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Is It Legal to Ride a Motorcycle Without a Helmet in New Hampshire?

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No. As long as you are a legal adult, you do not have to wear a helmet if you ride a motorcycle in New Hampshire. Nevertheless, riders under age 18 must always wear a helmet, per Section 265:122 of the State of New Hampshire Revised Statutes. Additionally, anyone who operates a motorcycle in New Hampshire must have a current, valid motorcycle license or a motorcycle learner’s permit.

How Do I Get a Motorcycle License?

To get a motorcycle license in New Hampshire, you must pass a motorcycle rider training program or taken and passed the motorcycle skills test at the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles. New writers can also apply for a motorcycle learner’s permit by studying the Motorcycle Operator Manual (opens a PDF in a new window) and taking a written test.

The learner’s permit allows the holder to ride their motorcycle on any New Hampshire road after sunrise and before sunset for 45 days. Riders with learner’s permits may not carry passengers, and they must be 18 or older – or 16 or older with a valid New Hampshire driver’s license.

Other New Hampshire Motorcycle Laws You Should Know About

Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as all other drivers on public roads and highways.

Motorcycles must also be equipped with lights, signals, flashers, and flags as outlined in Section 266:31. Notably, most motorcycles need to have headlamps, stop lamps (brake lights), directional signals (turn signals), and a red reflector.

Section 266 also sets noise limits for motorcycles and establishes rules for handlebars, footrests and mirrors, sidecars, and trailers.

When it comes to riding, motorcyclists must sit astride the seat, facing forward, with one leg on each side of the motorcycle, and with both hands on the handlebars. Motorcyclists may not carry passengers unless their motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person, or the motorcycle is equipped with a sidecar. You can find these rules in the Special Rules for Motorcycles section of Title XXI Motor Vehicles.

Lane splitting is illegal in New Hampshire, and motorcyclists may not ride more than 2 abreast in a single lane of traffic. As Section 265:121 explains:

No person shall drive a motorcycle on a roadway between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”


Motorcycles shall not be driven more than 2 abreast in a single lane.”

Section 265:121 also makes it illegal for any motor vehicle to deprive a motorcyclist of the full use of a lane.

A Note About Helmets

Although New Hampshire allows adults to make their own decisions when it comes to wearing motorcycle helmets, you should always wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle.

You may not face fines or other consequences but failing to wear a helmet can be construed as contributory negligence if you ever need to take a motorcycle accident case to court.

For more information about this topic, please read “How Does Not Wearing a Helmet Affect Liability in a Motorcycle Accident Case?

Meanwhile, if you have been harmed in a motorcycle accident and need help moving forward, you can always contact Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. No matter the details of your case, we are ready to fight for you, and we have been fighting for New Hampshire motorcyclists since 1997.

Trust a team with more than a century of collective legal experience – call us at (603) 288-1403 or send us a message online to schedule your free consultation today.