Virginia Motorcycle Statutes
Virginia has several laws and statutes that relate directly to motorcyclists, including licensure, inspections, use of public roads, as well as statutes and laws relating directly to helmets, the use of high occupancy lanes, and more. Use the links below to quickly navigate to the Virginia motorcycle statute that relates to your issue.
If you have a question about any specific motorcycle law in Virginia orfeel that your rights have been violated call us at(855) 529-7433 and speak with one of ourpersonal injury attorneys who practice in Virginia and are familiar with current Virginia motorcycle laws.
On this page, find:
- Use of Highways by Motorcycles
- Use of High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes
- Stopping vehicles for inspection or to secure information
- Licenses, endorsements, classifications, and restrictions authorizing operationof certain vehicles
- Motorcycle License, Examinations, and Road Tests
- Display of License Plates
- License Plate Fastening & Appearance
- Traffic Lights & Penalties
- Required Signals
- Riding two abreast in a single lane
- General riding regulations
- Motorcycle Helmet Laws
- Motorcycle headlights, horns, rearview mirror
- Possession of unapproved equipment
- Motorcycle lights
- Exhaust system
- Mufflers on motorcycles
- Official Inspection stations and approval stickers
Policy of the Commonwealth regarding use of highways by motorcycles; discriminationby political subdivisions prohibited (§ 33.2-109).
Comment: If you attempt to use any public roadway, parking lot, parkinggarage etc . . . you may not be denied access because you are on a motorcycle.Even some private facilities were built with public funds and are thereforesubject to this statute. If you feel you have been denied access pleasecontact Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group and we will handle thesituation for free.
In formulating transportation policy; promulgating regulations; allocatingfunds; and planning, designing, constructing, equipping, operating andmaintaining transportation facilities, no action of the Commonwealth TransportationBoard, the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner, or the Virginia Departmentof Transportation shall in any way have the effect of discriminating againstmotorcycles, motorcycle operators, or motorcycle passengers. No regulationor action of the Board, Commissioner or Department shall have the effectof enacting a prohibition or imposing a requirement that applies onlyto motorcycles or motorcyclists, and the principal purpose of which isto restrict or inhibit access of motorcycles and motorcyclists to anyhighway, bridge, tunnel, or other transportation facility.
The provisions of this section shall also apply to transportation facilitiesand projects undertaken or operated by counties, cities, towns, and otherpolitical subdivisions of the Commonwealth where public funds have beenused in whole or in part to plan, design, construct, equip, operate, ormaintain the facility or project.
Designation of high-occupancy vehicle lanes; use of such lanes; penalties(§ 33.2-501, edited; for expiration date, see editor’s note).
Comment: The change allowing motorcycles to use HOV lanes reflects theoriginal fight that we made on behalf of Virginia Motorcyclists. Motorcyclesmay be operated on HOV lanes in Virginia. In addition, motorcycles arenot required to be equipped with a transponder in order to use Virginia’sHOV/HOT lanes.
A. In order to facilitate the rapid and orderly movement of traffic toand from urban areas during peak traffic periods, the Commonwealth TransportationBoard may designate one or more lanes of any highway in the interstate,primary, or secondary highway systems as high-occupancy vehicle lanes,hereinafter referred to in this section as HOV lanes. When lanes havebeen so designated and have been appropriately marked with such signsor other markers as the Board may prescribe, they shall be reserved duringperiods designated by the Board for the exclusive use of buses and high-occupancyvehicles. Any local governing body may also, with respect to highwaysunder its exclusive jurisdiction, designate HOV lanes and impose and enforcerestrictions on the use of such HOV lanes. Any highway for which the localjurisdiction receives highway maintenance funds pursuant to § 33.1-41.1shall be deemed to be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the local governingbody for the purposes of this section. HOV lanes shall be reserved forhigh-occupancy vehicles of a specified number of occupants as determinedby the Board or, for HOV lanes designated by a local governing body, bythat local governing body.Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, no designationof any lane or lanes of any highway as HOV lanes shall apply to the useof any such lanes by:
1. vehicles such as fire-fighting vehicles, ambulances, and rescue squad vehicles,
2. Law-enforcement vehicles,
- a. Transit and commuter buses designed to transport 16 or more passengers,including the driver,
Definitions (§ 46.2-100, edited).
