Virginia has several laws and statutes that relate directly 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 one of our attorneys who practice in Virginia and are familiar with current Virginia motorcycle laws.
- Policy of the Commonwealth regarding use of highways by motorcycles; discrimination by political subdivisions prohibited (§ 33.2-109).
- Designation of high-occupancy vehicle lanes; use of such lanes; penalties (§ 33.2-501, edited; for expiration date, see editor’s note).
- a. Transit and commuter buses designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver,
- Definitions (§ 46.2-100, edited).
- Stopping vehicles for inspection or to secure information (§ 46.2-103).
- Department to issue licenses; endorsements, classifications, and restrictions authorizing operation of certain vehicles (§ 46.2-328).
- Examination and road test required for license to operate motorcycle; regulations (§ 46.2-337).
- Display of license plates (§ 46.2-715).
- How license plates fastened to vehicle; altering appearance of license plates (§ 46.2-716).
- Traffic lights; penalty (§ 46.2-833).
- Signals required on backing, stopping, or turning (§ 46.2-848).
- Driving two abreast in a single lane (§ 46.2-857).
- Riding on motorcycles, generally (§ 46.2-909).
- Motorcyclist to wear helmets, etc.; certain sales prohibited; penalty (§ 46.2-910).
- Operating motorcycle without headlight, horn or rearview mirror (§ 46.2-912).
- Illegal possession or sale of certain unapproved equipment (§ 46.2-1002).
- Headlights, auxiliary headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and illumination of license plates on motorcycles (§ 46.2-1012).
- Exhaust system in good working order (§ 46.2-1049).
- Mufflers on motorcycles (§ 46.2-1050).
- Official inspection stations; safety inspection approval stickers; actions of Superintendent subject to the Administrative Process Act (§ 46.2-1163).
In formulating transportation policy; promulgating regulations; allocating funds; and planning, designing, constructing, equipping, operating and maintaining transportation facilities, no action of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner, or the Virginia Department of Transportation shall in any way have the effect of discriminating against motorcycles, motorcycle operators, or motorcycle passengers. No regulation or action of the Board, Commissioner or Department shall have the effect of enacting a prohibition or imposing a requirement that applies only to motorcycles or motorcyclists, and the principal purpose of which is to restrict or inhibit access of motorcycles and motorcyclists to any highway, bridge, tunnel, or other transportation facility.
The provisions of this section shall also apply to transportation facilities and projects undertaken or operated by counties, cities, towns, and other political subdivisions of the Commonwealth where public funds have been used in whole or in part to plan, design, construct, equip, operate, or maintain the facility or project.
Comment: If you attempt to use any public roadway, parking lot, parking garage etc . . . you may not be denied access because you are on a motorcycle. Even some private facilities were built with public funds and are therefore subject to this statute. If you feel you have been denied access please contact Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group and we will handle the situation for free.
A. In order to facilitate the rapid and orderly movement of traffic to and from urban areas during peak traffic periods, the Commonwealth Transportation Board 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 have been so designated and have been appropriately marked with such signs or other markers as the Board may prescribe, they shall be reserved during periods designated by the Board for the exclusive use of buses and high-occupancy vehicles. Any local governing body may also, with respect to highways under its exclusive jurisdiction, designate HOV lanes and impose and enforce restrictions on the use of such HOV lanes. Any highway for which the local jurisdiction receives highway maintenance funds pursuant to § 33.1-41.1 shall be deemed to be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the local governing body for the purposes of this section. HOV lanes shall be reserved for high-occupancy vehicles of a specified number of occupants as determined by the Board or, for HOV lanes designated by a local governing body, by that local governing body. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, no designation of any lane or lanes of any highway as HOV lanes shall apply to the use of any such lanes by:
1. vehicles such as fire-fighting vehicles, ambulances, and rescue squad vehicles,
2. Law-enforcement vehicles,
Comment: The change allowing motorcycles to use HOV lanes reflects the original fight that we made on behalf of Virginia Motorcyclists. Motorcycles may be operated on HOV lanes in Virginia. In addition, motorcycles are not required to be equipped with a transponder in order to use Virginia’s HOV/HOT lanes.
