How to Obtain an M1 Motorcycle License in California

A driver must obtain a California motorcycle license if he or she plans to operate a motorized scooter or a motorcycle on public roads in the state. Different types of motorcycle drivers licenses in CA can be obtained by drivers, including the M1 or M2 categories. The M1 motorbike driving license allows for the legal operation of specific types of two- or three-wheeled vehicles on the state’s roads. A DMV motorcycle license is only issued to drivers who can prove they are responsible and skilled enough to safely operate motorcycles, mopeds or scooters. There is no way to apply for motorcycle license online, since a written knowledge test is required, but there are ways to make an in-person DMV visit more efficient when applying for a license. A full bike license is sought out by drivers who plan to operate motorcycles, mopeds and scooters to ensure they are following the state’s laws. To find out more about motorcycle license costs, the steps to earning a license for motorcycle operation and the forms the DMV needs for submission, review the sections that follow.

What is a California M1 license?

Before researching where to get motorcycle licenses in CA, drivers should first learn about the types of two and three-wheeled vehicles covered under the M1 license. After getting your motorcycle license, the M1 allows you to operate:

  • All two and three-wheeled vehicles permitted for operation under the M2 license.
  • Any two-wheeled motorcycle.
  • A motor-driven cycle.
  • A motorized scooter.

An M1 license encompasses a variety of motorcycles and motorized scooters, including a motorized bicycle or moped. Completing the necessary steps for the successful issuance of a DMV M1 license is important for a potential motorcycle or scooter rider, because it is illegal to operate one of these types of vehicles on the road without it. Before a motorcycle license is issued, the rider must apply for the license and complete tests that confirm his or her knowledge of the safe operation of two- and three-wheeled vehicles. The testing required to earn an M1 motorcycle license keeps the rider and other drivers, passengers and pedestrians safe on the road. To find out more about the types of vehicles that qualify for operation with an M1 license in California, download our comprehensive guide.

How to Obtain a Motorcycle License in California

To apply for a motorcycle drivers license in CA, a driver must be 16 years of age or older. The regulations to apply for a motorcycle driver license are different depending on the applicant’s age and driving experience in the state. Drivers attempting to obtain a motorbike driving license in California must have carried their driving permits for at least six months if they are 18 years of age or younger. Drivers under 21 years of age applying for a DMV motorcycle license must complete a motorcycle driver safety course and submit a certificate of completion to the DMV. In addition to the motorcycle driver license safety course, an applicant who is 21 years of age and younger is also still responsible for completing a driving skills test successfully with the DMV. However, CA M1 drivers license applicants who are over 21 years of age can choose between the official motorcycle drivers safety course or completion of the driving test at the DMV to satisfy the skills test requirement.

A motorcycle M1 license cannot be obtained by drivers over the age of 18 who do not already possess a California driver’s license until they present additional documentation and identification to the DMV upon request. The additional documents that may be requested before a full bike license is issued include proof of residency in California, a birthdate or a legal presence document, including a birth certificate, a Social Security Number and the applicant’s true, legal name. Application fees are also due when applying for a motorcycle driving license in CA, and the fees may vary depending on if a safety course is required and if the applicant already obtained a California driver’s license. The DMV determines the motorcycle license cost when applying, and an applicant should learn about the mandatory fees and acceptable payment methods before visiting the DMV. Since a written test is mandatory when applying for a California motorcycle riding license, there is no way to obtain a motorcycle license online, no matter the age or experience of the applicant. To review detailed information about the application processes and steps to acquiring an M1 license in CA, download our free and informative guide.

Forms and Information Needed For a Motorcycle Drivers License in CA

The application process to obtain a license for motorcycle in California includes the submission of several forms to the DMV. Local DMV office appointments should be made by potential M1 driving license applicants, since written exams and skills tests may be necessary before licenses are issued. Drivers who are over 21 years of age and who have completed a motorcycle license driver safety course may have the in-person driving skills test waived by the DMV. However, these applicants are still responsible for successfully passing the written CA motorcycle driving license exam to prove they have adequate knowledge about motorcycle operation. Before getting your motorcycle license, a potential driver can use online practice exams and a California Motorcycle Driver Handbook to study for the written exam. Additionally, every motorcycle driver license applicant is required to complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application form and submit it to the DMV.

Before a full motorbike license is issued to an applicant, he or she must complete a vision test, provide a thumbprint and have his or her picture taken during the DMV appointment. This information is used when creating the new motorbike drivers license for the approved applicant. Motorcycle rider license applicants who are 21 years and older are not required to complete the California Motorcyclist Safety Program, but they are encouraged to attend the course, since it covers crucial safety and operation information.