“All-terrain vehicle” means a motor vehicle having three ormore wheels that is powered by a motor and is manufactured for off-highwayuse. “All-terrain vehicle” does not include four-wheeled vehiclescommonly known as “go-carts” that have low centers of gravityand are typically used in racing on relatively level surfaces, nor doesthe term include any riding lawn mower.
“Antique motor vehicle” means every motor vehicle, as definedin this section, which was actually manufactured or designated by themanufacturer as a model manufactured in a calendar year not less than25 years prior to January 1 of each calendar year and is owned solelyas a collector’s item.
Autocycle” means a three-wheeled motor vehicle that has a steeringwheel and seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sitastride and is manufactured to comply with federal safety requirementsfor motorcycles. Except as otherwise provided, an autocycle shall notbe deemed to be a motorcycle.
“Bicycle” means a device propelled solely by human power, uponwhich a person may ride either on or astride a regular seat attached thereto,having two or more wheels in tandem, including children’s bicycles,except a toy vehicle intended for use by young children. For purposesof Chapter 8 (§ 46.2-800 et seq.) of this title, a bicycle shallbe a vehicle while operated on the highway
“Bicycle lane” means that portion of a roadway designated bysigns and/or pavement markings for the preferential use of bicycles, electricpower-assisted bicycles, motorized skateboards or scooters, and mopeds.
“Moped” means every vehicle that travels on not more than threewheels in contact with the ground that (i) has a seat that is no lessthan 24 inches in height, measured from the middle of the seat perpendicularto the ground; (ii) has a gasoline, electric, or hybrid motor that (a)displaces 50 cubic centimeters or less or (b) has an input of 1500 wattsor less; (iii) is power-driven, with or without pedals that allow propulsionby human power; and (iv) is not operated at speeds in excess of 35 milesper hour. “Moped” does not include a motorized skateboardor scooter. For purposes of this title, a moped shall be a motorcyclewhen operated at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. For purposes ofChapter 8 (§ 46.2-800 et seq.), a moped shall be a vehicle whileoperated on a highway.
“Motor-driven cycle” means every motorcycle that has a gasolineengine that (i) displaces less than 150 cubic centimeters; (ii) has aseat less than 24 inches in height, measured from the middle of the seatperpendicular to the ground; and (iii) has no manufacturer-issued vehicleidentification number.
“Motor vehicle” means every vehicle as defined in this sectionthat is self-propelled or designed for self-propulsion except as otherwiseprovided in this title. Any structure designed, used, or maintained primarilyto be loaded on or affixed to a motor vehicle to provide a mobile dwelling,sleeping place, office, or commercial space shall be considered a partof a motor vehicle. For the purposes of this title, any device hereindefined as a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electricpower-assisted bicycle, or moped shall be deemed not to be a motor vehicle.
“Motorcycle” means every motor vehicle designed to travel onnot more than three wheels in contact with the ground and is capable oftraveling at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. “Motorcycle”does not include any “autocycle,” “electric personalassistive mobility device,” “electric power-assisted bicycle,”“farm tractor,” “golf cart,” “moped,”“motorized skateboard or scooter,” “utility vehicle,”or “wheelchair or wheelchair conveyance” as defined in this section.
