Before You Ride, Know These WV Motorcycle Laws

Riding a motorcycle on the open road can be physically and emotionally exhilarating. There’s nothing quite like it – especially in the beautiful mountains and countryside of West Virginia. It’s the ultimate form of freedom. For those of us who ride, it’s not what we do. It’s who we are.

Stay Safe – Avoid the Police – Protect Your Rights

At Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law, we support our resident and visiting bikers. Whether you’re a local who is new to riding or you’ll be passing through our wild, wonderful state, we are pleased to provide a basic rundown of the West Virginia Motorcycle Laws. Understanding – and practicing – the rules of the road can help keep you and other motorists safe, help you avoid getting pulled over by law enforcement, and protect your rights if involved in an accident.

In West Virginia, all operators of motorcycles are required to be licensed and obey signs, traffic signals, and speed limits.

Motorcycle operators must be seated on the permanently attached operator’s seat and facing forward.

Side-by-side (tandem) riding is permitted as long as this method of operating the motorcycles wouldn’t otherwise be dangerous (due to road conditions, weather, etc.).

Required Gear In West Virginia

Motorcycle riders and passengers traveling on West Virginia roadways must be outfitted with the following protective gear. All equipment must be in good condition (free of cracks, frays, loose padding, and other obvious defects).

-3/4 or full-face
-Must fit snugly and be securely fastened onto head with a neck or chin strap
-Meets current ANSI Standard (Z 90.1)
-Meets United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218 or Snell Safety Standards for Protective Headgear for Vehicle Users (look for a label from the Snell Memorial Foundation)

-Shatter-resistant safety eye goggles, eyeglasses, or face shield
-Meets performance specifications established by the American National Standards Institute for Head, Eye and Respiratory Protection

Required Motorcycle Equipment In West Virginia

Motorcycles operated on West Virginia’s roadways must be outfitted with the following equipment. All equipment must be in good condition (free of cracks, frays, loose padding, and other obvious defects).

-If so equipped, must be shatter-resistant
-Constructed in accordance with Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 205 and American National Standards Institute, Safety Glazing Materials for Glazing Motor Vehicles Operated on Land Highways (Z 26.1)

-Must be attached to the handlebars or fairings
-Must be adjusted to allow a clear view of the roadway ahead and traffic to the rear to a minimum distance of at least 200 feet

-One or more
-Must be on and illuminated during operation, regardless of the time of day
-Must not be aimed higher than the center of the lamp
-Brightness must be sufficient to indicate the motorcycle’s presence from at least 100 feet away when driving less than 25 mph, or from at least 200 feet away when driving more than 25 mph

-Red brake light
-White light to illuminate rear registration plate


The following are prohibited:

-Lane splitting

-Handlebars/grips more than 15” higher than the uppermost part of the operator’s seat when not depressed in any way

-Sidesaddle riding

-More riders than the motorcycle is designed to carry
(Two may ride on the operator’s seat if so designed. A passenger may ride to the rear of the operator, provided there is a firmly attached seat with footrests. A passenger may ride in a seat within a firmly attached sidecar with seatbelt restraint. There is no rider limit as long as each passenger is provided his own seat with footrests or a sidecar seat. All seats must be designed for this purpose and firmly attached to the motorcycle.)

-Aside from the required red brake light and white rear registration light, it is prohibited to have more than 2 additional lights along the fender/side cowl.

-Running board lights that cause a glare are prohibited.

More About Safe Riding and Expectations In WV

At Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law, we encourage all motorcycle riders to ensure they receive proper operator training, practice, and learn as much as possible about their equipment before heading out the first time, as well as on an ongoing basis. Be sure to inspect the bike and all equipment before riding, perform regular preventive maintenance, avoid traveling in inclement weather, be aware of your abilities and limitations, respect others on the road, indicate your turns in advance, and utilize all information and means available to you to be as safe as possible while traveling. You can learn a little more about what is expected of motorcycle operators in West Virginia at the link below:

West Virginia Motorcycle Operator Manual

Not Wearing a Helmet? You Could be Ineligible to File a Claim

In West Virginia, personal injury and wrongful death claims are evaluated on the basis of comparative negligence which allows for modified comparative fault. What this means is that even if you followed all laws and operated your motorcycle perfectly and were hit by a reckless driver, you could be ineligible to recover compensation if you were not wearing a helmet, protective gear, or otherwise following applicable laws and operating the motorcycle responsibly.

If you are found partially at-fault for your injuries, any potential compensation you are eligible to collect will be reduced accordingly. If it is determined that your actions made you 50% or more at fault, you will be ineligible to recover any compensation at all.

Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law Has Your Back, Bikers

At Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law, we care about bikers – and we are well aware of how often attempts are made to unfairly pin blame on the smallest vehicles on the road. We welcome you to enjoy the many wonderful opportunities, sights, and activities in West Virginia – and we have your back as you pass through. Stay safe out there and enjoy the ride!

Contact Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law

West Virginia’s Most Aggressive Motorcycle Injury Law Firm

Were you or a loved one seriously injured through no fault of your own while out for a ride anywhere in West Virginia? If so, you are in the right place. Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law is West Virginia’s Top Motorcycle Accident Injury Law Firm. We know that negligent and impaired motor vehicle operators are the leading cause of preventable motorcycle accidents – and that motorcycle operators are the most vulnerable motorists out there. Most importantly, we know how to handle serious personal injury cases like yours. Our law firm is uniquely qualified and determined to work in your best interests at all times to secure the maximum possible financial compensation on your behalf. There are no upfront costs. If you are too injured to come to our office in Morgantown, we can arrange a home or hospital visit anywhere in West Virginia.

If you or a loved one were following the law, properly geared up, and suffered serious burns, broken bones, amputation, disfigurement, brain or spinal cord damage, paralysis, or catastrophic personal injury, contact us immediately. Time is of the essence! Call West Virginia’s most aggressive personal injury firm now to protect your rights with a free initial case review: (304) 292-4381.

We never yield.
We never back down.
We do not take “no” for an answer.
Choose West Virginia’s most aggressive personal injury law firm.