s license of the applicant.  Every person, including those holding a valid driver’s license, is required to take the examination specified in this section to obtain a motorcycle license or endorsement.

4; § 17C-15-44(a). Helmet is required and must meet DOT, Ansi or Snell Standards. 

(a) No person shall operate or be a passenger on any motorcycle or motor-driven cycle unless the person is wearing securely fastened on his or her head by either a neck or chin strap a protective helmet designed to deflect blows, resist penetration and spread impact forces. Any helmet worn by an operator or passenger shall meet the current performance specifications established by the American National Standards Institute Standard, Z 90.1, the United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218 or Snell Safety Standards for Protective Headgear for Vehicle.

5; § 17C-15-44(b). Eye gear, goggles or face shield must comply with  ANSI standards; windshield, if equipped, must comply with DOT and ANSI standards. (edited) 

(b) No person shall operate or be a passenger on any motorcycle or motor-driven cycle unless the person is wearing safety, shatter-resistant eyeglasses (excluding contact lenses), or eyegoggles or face shield that complies with the performance specifications established by the American National Standards Institute for Head, Eye and Respiratory Protection, Z 2.1. In addition, if any motorcycle, motor-driven cycle or moped is equipped with a windshield or windscreen, the windshield or windscreen shall be constructed of safety, shatter-resistant material that complies with the performance specifications established by Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 205 and American National Standards Institute, Safety Glazing Materials for Glazing Motor Vehicles Operated on Land Highways, Standard Z 26.1.

6; § 17C-15-44(c). Handlebar height. 

No person shall operate a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle or moped on which the handlebars or grips are more than fifteen inches higher than the uppermost part of the operator’s seat when the seat is not depressed in any manner

7; § 17C-15-44(d). Operator shall face forward, passengers must have seat and foot footrests; sidecar passenger must be belted.

(d) A person operating a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle or moped shall ride in a seated position facing forward and only upon a permanent operator’s seat attached to the vehicle. No operator shall carry any other person nor shall any other person ride on the vehicle unless the vehicle is designed to carry more than one person, in which event a passenger may ride behind the operator upon the permanent operator’s seat if it is designed for two persons, or upon another seat firmly attached to the vehicle to the rear of the operator’s seat and equipped with footrests designed and located for use by the passenger or in a sidecar firmly attached to the vehicle. No person shall ride side saddle on a seat. An operator may carry as many passengers as there are seats and footrests to accommodate those passengers. Additional passengers may be carried in a factory produced sidecar provided that there is one passenger per seat. Passengers riding in a sidecar shall be restrained by safety belts.

8; § 17B-1-1(c). Rearview mirror required.

(e) Every motorcycle, motor-driven cycle and moped shall be equipped with a rearview mirror affixed to the handlebars or fairings and adjusted so that the operator shall have a clear view of the road and condition of traffic behind him for a distance of at least two hundred feet.

9; § 17C-15-34. Mufflers; prevention of noise, fumes and smoke.

(a) Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise. Such muffler shall be the muffler originally installed by the manufacturer of the vehicle or, if a replacement, the equivalent thereof. No person shall use a muffler cutout, bypass, or similar device upon a motor vehicle on a highway.

(b) The engine and power mechanism of every motor vehicle shall be so equipped and adjusted as to prevent the escape of excessive fumes or smoke.

10; § 17B-15-23. Headlamp lighting equipment on motorcycles. 

The head lamp or head lamps upon every motorcycle, motor- driven cycle and moped may be of the single-beam or multiple-beam type but in either event shall comply with the requirements and limitations as follows:

(1) Every said head lamp or head lamps shall be of sufficient intensity to reveal a person or a vehicle at a distance of not less than one hundred feet when the motorcycle, motor-driven cycle or moped is operated at any speed less than twenty-five miles per hour and at a distance of not less than two hundred feet when it is operated at a speed of twenty-five or more miles per hour.

(2) In the event the motorcycle, motor-driven cycle or moped is equipped with a multiple-beam type head lamp or head lamps the upper beam shall meet the minimum requirements set forth above and shall not exceed the limitations set forth in section twenty (a) of this article and the lowermost beam shall meet the requirements applicable to a lowermost distribution of light as set forth in section twenty (b) of this article.

(3) In the event the motorcycle, motor-driven cycle or moped is equipped with a single-beam lamp or lamps, said lamp or lamps shall be so aimed that when the vehicle is loaded none of the high-intensity portion of light, at a distance of twenty-five feet ahead, shall project higher than the level of the center of the lamp from which it comes.

Note: 17B-15-2 requires headlamps to be on at all times while in operation.

11; § 17C-15-5  Tail lamps 

(a) Every motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer, and any other vehicle which is being drawn at the end of a train of vehicles, shall be equipped with at least one tail lamp mounted on the rear, which, when lighted as hereinbefore required, shall emit a red light plainly visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear, provided that in the case of a train of vehicles only the tail lamp on the rearmost vehicle need actually be seen from the distance specified.

(b) Every tail lamp upon every vehicle shall be located at a height of not more than sixty inches nor less than twenty inches to be measured as set forth in section three (b) of this article.

(c) Either a tail lamp or a separate lamp shall be so constructed and placed as to illuminate with a white light the rear registration plate and render it clearly legible from a distance of fifty feet to the rear. Any tail lamp or tail lamps, together with any separate lamp for illuminating the rear registration plate, shall be so wired as to be lighted whenever the head lamps or auxiliary driving lamps are lighted.

12; § 17C-15-31  Brakes (edited)

Every motorcycle, motor-driven cycle and moped, when operated upon a highway, shall be equipped with at least one brake which may be operated by hand or foot.

§17C-15-19. Additional lighting equipment.

(a) Any motor vehicle may be equipped with not more than two side cowl or fender lamps which shall emit an amber or white light without glare.

(b) Any motor vehicle may be equipped with not more than one running board courtesy lamp on each side thereof which shall emit a white or amber light without glare.

(c) Except for school buses as provided in this subsection, any motor vehicle may be equipped with not more than two back-up lamps either separately or in combination with other lamps, but any such back-up lamp shall not be lighted when the motor vehicle is in forward motion. School buses used for the transportation of school children in this state, whether owned and operated by a county board of education or privately owned and operated under contract with a county board of education, shall be equipped with two back-up lamps, one on each side of the rear door, with white lens or reflectors, capable of lighting the roadway and objects to the rear of the bus for safe backing during darkness, and which, at the option of the county board of education, may each provide fifty candlepower in illumination intensity instead of thirty-two candlepower.