“All-terrain vehicle” means a three-wheeled or four-wheeled motor vehicle powered by a gasoline or diesel engine and generally characterized by large, low-pressure tires, a seat designed to be straddled by the operator, and handlebars for steering that is intended for off-road use by an individual rider on various types of unpaved terrain. The term does not include four-wheeled vehicles, commonly known as “go-carts,” that have low centers of gravity and are typically used in racing on relatively level surfaces, nor does the term include any “utility vehicle” as defined in this section or any “farm utility vehicle” as defined in this section.
Antique motor vehicle” means every motor vehicle, as defined in this section, which was actually manufactured or designated by the manufacturer as a model manufactured in a calendar year not less than 25 years prior to January 1 of each calendar year and is owned solely as a collector’s item.
“Autocycle” means a three-wheeled motor vehicle that has a steering wheel and seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sit astride and is manufactured to comply with federal safety requirements for motorcycles. Except as otherwise provided, an autocycle shall not be deemed to be a motorcycle.
“Bicycle” means a device propelled solely by human power, upon which 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 purposes of Chapter 8 (§ 46.2-800 et seq.) of this title, a bicycle shall be a vehicle while operated on the highway.46.2-800 et seq.) of this title, a moped shall be a vehicle while operated on a highway.
“Bicycle lane” means that portion of a roadway designated by signs and/or pavement markings for the preferential use of bicycles, electric power-assisted bicycles, and mopeds.
“Moped” means every vehicle that travels on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground that has (i) a seat that is no less than 24 inches in height, measured from the middle of the seat perpendicular to the ground and (ii) a gasoline, electric, or hybrid motor that displaces less than 50 cubic centimeters. For purposes of Chapter 8 (§
“Motor-driven cycle” means every motorcycle that has a gasoline engine that (i) displaces less than 150 cubic centimeters; (ii) has a seat less than 24 inches in height, measured from the middle of the seat perpendicular to the ground; and (iii) has no manufacturer-issued vehicle identification number.
“Motor vehicle” means every vehicle as defined in this section that is self-propelled or designed for self-propulsion except as otherwise provided in this title. Any structure designed, used, or maintained primarily to be loaded on or affixed to a motor vehicle to provide a mobile dwelling, sleeping place, office, or commercial space shall be considered a part of a motor vehicle. For the purposes of this title, any device herein defined as a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped shall be deemed not to be a motor vehicle.
“Motorcycle” means every motor vehicle designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and is capable of traveling at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. “Motorcycle” does not include any “autocycle,” “electric personal assistive mobility device,” “electric power-assisted bicycle,” “farm tractor,” “golf cart,” “moped,” “motorized skateboard or foot-scooter,” “utility vehicle,” or “wheelchair or wheelchair conveyance” as defined in this section.
“Motorized skateboard or scooter” means every vehicle, regardless of the number of its wheels in contact with the ground, that (i) has no seat, but is designed to be stood upon by the operator, (ii) has no manufacturer-issued vehicle identification number, and (iii) is powered by an electric motor having an input of no more than 1,000 watts or a gasoline engine that displaces less than 36 cubic centimeters. The term “motorized skateboard or scooter” includes vehicles with or without handlebars, but does not include “electric personal assistive mobility devices.”
“Off-road motorcycle” means every motorcycle designed exclusively for off-road use by an individual rider with not more than two wheels in contact with the ground. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, for the purposes of this chapter off-road motorcycles shall be deemed to be “motorcycles.”
Except as prohibited by § 19.2-59, on his request or signal, any law-enforcement officer 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 to inspect its contents or load or to obtain other necessary information.
Nothing in this section, however, shall be construed to authorize the establishment on any highway of police check-points where the only vehicles subject to inspection are motorcycles.
Comment: This Statute removes the authority of law enforcement to conduct safety checkpoints for motorcycles only.
