District Columbia Motorcycle Manual 2016

Unlike most other states, the District of Columbia does not provide a separate manual for motorcyclists. However, the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does offer an Automobile Driver and Motorcycle Operator’s Study Guide, which contains road safety rules and information on traffic regulations for motor vehicles. It is also recommended that applicants for motorcycle licenses check out the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Motorcycle Operation Manual, in addition to the DMV’s Study Guide.

Both the DMV Study Guide as well as the Motorcycle Operation Manual are available for free on this page (see below), or at any DMV service location. You can also contact the DMV Customer Service to have one delivered to you through the mail.

The Motorcycle Endorsement

In order to legally operate a motorcycle in the District of Columbia, you must have a valid driver’s license as well as the motorcycle (M) endorsement. According to traffic law in Washington DC, motorcycles are defined as two- or three-wheeled motor vehicles that have:

  • Piston displacement of >50 cubic centimeters
  • Ability to travel over 35 mph on level ground
  • Wheels of a diameter <16 inches
  • A manual transmission

In order to obtain a motorcycle endorsement, applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a valid DC driver’s license
  • Pass the DC motorcycle knowledge test
  • Pass the DC DMV motorcycle skills test, or prove that they have completed a motorcycle demonstration course in the last six months in DC, Maryland or Virginia

The Manual

The Motorcycle Operation Manual recommended by the DC DMV discusses a number of key points that any responsible rider should be aware of. The Manual aims to answer the following questions:

  • How safe is motorcycling?
  • How does it compare to operating an automobile?
  • Are there special precautions to be aware of when operating a motorcycle?
  • What are causes of motorcycle crashes?
  • How can we prevent or reduce crashes?

Driving Rules & Tips

The DC DMV, along with the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has issued a number of rules and tips for responsible riders. The main ones are listed below.

  • Be respectful of other motorists
  • Avoid tailgating
  • Avoid riding between lanes
  • Have a strong knowledge of traffic laws and ordinances
  • Avoid making excessive noise (use an adequate muffler for noise reduction)
  • Use signals whenever necessary
  • Drive defensively

For more information on the responsible operation of a motorcycle, or to learn how to obtain your DC motorcycle endorsement, check out the DMV Study Guide, or the Motorcycle Operation Manual today. Good luck with the test and see you on the road!

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