“Motorized skateboard or scooter” means every vehicle, regardlessof the number of its wheels in contact with the ground, that (i) is designedto allow an operator to sit or stand, (ii) has no manufacturer-issuedvehicle identification number, (iii) is powered in whole or in part byan electric motor, (iv) weighs less than 100 pounds, and (iv) has a speedof no more than 20 miles per hour on a paved level surface when poweredsolely by the electric motor. “Motorized skateboard or scooter”includes vehicles with or without handlebars but does not include “electricpersonal assistive mobility devices.” “Off-road motorcycle”means every motorcycle designed exclusively for off-road use by an individualrider with not more than two wheels in contact with the ground. Exceptas otherwise provided in this chapter, for the purposes of this chapteroff-road motorcycles shall be deemed to be “motorcycles.”
“Off-road motorcycle” means every motorcycle designed exclusivelyfor off-road use by an individual rider with not more than two wheelsin contact with the ground. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter,for the purposes of this chapter off-road motorcycles shall be deemedto be “motorcycles.”
“Operator” or “driver” means every person who either(i) drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on a highwayor (ii) is exercising control over or steering a vehicle being towed bya motor vehicle.
Stopping vehicles for inspection or to secure information (§ 46.2-103).
Comment: This Statute removes the authority of law enforcement to conductsafety checkpoints for motorcycles only.
Except as prohibited by § 19.2-59, on his request or signal, any law-enforcementofficer who is in uniform or displays his badge or other sign of authority may:
1. Stop any motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer to inspect its equipment,operation, manufacturer’s serial or engine number; or
2. Stop any property-carrying motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer toinspect its contents or load or to obtain other necessary information.
Nothing in this section, however, shall be construed to authorize the establishmenton any highway of police check-points where the only vehicles subjectto inspection are motorcycles.
Department to issue licenses; endorsements, classifications, and restrictionsauthorizing operation of certain vehicles (§ 46.2-328).
A. The Department shall issue to every person licensed as a driver, a driver’s license.Every driver’s license shall contain all appropriate endorsements,classifications, and restrictions, where applicable, if the licensee hasbeen licensed:
1. To operate a motorcycle as defined in § 46.2-100, or
2. To operate a school bus as defined in § 46.2-100, or
3. To operate a commercial motor vehicle pursuant to the provisions ofthe Virginia Commercial Driver’s License Act (§46.2-341.1 et seq.).
B. Every applicant intending to operate one or more of the motor vehiclesdescribed in subsection A of this section, when applying for a driver’slicense, shall state in his application the classification of the vehicleor vehicles that he intends to operate and for which he seeks to be licensedand submit to and pass the examination provided for in § 46.2-325and, if applicable, §§ 46.2-337 and 46.2-341.14, using the typeof vehicle or vehicles for which he seeks to be licensed.
C. Every applicant intending to drive a motorcycle, when applying for aclassification to authorize the driving of a motorcycle, shall submitto and pass the examination provided for in § 46.2-337. A classificationon any license to drive a motorcycle shall indicate that the license isclassified for the purpose of authorizing the licensee to drive only motorcyclesand shall indicate as applicable a further restriction to a two-wheeledmotorcycle only or a three-wheeled motorcycle only. However, if the applicanthas a valid license at the time of application for a classification todrive a motorcycle, or if the applicant, at the time of such application,applies for a regular driver’s license and submits to and passesthe examination provided for in §46.2-325, he shall be granted aclassification on his license to drive motorcycles based on the applicablerestrictions, in addition to any other vehicles his driver’s licenseor commercial driver’s license may authorize him to operate.
A valid Virginia driver’s license issued to a person 19 years ofage or older shall constitute a driver’s license with a temporarymotorcycle classification for the purposes of driving a motorcycle ifthe driver’s license is accompanied by either (i) documentationverifying his successful completion of a motorcycle rider safety trainingcourse offered by a provider licensed under Article 23 (§ 46.2-1188et seq.) of Chapter 10 or (ii) documentation that the license holder isa member, the spouse of a member, or a dependent of a member of the UnitedStates Armed Services and that the license holder has successfully completeda basic motorcycle rider course approved by the United States Armed Services.The temporary motorcycle classification shall only be valid for 30 daysfrom the date of successful completion of the motorcycle rider safetytraining course as shown on the documentation evidencing completion ofsuch course. The temporary motorcycle classification shall indicate whetherthe license holder is authorized to operate any motorcycle or is restrictedto either a two-wheeled motorcycle only or a three-wheeled motorcycle only.