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 has been 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 of the Virginia Commercial Driver’s License Act (§46.2-341.1 et seq.).
B. Every applicant intending to operate one or more of the motor vehicles described in subsection A of this section, when applying for a driver’s license, shall state in his application the classification of the vehicle or vehicles that he intends to operate and for which he seeks to be licensed and submit to and pass the examination provided for in § 46.2-325 and, if applicable, §§ 46.2-337 and 46.2-341.14, using the type of vehicle or vehicles for which he seeks to be licensed.
C. Every applicant intending to drive a motorcycle, when applying for a classification to authorize the driving of a motorcycle, shall submit to and pass the examination provided for in § 46.2-337. A classification on any license to drive a motorcycle shall indicate that the license is classified for the purpose of authorizing the licensee to drive only motorcycles and shall indicate as applicable a further restriction to a two-wheeled motorcycle only or a three-wheeled motorcycle only. However, if the applicant has a valid license at the time of application for a classification to drive a motorcycle, or if the applicant, at the time of such application, applies for a regular driver’s license and submits to and passes the examination provided for in §46.2-325, he shall be granted a classification on his license to drive motorcycles based on the applicable restrictions, in addition to any other vehicles his driver’s license or commercial driver’s license may authorize him to operate.
A valid Virginia driver’s license issued to a person 19 years of age or older shall constitute a driver’s license with a temporary motorcycle classification for the purposes of driving a motorcycle if the driver’s license is accompanied by either (i) documentation verifying his successful completion of a motorcycle rider safety training course offered by a provider licensed under Article 23 (§ 46.2-1188 et seq.) of Chapter 10 or (ii) documentation that the license holder is a member, the spouse of a member, or a dependent of a member of the United States Armed Services and that the license holder has successfully completed a basic motorcycle rider course approved by the United States Armed Services. The temporary motorcycle classification shall only be valid for 30 days from the date of successful completion of the motorcycle rider safety training course as shown on the documentation evidencing completion of such course. The temporary motorcycle classification shall indicate whether the license holder is authorized to operate any motorcycle or is restricted to 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 States Armed Services shall be issued a motorcycle classification by mail upon documentation of (a) successful completion of a basic motorcycle rider course approved by the United States Armed Services and (b) documentation of his assignment outside the Commonwealth.
D. The Department may make any changes in the classifications and endorsements during the validity of the license as may be appropriate.
E. The provisions of this section shall be applicable to persons applying for learner’s permits as otherwise provided for in this title.
F. Every person issued a driver’s license or commercial driver’s license who drives any motor vehicle of the classifications in this section, and whose driver’s license does not carry an endorsement or indication that the licensee is licensed as provided in this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
No person shall drive any motorcycle on a highway in the Commonwealth unless he has passed a special examination, including written material and a road test, pertaining to his ability to drive a motorcycle with reasonable competence and with safety to other persons using the highways. The Department may adopt regulations as may be necessary to provide for the special examination under § 46.2-325 of persons desiring to qualify to drive motorcycles in the Commonwealth and for the granting of licenses or permits suitably endorsed for qualified applicants. The road test for two-wheeled motorcycles and the road test for three-wheeled motorcycles shall be separate and distinct examinations emphasizing the skills and maneuvers necessary to operate each type of motorcycle.
No person applying for a classification to authorize the driving of a motorcycle who fails the road test portion of the special examination two times shall be eligible for such classification until he successfully completes a motorcycle rider safety training course offered by a provider licensed under Article 23 (§ 46.2-1188 et seq.) of Chapter 10.
If the Commissioner is satisfied that a person intending to operate a motorcycle has demonstrated the same proficiency as required by the special examination through successful completion of a motorcycle rider safety training course offered by a provider licensed under Article 23 (§ 46.2-1188 et seq.) of Chapter 10, he may waive the written material or road test portion or both portions of the special examination. The Commissioner may also waive the written material or road test portion or both portions of the special examination if the person intending to operate a motorcycle 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 States Armed Services, and the license holder has successfully completed a basic motorcycle rider course approved by the United States Armed Services.
