Do You Need a License for a Dirt Bike

Do You Need a License to Ride & Drive a Dirt Bike?

On a general note, dirt bikes are not legal to ride on roads, but most states do not require that a rider possess a license during off road use. Around 50% of states, however, place an age requirement for riders. Also, some states require minors to ride only under supervision from an adult, but some require a training certificate. The regulations vary from one state to another, but most states agree that dirt biking mustn’t constitute a noise to the people living around. In some places, the biker may get arrested.

Most OHV regions owned by the state require that the biker obtain a sticker annually before using the trail. Otherwise, he has to pay a fee. Also, racing organizations usually need riders to possess membership from associations. One notable of such organizations is the American Motorcyclist Association. As a member, several dirt biking areas will be made accessible to you. If you wish to have the right to cross the road with a dual-sport bike, you’d need a street bike license. It is always advisable to undertake the dirt driving course even if your locality doesn’t demand one. This is so that you can be aware of the basics.

Do I Have to Register My Dirt Bike?

The decision on whether you should register your bike or not is determined by several indices such as the state where you live and if you want to use it on public roads. To be able to use it on public roads, you need to meet certain requirements that have been set by your state. Therefore, we recommend that you find out the regulation guiding off-road use of dirt bikes in your state.

Must I Obtain Insurance for my Dirt Bike?

Since a dirt bike is not the same as a motorcycle, the insurance policy varies from that of the motorcycle. As we discussed earlier, you are not required to register your dirt bike in most states, which applies to insurance. However, if you would love to use public roads along with dirt roads, then your dirt bike will be treated equally as a motorcycle. Hence, you need insurance. It is good to obtain insurance coverage for your dirt bike due to the nature of the roads they travel through, which is usually dangerous. 

The insurance policy for a dirt bike is almost the same as auto-coverage, although the limits are lower. The policy covers the damage of property and injury of whoever you crashed into. This insurance is very affordable, and you can expand it to cover the medical treatment of your passenger and yourself. There is also a comprehensive policy that covers theft. You are also able to extend the insurance to cover any improvement that you make on the bike. For example, you will receive insurance compensation when you install new accessories or upgrade the functionality. The regular insurance doesn’t cover an accident that you get involved in during competition. If you would like to use your bike for competition, you should go for the motocross policy. Most insurance companies offer discounts to bikers who take part in safety courses and have an antitheft fixture installed on their bike.

Am I permitted to Drive my Dirt Bike on a Public Road?

Most laws governing on what is allowed in our streets are federal laws but enforced by local authorities. The only reason there are some different laws is that each state is allowed to add its laws to the basic federal laws. It is therefore advisable to be aware of the basic requirements of the Federal Government as regards the use of motorcycles on American roads. 

Here are a few things you can add to your dirt bikes to be legal for street use.

  • Headlight: All states in the country require that bikers have a DOT approved and fully functional headlight capable of alternating between low and high beams. Although the requirement may vary from state to state but having a headlight with high beam functionality is the best for the sake of safety. Ensure that the switch is placed at a position where you can easily reach it at any time.
  • Brake Light: A DOT approved rear light, and that also doubles as a brake light is required for you to be able to drive safely on public roads. Most states require that the battery has the capacity of powering the brake light for a minimum of 20 minutes. With the creation of LED lights, this function has been simplified since they only require a small amount of power to function. You also need a switch connected to the brake pedal and gets activated every time it is applied.
  • Turn Signals: You need to install DOT approved turn indicators. Although some states make it optional, it is required in some other states.  The turn indicators are to be installed at the headlight and tail light according to the state requirement. The switch for controlling the turn indicator is to be sited at the left handle of the bike such that the biker can easily reach for it with his finger at any point in time.
  • Wheels and Tires: For your dirt bike to be road worthy, you need to make use of DOT approved tires. The purpose for which you want to use the bike will determine the type of tire that you are supposed to mount on it. For example, if you want your bike to function as a dual-sport bike getting stock wheels will do the trick. If you’d prefer to upgrade to a supermoto bike, then you have a lot of upgrading to do on the bike.
  • Horn: The role that a horn plays when riding on a public road cannot be relegated to the background. Installing a horn is highly mandatory, but the horn type depends on the law governing the area. In some states, bikers are required to use electric horns, while in some other areas, you can even use the manual one, as long as it is loud enough to alert other people. However, we recommend that you use an electric horn due to its ease of use and loudness.
  • Rear Mirrors: You need a rearview mirror to see behind you when driving on the go. Some places require one rearview mirror, while some others require two. Take out some time to position the mirror well to give you the best view when driving.
  • License Plate Bracket: You are required to use a license plate on your bike before you can be permitted to use it on the road. A license plate bracket holds the license plate into a position where it can be easily seen. The required positioning of the license plate varies from state to state, so it will help if you consulted with appropriate authorities to make sure yours is appropriately placed. 
  • Speedometer: The use of a speedometer is not compulsory in most states. However, it is essential to have one so that you are always aware of the speed you are moving. This will also help you ensure that you remain within the law’s confines regarding the speed limit. Installing a speedometer is easy.
  • Kickstand: Although there is no federal law that requires that you have a kickstand but having one is highly important, especially if you will be using the bike on public roads.

For a dirt biker, all these are a lot of upgrades. However, you can get all this upgrade in one package where all the above kits are included. Apart from the tires, most kits will contain all the above-listed accessories with many more. Before installing, make sure the items in your kit meets the federal and state requirements. Checking with DMV will save you too much headache. However, you can go for a DIY and make the fixes yourself or go to a mechanic.


As we have discussed so far, it is illegal to use a dirt bike on public roads and there are specific tracks and trails for dirt bikers to have their adventurous expeditions. To qualify to use these tracks, you may need to register as a member of dirt biker association or pay a certain subscription fee for access. There are a few modifications you may need to make on your bike if you want to use it on and off-road. You will need to have a headlight, brake light, the right tires, etc. Instead of trying to make these fixes one at a time, you can simply purchase a package that covers all of them at once and get it fixed. Usually, most states do not require that you have any license to own or ride a dirt bike, as long as you are driving it off the road. Insurances are not mandatory for dirt bikers except they choose to use their bikes both on and off the road, which can, the insurance requirements for a motorcycle will apply.