Any person who holds a valid Virginia driver’s license and is a member,the spouse of a member, or a dependent of a member of the United StatesArmed Services shall be issued a motorcycle classification by mail upondocumentation of (a) successful completion of a basic motorcycle ridercourse approved by the United States Armed Services and (b) documentationof his assignment outside the Commonwealth.
D. The Department may make any changes in the classifications and endorsementsduring the validity of the license as may be appropriate.
E. The provisions of this section shall be applicable to persons applyingfor learner’s permits as otherwise provided for in this title.
F. Every person issued a driver’s license or commercial driver’slicense who drives any motor vehicle of the classifications in this section,and whose driver’s license does not carry an endorsement or indicationthat the licensee is licensed as provided in this section shall be guiltyof a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Examination and road test required for license to operate motorcycle; regulations(§ 46.2-337).
No person shall drive any motorcycle on a highway in the Commonwealth unlesshe has passed a special examination, including written material and aroad test, pertaining to his ability to drive a motorcycle with reasonablecompetence and with safety to other persons using the highways. The Departmentmay adopt regulations as may be necessary to provide for the special examinationunder § 46.2-325 of persons desiring to qualify to drive motorcyclesin the Commonwealth and for the granting of licenses or permits suitablyendorsed for qualified applicants. The road test for two-wheeled motorcyclesand the road test for three-wheeled motorcycles shall be separate anddistinct examinations emphasizing the skills and maneuvers necessary tooperate each type of motorcycle.
No person applying for a classification to authorize the driving of a motorcyclewho fails the road test portion of the special examination two times shallbe eligible for such classification until he successfully completes amotorcycle rider safety training course offered by a provider licensedunder Article 23 (§ 46.2-1188 et seq.) of Chapter 10.
If the Commissioner is satisfied that a person intending to operate a motorcyclehas demonstrated the same proficiency as required by the special examinationthrough successful completion of a motorcycle rider safety training courseoffered by a provider licensed under Article 23 (§ 46.2-1188 et seq.)of Chapter 10, he may waive the written material or road test portionor both portions of the special examination. The Commissioner may alsowaive the written material or road test portion or both portions of thespecial examination if the person intending to operate a motorcycle holdsa valid Virginia driver’s license and is a member, the spouse ofa member, or a dependent of a member of the United States Armed Services,and the license holder has successfully completed a basic motorcycle ridercourse approved by the United States Armed Services.
Display of license plates (§ 46.2-715).
Comment: The statute requires the plate to be attached to the rear of themotorcycle. We believe you may still have a side mounted plate so longas it is attached toward the rear and clearly visible from the rear ofthe motorcycle. The purpose of the statute is to allow an officer to seethe plate when he or she is at the rear of the vehicle.
License plates assigned to a motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, tractortruck, trailer, or semitrailer, or to persons licensed as motor vehicledealers or transporters of unladen vehicles, shall be attached to thefront and the rear of the vehicle. The license plate assigned to a motorcycle,trailer, or semitrailer shall be attached to the rear of the vehicle.The license plate assigned to a tractor truck shall be attached to thefront of the vehicle. The license plates issued to licensed motor vehicledealers and to persons licensed as transporters of unladen vehicles shallconsist of one plate for each set issued and shall be attached to therear of the vehicle to which it is assigned.
How license plates fastened to vehicle; altering appearance of licenseplates (§ 46.2-716).
Comment: The main thing is that the plate must be visible. For some reasonsome members of law enforcement believe that if you mount the plate verticallyas opposed to horizontally that you are violating this statute. Nothingin this statute forbids the vertical mounting of license plates.