License plates assigned to a motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, tractor truck, trailer, or semitrailer, or to persons licensed as motor vehicle dealers or transporters of unladen vehicles, shall be attached to the front 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 the front of the vehicle. The license plates issued to licensed motor vehicle dealers and to persons licensed as transporters of unladen vehicles shall consist of one plate for each set issued and shall be attached to the rear of the vehicle to which it is assigned.
Comment: The statute requires the plate to be attached to the rear of the motorcycle. We believe you may still have a side mounted plate so long as it is attached toward the rear and clearly visible from the rear of the motorcycle. The purpose of the statute is to allow an officer to see the plate when he or she is at the rear of the vehicle.
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 is registered, or (iv) any character or characters, decal, stamp, or other device indicating the month or year in which the vehicle’s registration expires. No insignia, emblems, or trailer hitches or couplings shall be mounted in such a way as to hide or obscure any portion of the license plate or render any portion of the license plate illegible.
C. The Superintendent may make such regulations as he may deem advisable to enforce the proper mounting and securing of the license plate on the vehicle.
Comment: The main thing is that the plate must be visible. For some reason some members of law enforcement believe that if you mount the plate vertically as opposed to horizontally that you are violating this statute. Nothing in this statute forbids the vertical mounting of license plates.
A. Signals by traffic lights shall be as follows:
Steady red indicates that moving traffic shall stop and remain stopped as long as the red signal is shown, except in the direction indicated by a lighted green arrow.
Green indicates the traffic shall move in the direction of the signal and remain in motion as long as the green signal is given, except that such traffic shall yield to other vehicles and pedestrians lawfully within the intersection.
Steady amber indicates that a change is about to be made in the direction of the moving of traffic. When the amber signal is shown, traffic which has not already entered the intersection, including the crosswalks, shall stop if it is not reasonably safe to continue, but traffic which has already entered the intersection shall continue to move until the intersection has been cleared. The amber signal is a warning that the steady red signal is imminent.
Flashing red indicates that traffic shall stop before entering an intersection.
Flashing amber indicates that traffic may proceed through the intersection or past such signal with reasonable care under the circumstances.
B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a driver of a motorcycle or moped or a bicycle rider approaches an intersection that is controlled by a traffic light, the driver or rider may proceed through the intersection on a steady red light only if the driver or rider (i) comes to a full and complete stop at the intersection for two complete cycles of the traffic light or for two minutes, whichever is shorter, (ii) exercises due care as provided by law, (iii) otherwise treats the traffic control device as a stop sign, (iv) determines that it is safe to proceed, and (v) yields the right of way to the driver of any vehicle approaching on such other highway from either direction.
C. If the traffic lights controlling an intersection are out of service because of a power failure or other event that prevents the giving of signals by the traffic lights, the drivers of vehicles approaching such an intersection shall proceed as though such intersection were controlled by a stop sign on all approaches. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to: intersections controlled by portable stop signs, intersections with law-enforcement officers or other authorized persons directing traffic, or intersections controlled by traffic lights displaying flashing red or flashing amber lights as provided in subsection A.
D. The driver of any motor vehicle may be detained or arrested for a violation of 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 telecommunication device 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 positive identification of the vehicle to the detaining officer.
Violation of any provision of this section shall constitute a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of no more than $350.
Comment: Paragraph B allows motorcyclists to treat red lights as stop signs when the sensor fails to recognize the motorcycle after either two minutes or two cycles of the light, which ever is shortest.
Every driver who intends to back, stop, turn, or partly turn from a direct line shall first see that such movement can be made safely and, whenever the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by such movement, shall give the signals required in this article, plainly visible to the driver of such other vehicle, of his intention to make such movement.
Comment: Notice that turn signals are not required unless your actions may affect another vehicle. However, it is best practice to use them in all cases. The signals required by this article are either electronic or hand.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives any motor vehicle so 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 vehicle traveling in a lane designed for one vehicle. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit two two-wheeled motorcycles from traveling abreast 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 of traffic as a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped; nor shall it apply to (iii) any vehicle when lawfully overtaking and passing one or more vehicles traveling in the same direction in a separate lane.
