A History of Maine’s Motorcycle Helmet Laws
In 1967, the state of Maine passed a mandatory motorcycle helmet law. Seven years later, motorcyclists faced fines for the first time if they were caught driving without headlights. In 1977, the Maine legislature repealed the 1967 helmet law, allowing motorcycle operators and passengers to ride without protective headgear. In 1980, another amendment to Maine’s motorcycle helmet law made it mandatory for passengers under 15 years old to wear helmets.
In 1983, Maine expanded the helmet law to require anyone with a learner’s motorcycle permit to wear a helmet. Today, Maine’s helmet requirements apply to those under 18, to individuals operating motorcycles with a learner’s permit, and to operators who completed their written and road test less than a year ago.
Current Maine Motorcycle Safety Laws and Statutes
Here are the current laws and statutes regarding motorcycles and motorcycle equipment:
- Front-mounted headlights are required on all motorcycles.
- Motorcycles must have at least one mirror adjusted to provide drivers with clear views of the road in the rear. A motorcycle rider must be able to see at least 200 feet in the distance from this mounted mirror.
- Only one or two individuals may ride on motorcycles in Maine. Second passengers must ride on permanent seats.
- Only one or two individuals are permitted to ride in an attached sidecar.
- Motorcycle handlebars cannot be higher than shoulder level of the operator.
- All motor vehicles and motorcycles in Maine must have proper muffler equipment attached to the vehicle that prevents unusual or excessive noise. Deliberate amplification of a motorcycle’s engine noise is prohibited.
- Motorcycle drivers and passengers are not required by law to wear eye protection.
- Maine motorcycle laws permit two motorcycles to ride abreast of each other in one lane.
Maine Motorcycle License Laws
- Under Maine law, you must be at least 16 years of age to apply for a motorcycle instruction permit.
- Instruction permit applicants must pass a written test, a vision test and finish Maine’s basic rider course (using the Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum) before receiving a valid motorcycle license.
- Instruction permit holders may operate motorcycles, mopeds or motor-driven cycles. However, permit holders are not allowed to ride out of state or carry passengers.
- Maine accepts out-of-state motorcycle endorsements.
Insurance Requirements for Maine Motorcyclists
Maine requires motorcycle owners to carry at least liability insurance on their motorcycles. This includes uninsured motorists coverage as well as medical payments coverage. Minimums necessary to satisfy state requirements are: $50,000 for the death/injury to any one individual; $100,000 for motorcycle accidents causing injury or death to multiple individuals; $25,000 for property damage.
Upon registering a motorcycle in Maine, operators must provide proof of insurance at the time of registration. Allowing your motorcycle insurance to lapse will result in fines and possible license suspension if you are caught driving an uninsured motorcycle.
Maine’s Inspection Sticker Law (2012)
Motorcycles registered in Maine must receive safety inspections to obtain stickers that must be “clearly and completely visible from the rear of the motorcycle”. Operators are also required to show their certificate of inspection along with their motorcycle registration when stopped by law enforcement. Inspection stickers must be mounted on the frame of the motorcycle or on a special plate that can then be attached to the rear of the motorcycle.
There are many reasons why motorcycles might fail safety inspections, but two of the most common are rear chain adjustments that are non-compliant with manufacturer specifications and motorcycles with contaminated brake drums or discs.