A. Every license plate shall be securely fastened to the motor vehicle,trailer, or semitrailer to which it is assigned:
1. So as to prevent the plate from swinging,
2. In a position to be clearly visible, and
3. In a condition to be clearly legible.
B. No colored glass, colored plastic, bracket, holder, mounting, frame,or any other type of covering shall be placed, mounted, or installed on,around, or over any license plate if such glass, plastic, bracket, holder,mounting, frame, or other type of covering in any way alters or obscures(i) the alpha-numeric information, (ii) the color of the license plate,(iii) the name or abbreviated name of the state wherein the vehicle isregistered, or (iv) any character or characters, decal, stamp, or otherdevice indicating the month or year in which the vehicle’s registrationexpires. No insignia, emblems, or trailer hitches or couplings shall bemounted in such a way as to hide or obscure any portion of the licenseplate or render any portion of the license plate illegible.
C. The Superintendent may make such regulations as he may deem advisableto enforce the proper mounting and securing of the license plate on the vehicle.
Traffic lights; penalty (§ 46.2-833).
Comment: Paragraph B allows motorcyclists to treat red lights as stop signswhen the sensor fails to recognize the motorcycle after either two minutesor two cycles of the light, which ever is shortest.
A. Signals by traffic lights shall be as follows:
Steady red indicates that moving traffic shall stop and remain stoppedas long as the red signal is shown, except in the direction indicatedby a lighted green arrow.
Green indicates the traffic shall move in the direction of the signal andremain in motion as long as the green signal is given, except that suchtraffic shall yield to other vehicles and pedestrians lawfully withinthe intersection.
Steady amber indicates that a change is about to be made in the directionof the moving of traffic. When the amber signal is shown, traffic whichhas not already entered the intersection, including the crosswalks, shallstop if it is not reasonably safe to continue, but traffic which has alreadyentered the intersection shall continue to move until the intersectionhas been cleared. The amber signal is a warning that the steady red signalis imminent.
Flashing red indicates that traffic shall stop before entering an intersection.
Flashing amber indicates that traffic may proceed through the intersectionor past such signal with reasonable care under the circumstances.
B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a driver of a motorcycleor moped or a bicycle rider approaches an intersection that is controlledby a traffic light, the driver or rider may proceed through the intersectionon a steady red light only if the driver or rider (i) comes to a fulland complete stop at the intersection for two complete cycles of the trafficlight or for two minutes, whichever is shorter, (ii) exercises due careas provided by law, (iii) otherwise treats the traffic control deviceas a stop sign, (iv) determines that it is safe to proceed, and (v) yieldsthe right of way to the driver of any vehicle approaching on such otherhighway from either direction.
C. If the traffic lights controlling an intersection are out of servicebecause of a power failure or other event that prevents the giving ofsignals by the traffic lights, the drivers of vehicles approaching suchan intersection shall proceed as though such intersection were controlledby a stop sign on all approaches. The provisions of this subsection shallnot apply to: intersections controlled by portable stop signs, intersectionswith law-enforcement officers or other authorized persons directing traffic,or intersections controlled by traffic lights displaying flashing redor flashing amber lights as provided in subsection A.
D. The driver of any motor vehicle may be detained or arrested for a violationof this section if the detaining law-enforcement officer is in uniform,displays his badge of authority, and (i) has observed the violation or(ii) has received a message by radio or other wireless telecommunicationdevice from another law-enforcement officer who observed the violation.In the case of a person being detained or arrested based on a radio message,the message shall be sent immediately after the violation is observed,and the observing officer shall furnish the license number or other positiveidentification of the vehicle to the detaining officer.
Violation of any provision of this section shall constitute a traffic infractionpunishable by a fine of no more than $350.
Signals required on backing, stopping, or turning (§ 46.2-848).
Comment: Notice that turn signals are not required unless your actionsmay affect another vehicle. However, it is best practice to use them inall cases. The signals required by this article are either electronic or hand.