Every person operating a motorcycle, as defined in § 46.2-100, excluding three-wheeled vehicles, shall ride only upon the permanent seat attached to the motorcycle, unless safety dictates standing on both footpegs for no longer than is necessary. Such operator shall not carry any other person, unless the motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person, in which event 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 for the 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.
Comment: The rule is that if you have a passenger you must have a seat and footrests for them. A two up seat is fine. Contrary to popular belief there is no requirement that the passengers use the footrests or even be able to reach them. However, the bike must be equipped with separate footrests for your passenger if you wish to ride with one.
§ 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 equipped with 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 inches or less in diameter or in three-wheeled motorcycles or autocycles that have nonremovable roofs, windshields, and enclosed bodies shall not be required to wear protective helmets. The windshields, face shields, glasses or goggles, and protective helmets required by this section shall meet or exceed the standards and specifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American National Standards Institute, Inc., or the federal Department of Transportation. Failure to wear a face shield, safety glasses or goggles, or protective helmets shall not constitute negligence per se in any civil proceeding. The provisions of this section requiring the wearing of protective helmets shall not apply to operators of or passengers on motorcycles or autocycles being operated (i) as part of an organized parade authorized by the Department of Transportation or the locality in which the parade is being conducted and escorted, accompanied, or participated in by law-enforcement officers of the jurisdiction wherein the parade is held and (ii) at speeds of 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 glass or a windshield, unless of a type either (i) approved by the Superintendent prior to July 1, 1996, or (ii) that meets or exceeds the standards and specifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American National Standards Institute, Inc., or the federal Department of Transportation and 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 provided in the foregoing provisions of this section. Any violation of this subsection is a Class 4 misdemeanor.
Comment: Please note that nothing in this section requires that the helmet be “DOT approved.” Nor does it require that the helmet be approved, certified or labeled by any entity. The only requirement is that the helmet meet or exceed the standards of any one of the above three entities. For a more detailed analysis see Bennett v. Commonwealth – http://caselaw.findlaw.com/va-court-of-appeals/1609817.html
A. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, motorcycles may be operated without headlights, horns, or rearview mirrors on public highways if all the 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 sanctioned by the American Motorcycle Association.
B. No person shall operate motorcycles without such equipment on the public highways of the Commonwealth other than at the times and under the circumstances set forth in this section.
It shall be unlawful for any person to possess with intent to sell or offer for 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 highway any lighting device, warning device, signal device, safety glass, or other equipment for which approval is required by any provision of this chapter or any part or parts tending to change or alter the operation of such device, glass, or other equipment unless of a type that has been submitted to and approved by the Superintendent or meets or exceeds the standards and specifications of the Society of Automotive Engineers, the American National Standards Institute, Incorporated or the federal Department of Transportation.
Comment: We are often asked about the legality of the LED type auxiliary lighting that people install in order to be more visible from the side at night. Most such lighting has not been approved by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the American National Standards Institute, Incorporated or the federal Department of Transportation.
Every motorcycle or autocycle shall be equipped with at least one headlight which shall be of a type that has been approved by the Superintendent and shall be capable of projecting sufficient light to the front of such motorcycle or autocycle to render discernible a person or object at a distance of 200 feet. However, the lights shall not project a glaring or dazzling light to persons approaching such motorcycles or autocycles. In addition, each motorcycle or autocycle may be equipped with not more than two auxiliary headlights of a type approved by the Superintendent.
Motorcycles or autocycles may be equipped with means of modulating the high beam of their headlights between high and low beam at a rate of 200 to 280 flashes per minute. Such headlights shall not be so modulated during periods when headlights would ordinarily be required to be lighted under § 46.2-1030.
