Wisconsin’s Motorcycle Laws

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on May 3, 2017 in Motorcycle Accidents
Updated on February 24, 2022

motorcycle driving courseMost people choose to ride a motorcycle because it allows drivers and passengers a freedom and openness that a passenger vehicle cannot offer.

However, this exposure leaves a motorcycle driver (operator) and his or her passenger (rider) vulnerable to the many hazards found on Wisconsin’s roadways.

Due to this constant danger, Wisconsin has enacted several laws designed to protect motorcycle operators and riders in the event of a serious motorcycle accident.

If you or someone you love regularly operates or rides a motorcycle, you should be aware of these laws to maintain roadway safety.

Wisconsin’s Protective Safety Gear Laws

In the event of an accident, one of the most reliable methods for staying safe on a motorcycle is by wearing the proper protective gear.

Protective Eyewear

Under Wis. stat. 347.485, motorcycle operators and riders are required to be equipped with protective eyewear while traveling on a motorcycle.

No person is allowed to operate a motorcycle on any highway in Wisconsin if he or she does not have the following facial protection:

  • A protective face shield attached to the headgear
  • Glasses
  • Goggles

If you are operating a motorcycle at night, you are not allowed to wear any eyewear that is tinted or darkened and limits your ability to see the road. The only exception is for those who wear photosensitive corrective glasses prescribed by a medical practitioner.

However, if you are operating a motorcycle equipped with a windshield that extends a minimum of 15 inches above the handlebar, protective eyewear is not mandatory.

Wisconsin’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

Motorcycle operators and riders are only required to wear a helmet in Wisconsin if they are under 18-years-old or if they hold an instructional permit.

As long as an adult is fully licensed to operate a motorcycle and is equipped with the proper form of protective eyewear, he or she does not have to wear a helmet.

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident in which you were not wearing a helmet, the other party cannot hold you liable for your injuries.

However, any helmet worn by a motorcycle operator or rider must meet the following federal safety standards:

  • The helmet must have a one-inch thick inner lining made of firm polystyrene foam.
  • The helmet must have sturdy chin strap and rivets.
  • The helmet must weigh an average of three pounds.
  • The helmet cannot have any objects or decorations attached to it that extend further than two inches.
  • The helmet must have a sticker on its back with the letters “DOT,” standing for the U.S. Department of Transportation, which signifies that it has been approved and meets the requirements listed under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS 218).
  • In addition to the DOT sticker, the labels inside a helmet must show that it meets the standards of a private nonprofit organization such as Snell or the American National Standards Institute.
  • The helmet should also have a manufacturer’s label that states the manufacturer’s name, model, size, month and year of the manufacturing date, construction materials and owner’s information.

License to Operate a Motorcycle in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has a created a motorcycle handbook that details the state’s requirements and expectations for operators to follow when traveling on the state’s roadways.

Anyone who operates a motorcycle in Wisconsin is required to have a Class M motorcycle license or instruction permit.

In order to obtain a Class M motorcycle license, you must first have an instructional permit, which requires you to take the motorcycle knowledge test, a sign test and a vision screening.

A motorcycle instruction permit is valid for six months. You must complete the skills test within the six-month timeframe in order to be fully licensed. However, if you do not complete it within this time, you can extend the instruction permit for another six months.

Wisconsin’s Laws for Operating a Motorcycle

The laws for safely operating a motorcycle on Wisconsin’s roadways are detailed under Wis. Stat. 346.595.

All motorcycle are entitled to full use of the roadway and cannot be driven in a manner that would deprive another vehicle full use of a traffic lane.

In order to preserve the safety and use of roads for all motorists, no more than two motorcycles are allowed to travel side-by-side in a single lane. The two operators must have also consented to this style of riding in order to legally occupy an entire lane.

Motorcycle operators must also ride the vehicle in a manner that would ensure their safety. Operators and riders must travel on a motorcycle in a style approved by Wisconsin, which includes:

  • No more than two people can ride on one motorcycle at a time.
  • No passenger can ride a motorcycle if, when properly seated, the passenger cannot rest his or her feet on assigned foot rests or pegs.
  • No passenger shall ride in front of the operator on a motorcycle
  • A motorcycle’s headlamps must be lighted whenever the vehicle is in operation.

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident and it can be proven that you were engaging in one of these violations, you may be found partially liable for your damages, which could affect your ability to recover compensation.

Wisconsin’s Insurance Requirements for Motorcycle Owners

If you own motorcycle, you must abide by Wisconsin’s minimum insurance requirements for two-wheeled vehicles. All motorcycle owners must purchase the following coverage:

  • $10,000 of property damage coverage for damages sustained in a single accident
  • $25,000 of bodily injury coverage for injuries or death to one person in a single accident.
  • $50,000 if bodily injury coverage for injuries or deaths to more than one person in a single accident.

Before you are allowed to operate a motorcycle in Wisconsin, you must have met these financial obligations required by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Filing a Claim for a Motorcycle Accident Injury

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you have a limited amount of time to file a claim against the at-fault party.

Wisconsin allows injury victims to pursue legal action and damages within a three-year statute of limitations if the other party is found to have caused the accident through negligence.

If you fail to meet this deadline, you forfeit your right to seek compensation for any injuries or property damage you might have incurred during the accident.

We can discuss filing a motorcycle accident claim in Wisconsin during a free consultation that comes with no obligation to hire our firm.

Our Milwaukee motorcycle accident lawyers work only on a contingency fee basis and do not charge clients upfront for legal fees. We only require payment if we successfully recover damages for your claim.

We will ensure that your claim is filed within the state’s statute of limitations and is properly filed to maximize your compensation.

Complete a Free Case Evaluation to consult with our motorcycle accident attorneys.

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