Every driver who intends to back, stop, turn, or partly turn from a directline shall first see that such movement can be made safely and, wheneverthe operation of any other vehicle may be affected by such movement, shallgive the signals required in this article, plainly visible to the driverof such other vehicle, of his intention to make such movement.
Driving two abreast in a single lane (§ 46.2-857).
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives any motor vehicleso as to be abreast of another vehicle in a lane designed for one vehicle,or drives any motor vehicle so as to travel abreast of any other vehicletraveling in a lane designed for one vehicle. Nothing in this sectionshall be construed to prohibit two two-wheeled motorcycles from travelingabreast while traveling in a lane designated for one vehicle. In addition,this section shall not apply to (i) any validly authorized parade, motorcade,or motorcycle escort, (ii) a motorcycle traveling in the same lane oftraffic as a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electricpower-assisted bicycle, or moped; nor shall it apply to (iii) any vehiclewhen lawfully overtaking and passing one or more vehicles traveling inthe same direction in a separate lane.
Riding on motorcycles, generally (§ 46.2-909).
Comment: The rule is that if you have a passenger you must have a seatand footrests for them. A two up seat is fine. Contrary to popular beliefthere is no requirement that the passengers use the footrests or evenbe able to reach them. However, the bike must be equipped with separatefootrests for your passenger if you wish to ride with one.
Every person operating a motorcycle, as defined in § 46.2-100, excludingthree-wheeled vehicles, shall ride only upon the permanent seat attachedto the motorcycle, unless safety dictates standing on both footpegs forno longer than is necessary. Such operator shall not carry any other person,unless the motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person, in whichevent a passenger may ride on the permanent seat if designed for two persons,or on another seat firmly attached to the rear or side of the seat forthe operator. If the motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person,it shall also be equipped with a footrest for the use of such passenger.
Motorcyclist to wear helmets, etc.; certain sales prohibited; penalty (§46.2-910).
§ 46.2-910. Motorcycle and autocycle operators to wear helmets, etc.;certain sales prohibited; penalty.
A. Every person operating a motorcycle or autocycle shall wear a face shield,safety glasses or goggles, or have his motorcycle or autocycle equippedwith safety glass or a windshield at all times while operating the vehicle,and operators and any passengers thereon shall wear protective helmets.Operators and passengers riding on motorcycles with wheels of eight inchesor less in diameter or in three-wheeled motorcycles or autocycles thathave nonremovable roofs, windshields, and enclosed bodies shall not berequired to wear protective helmets. The windshields, face shields, glassesor goggles, and protective helmets required by this section shall meetor exceed the standards and specifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation,the American National Standards Institute, Inc., or the federal Departmentof Transportation. Failure to wear a face shield, safety glasses or goggles,or protective helmets shall not constitute negligence per se in any civilproceeding. The provisions of this section requiring the wearing of protectivehelmets shall not apply to operators of or passengers on motorcycles orautocycles being operated (i) as part of an organized parade authorizedby the Department of Transportation or the locality in which the paradeis being conducted and escorted, accompanied, or participated in by law-enforcementofficers of the jurisdiction wherein the parade is held and (ii) at speedsof no more than 15 miles per hour.
No motorcycle or autocycle operator shall use any face shield, safety glasses,or goggles, or have his motorcycle or autocycle equipped with safety glassor a windshield, unless of a type either (i) approved by the Superintendentprior to July 1, 1996, or (ii) that meets or exceeds the standards andspecifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American NationalStandards Institute, Inc., or the federal Department of Transportationand is marked in accordance with such standards.
B. It shall be unlawful to sell or offer for sale, for highway use in Virginia,any protective helmet that fails to meet or exceed any standard as providedin the foregoing provisions of this section. Any violation of this subsectionis a Class 4 misdemeanor.
Comment: Please note that nothing in this section requires that the helmetbe “DOT approved.” Nor does it require that the helmet beapproved, certified or labeled by any entity. The only requirement isthat the helmet meet or exceed the standards of any one of the above threeentities. For a more detailed analysis see Bennett v. Commonwealth –http://caselaw.findlaw.com/va-court-of-appeals/1609817.html
Operating motorcycle without headlight, horn or rearview mirror (§46.2-912).
A. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, motorcycles may be operatedwithout headlights, horns, or rearview mirrors on public highways if allthe following conditions are met:
1. The motorcycles are designed for use in trail riding and endurance runs;
2. The motorcycles are being driven by duly licensed persons;
3. The motorcycles are being operated between sunrise and sunset; and
4. The motorcycles are being operated during endurance runs sanctionedby the American Motorcycle Association.
B. No person shall operate motorcycles without such equipment on the publichighways of the Commonwealth other than at the times and under the circumstancesset forth in this section.
Illegal possession or sale of certain unapproved equipment (§ 46.2-1002).
Comment: We are often asked about the legality of the LED type auxiliarylighting that people install in order to be more visible from the sideat night. Most such lighting has not been approved by the Society of AutomotiveEngineers, the American National Standards Institute, Incorporated orthe federal Department of Transportation.
It shall be unlawful for any person to possess with intent to sell or offerfor sale, either separately or as a part of the equipment of a motor vehicle,or to use or have as equipment on a motor vehicle operated on a highwayany lighting device, warning device, signal device, safety glass, or otherequipment for which approval is required by any provision of this chapteror any part or parts tending to change or alter the operation of suchdevice, glass, or other equipment unless of a type that has been submittedto and approved by the Superintendent or meets or exceeds the standardsand specifications of the Society of Automotive Engineers, the AmericanNational Standards Institute, Incorporated or the federal Department ofTransportation.
Headlights, auxiliary headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and illuminationof license plates on motorcycles (§ 46.2-1012).
Comment: Both modulating headlights and brake lights are legal in Virginiasubject to the conditions of this statute.
Every motorcycle or autocycle shall be equipped with at least one headlightwhich shall be of a type that has been approved by the Superintendentand shall be capable of projecting sufficient light to the front of suchmotorcycle or autocycle to render discernible a person or object at adistance of 200 feet. However, the lights shall not project a glaringor dazzling light to persons approaching such motorcycles or autocycles.In addition, each motorcycle or autocycle may be equipped with not morethan two auxiliary headlights of a type approved by the Superintendentexcept as otherwise provided in this section.
Motorcycles or autocycles may be equipped with means of modulating thehigh beam of their headlights between high and low beam at a rate of 200to 280 flashes per minute. Such headlights shall not be so modulated duringperiods when headlights would ordinarily be required to be lighted under§ 46.2-1030.
Notwithstanding § 46.2-1002, motorcycles or autocycles may be equippedwith standard bulb running lights or light-emitting diode (LED) pods orstrips as auxiliary lighting. Such lighting shall be (i) either red oramber in color, (ii) directed toward the ground in such a manner thatno part of the beam will strike the level of the surface on which themotorcycle or autocycle stands at a distance of more than 10 feet fromthe vehicle, and (iii) designed for vehicular use. Such lighting shallnot (a) project a beam of light of an intensity greater than 25 candlepoweror its equivalent from a single lamp or bulb; (b) be blinking, flashing,oscillating, or rotating; or (c) be attached to the wheels of the motorcycleor autocycle.
Every motorcycle or autocycle registered in the Commonwealth and operatedon the highways of the Commonwealth shall be equipped with at least onebrake light of a type approved by the Superintendent. Motorcycles or autocyclesmay be equipped with one or more auxiliary brake lights of a type approvedby the Superintendent. The Superintendent may by regulation prescribeor limit the size, number, location, and configuration of such auxiliarybrake lights.