Every motorcycle or autocycle registered in the Commonwealth and operated on the highways of the Commonwealth shall be equipped with at least one brake light of a type approved by the Superintendent. Motorcycles or autocycles may be equipped with one or more auxiliary brake lights of a type approved by the Superintendent. The Superintendent may by regulation prescribe or limit the size, number, location, and configuration of such auxiliary brake lights.
Every motorcycle or autocycle shall carry at the rear at least one or more red lights plainly visible in clear weather from a distance of 500 feet to the rear of such vehicle. Such tail lights shall be constructed and so mounted in their relation to the rear license plate as to illuminate the license plate with a white light so that the same may be read from a distance of 50 feet to the rear of such vehicle. Alternatively, a separate white light shall be so mounted as to illuminate the rear license plate from a distance of 50 feet to the rear of such vehicle. Any such tail lights 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 brightness of the vehicle’s brake light upon application of the vehicle’s brakes.
Comment. Both modulating headlights and brake lights are legal in Virginia subject to the conditions of this statute.
No person shall drive and no owner of a vehicle shall permit or allow the operation of any such vehicle on a highway unless it is equipped with an exhaust system in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual levels of noise; provided however, that for motor vehicles, such exhaust system shall be of a type installed as standard factory equipment, or comparable to that designed for use on the particular vehicle as standard factory equipment. An exhaust system shall not be deemed to prevent excessive or unusual noise if it permits the escape of noise in excess of that permitted by the standard factory equipment exhaust system of private passenger motor vehicles or trucks of standard make.
The term “exhaust system,” as used in this section, means all the parts of a vehicle through which the exhaust passes after leaving the engine block, including mufflers and other sound dissipative devices.
Chambered pipes are not an effective muffling device to prevent excessive or unusual noise, and any vehicle equipped with chambered pipes shall be deemed in violation of this section.
Comment:Note that the above statute does not set a decibel level. It states that the exhaust must be stock or comparable to stock. Keep in mind that according to State Code, localities may adopt ordinances regulating noise from motorcycles which are not equipped with mufflers and an exhaust system which conform to the above statute.
It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or cause to be operated any motorcycle not equipped with a muffler or other sound dissipative device in good working order and in constant operation.
No person shall remove or render inoperative, or cause to be removed or rendered inoperative, other than for purposes of maintenance, repair or replacement, any muffler or sound dissipative device on a motorcycle.
The Superintendent may designate, furnish instructions to, and supervise official inspection stations for the inspection of motor vehicles, trailers, and semitrailers and for adjusting and correcting equipment enumerated in this chapter in such a manner as to conform to specifications hereinbefore set forth. The Superintendent shall adopt and furnish to such official inspection stations regulations governing the making of inspections required by this chapter. The Superintendent may at any time, after five days’ written notice, revoke the designation of any official inspection station designated by him.
If no defects are discovered or when the equipment has been corrected in accordance with this title, the official inspection station shall issue to the operator or owner of the vehicle, on forms furnished by the Department of State Police, a duplicate of which is retained by such station, a certificate showing the date of correction, registration number of the vehicle, and the official designation of such station. There also shall be placed on the windshield of the vehicle at a place to be designated by the Superintendent an approval sticker furnished by the Department of State Police. If any vehicle is not equipped with a windshield, the approval sticker shall be placed on the vehicle in a location designated by the Superintendent. If the vehicle is a motorcycle, the approval sticker may be placed on a plate securely fastened to the motorcycle for the purpose of displaying the sticker or in any other location designated by the Superintendent. This sticker shall be displayed on the windshield of such vehicle or at such other designated place upon the vehicle at all times when it is operated or parked on the highways in the Commonwealth and until such time as a new inspection period shall be designated and a new inspection sticker issued. Common carriers, operating under certificate from the State Corporation Commission or the Department of Motor Vehicles, who desire to do so may use with the approval of the Superintendent private inspection stations for the inspection and correction of their equipment.
Comment: This statute allows for the placing of inspections stickers on a plate securely fastened to the motorcycle. While not included in the statute, the above designation powers have been used to require that the inspection plate be mounted on the left side of the motorcycle.