Motorcycle Licensing in BC
Years back when I was going through the steps of obtaining my full motorcycle licence in British Columbia, I was surprised about how many people I spoke with that rode motorcycles that did not have a full licence. It was even more concerning how many people did not have a basic understanding about the restrictions associated with having anything less than a full Class 6 motorcycle licence. Obviously, it is possible to get a ticket or other sanctions if you get stopped by a police officer while driving in violation of restrictions on your licence. More importantly, however, if you are in a motor vehicle accident, you might end up having to pay for treatment expenses and other losses for yourself and other persons injured in the accident, without the benefit of any insurance coverage.
Driving in violation to the licensing provisions for motorcyclists under the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations can mean that you are not authorized and qualified by law to operate your motorcycle. This, in turn can put you in breach of section 55(3) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation, resulting in serious consequences for you if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, including loss of entitlement to Part 7 benefits. Part 7 benefits relate to disability benefits, as well as reasonable and necessary medical rehabilitation benefits, arising from an accident. These benefits are not generally dependent on who was at fault for causing an accident, so the potential loss of these benefits can be significant if you are involved in a single vehicle accident or if you are at fault for an accident in whole or in part.
There is another very significant reason for driving your motorcycle with the appropriate licence for the circumstances. If you are driving in violation of licensing requirements, then you may be held in breach of your third party liability coverage. In other words, if a pedestrian, cyclist, your passenger or someone in another vehicle is hurt and you are found at fault in whole or part, then your insurer may pursue you personally to recover any damages that it has to pay to the injured person or persons. Depending on the number of people injured and the severity of injuries, not having insurance coverage could be a financially disastrous outcome for most people.
Hopefully anyone riding a motorcycle realizes that a having a licence to operate a passenger vehicle is not enough to allow you to legally operate a motorcycle. The classes of motorcycle licences available and the steps required to obtain a motorcycle licence depend on whether you already have a BC driver’s licence.
Drivers with a full BC driver’s licence (Class 1-5)
You first have to pass the motorcycle knowledge test. If you are under 19, then you need consent from your parent or legal guardian. With this level of learner’s licence, you cannot drive over 60 kph, you cannot have a passenger, you must have a person with a full motorcycle licence within eyesight at all times and you cannot drive after dark.
After 14 days, you can take your skills test (parking lot test). You may be able to skip the skills test if you take a course at a certified rider training school. Once you pass this test, then the 60 kph restriction and the requirement to ride with a supervisor are removed. It is important to remember that your learner’s licence will expire after two (2) years.
After at least 30 days as a learner, you can take your Class 6 road test. You must have a Class 6 licence to ride with a passenger.
L & N drivers or new drivers
If you have your passenger vehicle L or N licence, then you get your motorcycle learner’s licence by passing the motorcycle knowledge test. If you don’t have your L or N yet, then you also have to pass the passenger vehicle knowledge test.
After 30 days with your L, you can take the skills (parking lot) test. You then have to have your L for at least 12 months before taking your Class 8 motorcycle road test. Once you pass, you enter the novice stage of graduated licensing for motorcycles. Restrictions at this stage are zero blood alcohol content, displaying your N and no use of electronic devices. You can only take your Class 6 road test after 24 months in the novice stage without a prohibition.
In summary, it is worthwhile to take the time to ensure that you understand and comply with any restrictions on your driver’s licence while operating a motorcycle. You may have friends and family that need the issue of motorcycle licence restrictions brought to their attention as well. In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident while riding, a loss of insurance coverage is the last thing you want to be dealing with.