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Motorcycle License Endorsements for the Military. Peter J Hill, PE, CSP Safety Engineer Headquarters Marine Corps Safety Division. Motorcycle License Poll. Thanks to all who responded! Summary 20 States responded 16 allow Military to receive Endorsement by mail

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Motorcycle license endorsements for the military

Motorcycle License Endorsements for the Military

Peter J Hill, PE, CSP

Safety Engineer

Headquarters Marine Corps Safety Division

Motorcycle license poll
Motorcycle License Poll

  • Thanks to all who responded!

  • Summary

    • 20 States responded

    • 16 allow Military to receive Endorsement by mail

    • 18 accept the Military Sponsored BRC for license waiver

      • ~2 States (possibly more) require the member to have a motorcycle permit first from the home State (knowledge test/DMV visit)

      • ~11 of the 18 accept any MSF or State-recognized BRC equivalent

    • 6 States require a Legislative process to change Motorcycle License Requirements

Motorcycle license endorsements
Motorcycle License Endorsements

  • Nationally and among military, unlicensed (non-endorsed) riders are over-represented in accidents

  • Military has shifted focus…

    • Military is accepting completion of any training accepted by a State for license waiver for its initial training requirement

    • 10 years ago – BRC, 30+ day wait, Wear “Vest”, endorsement required, but no real push

    • Today – Training Continuum, Average <10 day wait, Mentoring, Choose Right Gear, Semper Ride, increased emphasis on license endorsement

      • Cutting people slack on a fundamental requirement sends the message that the rules are not that important

Motorcycle license dilemma


Training and Motorcycle Endorsement Required

Motorcycle License Dilemma

OK, Come home and retake the course in Louisiana

Hey Louisiana, I am stationed in California, bought a bike and need my endorsement on my LA license.

Too bad. For Louisiana you have to take OUR course.

I can’t. Have to deploy in 4 weeks. I took the BRC on base though.


I guess I’ll have to change my license to California…

Riders “Under the Radar”- Over-Represented in Crashes- No Training Opportunities- No Riding Mentorship- Risk Disciplinary Action- Risk Local Traffic Violations- Promote attitude of Non-Compliance

If I can’t get endorsement I won’t be allowed to ride – I guess I better not tell my Sergeant that I have a bike

Training endorsements
Training & Endorsements

  • Service Sponsored training and most State Programs substantively meet the MSF Basic Rider Course curriculum

  • The rider who does the right thing and gets training should be rewarded – not told they have to repeat essentially the same training in another jurisdiction

  • Serves Public Safety by getting riders trained and in license compliance


  • The Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act of 2003 (SCRA) authorizes military members to retain residency in their State of domicile while on active duty

  • This law is intended to exempt the member from State residency laws related to driver license, vehicle registration, and taxation issues, and alleviate the need and expense of changing residency with each military transfer

  • Under SCRA, States universally allow a number of accommodations for military members who do not have a physical presence in their State

    • License renewal or extension by mail or online

    • Vehicle registration by mail or online

    • Absentee voting

Scra and the motorcycle endorsement
SCRA and the Motorcycle Endorsement

  • Based on SCRA, we advocate

    • Reasonable means for the military motorcycle rider to add the endorsement without requiring a physical appearance in the State

    • Motorcycle endorsement processes similar to license issuance and renewal already provided to military members

  • We do not advocate providing the endorsement without proof of training

Some reasonable provisions
Some “Reasonable Provisions”

  • Military members, and their dependents, while the member remains on active duty, may receive a motorcycle endorsement on their license upon presentation of evidence of completion of:

    • Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic Rider Course

    • Military service sponsored initial motorcycle training accepted under DODI 6055.04

    • The training program accepted by any other State for the purposes of a license waiver

  • Endorsement issued under this provision may expire at the next renewal date of the license following the member’s discharge from active duty

    • Process after discharge and return to the home State is up to the State


  • Reduced Burden and Cost

    • To military member, not having to travel home, spend leave time in DMV line

    • To State, Mail versus “in-person” transaction

  • Public Safety – Riders trained and licensed sooner

  • Military Program – Seen by members as helping them to get their license with their home State

    • Removes “Barriers” to other areas of compliance

  • Quote: “Why would we NOT do this?” (Chairman of Virginia Governor’s Motorcycle Safety Committee)

Allow Military to get endorsement by mail.

-Director, DMV


  • Hardest: State legislation prescribes program for MC endorsement

    • Fix: Get State Legislature to pass a bill making the change

  • Easier: No Legislative Prohibition, but DMV Regulations require change

    • Fix: Regulatory Change; may require public comment period and more protracted review and approval

  • Easiest: Issue not addressed in legislation or regulations, or is solely a matter of DMV policy

    • Fix: Develop and promulgate new policy

What next
What Next?

  • Determine the construct in your state

  • Assemble a team to act as change agent

    • Cognizant DMV Motorcycle Focal Point

    • Legislators who are riders/advocates of rider issues

    • Executive Branch – Governor Safety Councils or other advocates

    • Trade Associations, Lobbyists, MSF Coordinator

    • Military Reps knowledgeable on rider issues

  • Avoid other contentious issues

    • Keep focus on the main issue – avoid getting tangled up in helmet laws or other lightning rod areas

  • Implement and Advertise!

    • Service Reps

    • MSF

    • AMA

    • AAMVA

We Did It!


  • While military riders may exist in higher concentrations around bases, and motorcycle riders represent a higher percentage of the military than the population at large, military riders represent a statistically lower risk to public safety than the population at large

  • Services provide greater oversight and accountability on member riders than exists in the population at large

    • Required initial rider training

    • Required periodic refresher training

    • Command notification and Base registration

    • Opportunities for Club and Mentorship activities

    • More severe penalties for infractions such as loss of pay or rank, restriction, etc. which do not require same due process

    • Significantly lower incidence of DUI among motorcycle riders

Florida motorcycle synopsis
Florida Motorcycle Synopsis

  • Military Applicants stationed outside of Florida

    • Complete a military-sponsored or MSF-approved motorcycle safety course.

  • Send the completion card from the course, along with a $15 check or money order and a request for a duplicate license with a motorcycle endorsement, to the Division of Driver Licenses

Virginia motorcycle synopsis
Virginia Motorcycle Synopsis

  • HB 1873 Changed existing legislation:

    Any person who holds a Virginia driver’s license and is a member, the spouse of a member, or a dependent of a member of the United States Armed Services shall be issued a motorcycle classification by mail upon documentation of (i) successful completion of a basic motorcycle rider course approved by the United States Armed Services and (ii) documentation of his assignment outside the Commonwealth.

  • Concept presented at Governors Council Nov 08; legislation written, passed and signed into law; effective July 01 2009.

Washington motorcycle synopsis
Washington Motorcycle Synopsis

  • Military Applicants stationed outside of Washington

    • Complete another State’s or military-sponsored or MSF-approved motorcycle safety course.

  • Send the completion card from the course, along with a $25 fee to receive the motorcycle endorsement

Pennsylvania motorcycle synopsis
Pennsylvania Motorcycle Synopsis

  • Military Applicants stationed outside of Pennsylvania

    • Complete form DL-298

  • Send documentation of completion on military letterhead with a $48 fee to add the motorcycle endorsement