Every motorcycle or autocycle shall carry at the rear at least one or morered lights plainly visible in clear weather from a distance of 500 feetto the rear of such vehicle. Such tail lights shall be constructed andso mounted in their relation to the rear license plate as to illuminatethe license plate with a white light so that the same may be read froma distance of 50 feet to the rear of such vehicle. Alternatively, a separatewhite light shall be so mounted as to illuminate the rear license platefrom a distance of 50 feet to the rear of such vehicle. Any such taillights or special white light shall be of a type approved by the Superintendent.
Motorcycles or autocycles may be equipped with a means of varying the brightnessof the vehicle’s brake light upon application of the vehicle’s brakes.
Exhaust system in good working order (§ 46.2-1049).
Comment: Note that the above statute does not set a decibel level. It statesthat the exhaust must be stock or comparable to stock. Keep in mind thataccording to State Code, localities may adopt ordinances regulating noisefrom motorcycles which are not equipped with mufflers and an exhaust systemwhich conform to the above statute.
No person shall drive and no owner of a vehicle shall permit or allow theoperation of any such vehicle on a highway unless it is equipped withan exhaust system in good working order and in constant operation to preventexcessive or unusual levels of noise; provided however, that for motorvehicles, such exhaust system shall be of a type installed as standardfactory equipment, or comparable to that designed for use on the particularvehicle as standard factory equipment. An exhaust system shall not bedeemed to prevent excessive or unusual noise if it permits the escapeof noise in excess of that permitted by the standard factory equipmentexhaust system of private passenger motor vehicles or trucks of standard make.
The term “exhaust system,” as used in this section, means allthe parts of a vehicle through which the exhaust passes after leavingthe engine block, including mufflers and other sound dissipative devices.
Chambered pipes are not an effective muffling device to prevent excessiveor unusual noise, and any vehicle equipped with chambered pipes shallbe deemed in violation of this section.
Mufflers on motorcycles (§ 46.2-1050).
It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or cause to be operatedany motorcycle not equipped with a muffler or other sound dissipativedevice in good working order and in constant operation.
No person shall remove or render inoperative, or cause to be removed orrendered inoperative, other than for purposes of maintenance, repair orreplacement, any muffler or sound dissipative device on a motorcycle.
Official inspection stations; safety inspection approval stickers; actionsof Superintendent subject to the Administrative Process Act (§ 46.2-1163).
Comment: This statute allows for the placing of inspections stickers ona plate securely fastened to the motorcycle. While not included in thestatute, the above designation powers have been used to require that theinspection plate be mounted on the left side of the motorcycle.
The Superintendent may designate, furnish instructions to, and superviseofficial inspection stations for the inspection of motor vehicles, trailers,and semitrailers and for adjusting and correcting equipment enumeratedin this chapter in such a manner as to conform to specifications hereinbeforeset forth. The Superintendent shall adopt and furnish to such officialinspection stations regulations governing the making of inspections requiredby this chapter. The Superintendent may at any time, after five days’written notice, revoke the designation of any official inspection stationdesignated by him.
If no defects are discovered or when the equipment has been corrected inaccordance with this title, the official inspection station shall issueto the operator or owner of the vehicle, on forms furnished by the Departmentof State Police, a duplicate of which is retained by such station, a certificateshowing the date of correction, registration number of the vehicle, andthe official designation of such station. There also shall be placed onthe windshield of the vehicle at a place to be designated by the Superintendentan approval sticker furnished by the Department of State Police. If anyvehicle is not equipped with a windshield, the approval sticker shallbe placed on the vehicle in a location designated by the Superintendent.If the vehicle is a motorcycle, the approval sticker may be placed ona plate securely fastened to the motorcycle for the purpose of displayingthe sticker or in any other location designated by the Superintendent.This sticker shall be displayed on the windshield of such vehicle or atsuch other designated place upon the vehicle at all times when it is operatedor parked on the highways in the Commonwealth and until such time as anew inspection period shall be designated and a new inspection stickerissued. Common carriers, operating under certificate from the State CorporationCommission or the Department of Motor Vehicles, who desire to do so mayuse with the approval of the Superintendent private inspection stationsfor the inspection and correction of their equipment.