Why Do You Need a License For a Dirt Bike?

You do not need a license to ride a dirt bike off-road, as well as on your private property. However, if you want to ride it on public roads then you need a license and your bike should be street-legal to meet all your state’s laws.

Why you do not need a license for off-roading?

Dirt bikes are designed for off-road use and they are not equipped with parts that comply with a particular state’s law. That’s why you don’t need a dirt bike license for off-road riding. But for a dual-purpose ride, you have to follow your state’s law and do some modifications to make them street-legal and eligible for a license.

Though each state’s laws are different yet the distinction between mopeds and motorcycles specified by U.S. law is quite the same. Dirt bikes fall under the category of motorcycles and therefore you have to follow the guidelines for motorcycles to get your dirt bike license.

Places to ride dirt bikes without a license

The first place to ride a dirt bike without a license is public property. Either it’s your own property or you know someone with private land, you just need their grant to ride your bike. Along with that, you can also go to

  • Public motocross tacks including practice tracks, table-tops, and elevation changes.
  • National forests with their large areas and dirt bike trails. 
  • At Bureau of Land Management or BLM lands. They have a large area and you are allowed to ride dirt bikes without a permit.
  • Sand dunes, beaches, campgrounds, and converted railroad tracks are also the favorite destinations of dirt bike riders where no license is needed.

Laws about dirt bike license

Though there are no specific regulations about dirt bike licensing in the U.S., yet in some states, there is a distinction and you may have to follow their local guidelines to get a permit. Or license or sometimes both.

Age requirements

Age requirements differ according to different states, yet you have to fulfill the given criteria to qualify for a license

  • You should be at least 15-16 years old.
  • You must pass the vision screen and written motorcycle exam.
  • Complete a driver’s education course.

If you are 16 and applied for a license then you have to go through some training and testing requirements and an approved motorcycle safety course.

Training requirements 

Though this course is optional and will take 2-4 days of in-person training sessions with your instructor, acquiring it will help you to learn about

  • Dirt bike anatomy
  • Proper riding gear
  • Safe riding strategies
  • Motorcycle-specific traffic laws
  • Special defensive maneuvers

Test requirements

  • They begin with a written test that includes dirt bike terminologies, techniques, state laws, and safety rules.
  • You will then give a riding test under daylight and within the supervision of a licensed motorcyclist.
  • This is the last step to be a licensed dirt bike rider. In this step, they will test your maneuverability to tackle a situation like brakes, acceleration, safe and quick turns, etc.

License Safety Inspection Items

The dirt bike when under inspection must have the following parts to be eligible for a license

  • Starter
  • Clutch
  • Kill switch
  • Throttle
  • Headlight
  • Tail light
  • Gear selector
  • Brakes
  • Horn
  • Turn signals

Dirt bike license requirements for different states

Washington DC

According to the laws of this state, you do not need a dirt bike license to ride it on private property. You will also not need a license to ride a dirt bike within the state unless you need to ride it on public roads. 

To make your dirt bike street legal you have to equip your dirt bike with all necessary parts like headlights, taillights, horns, mirrors, fenders, etc. Dirt bike licensing in Washington DC also requires that

  • The rider must be above 16 years old and must be accompanied by a legal adult, a kids helmet, and safety gear.
  • Your dirt bike must be registered with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • You have to take the test from an approved motorcycle safety training school.
  • You must apply for the license within 180 days of completing this test.
  • If you are under 18, then your parent or a guardian has to sign a consent form at the license office.


According to California law, dirtbikes stand in the M2 category for 2-wheel vehicles. To earn a dirt bike license in California, you need to fulfill the following requirements

  • Driver education or behind-the-wheel driver certification is a must for minors or those under 15-17 years old.
  • Certification of complete motorcycle training
  • Parents/Guradins signature
  • Pass vision test, applicable knowledge, and skill tests
  • Pay required fee


For those who do not have a current Texas dirt bike license or for minors, they must complete the following requirements as an original applicant:

  • Submit a Motorcycle Safety Course completion certificate added with a Class C Provisional license.
  • Minors or Parent taught Driver Education students should submit a Driver Education completion certificate, a Class C learner License, and a completion certificate of a 32-hour driver education course.
  • They should also be accompanied by a parent to provide an authorization signature, a Verification of Enrollment (VOE) form by a school official and must pass the mandatory skills exam.

How to get your dirt bike licensed?

  • After purchasing a dirt bike, apply for a title within the first 15 days. Otherwise, you may have to pay the penalty fees.
  • Get your bike’s plates and registration before driving it on public roadways. 
  • You have to get yearly registration for your dirt bike as its registration will expire after a year.
  • Your dirt bike must be inspected by your state’s licensed bike repair shop or dealer.
  • Once they do the inspection, ask them to complete and sign Part 1 of the ORV Highway Use Declaration form.
  • Make sure that all the above-mentioned safety items must pass the inspection otherwise your form will not be accepted at the licensing office.

 After that, submit the below-mentioned necessities to licensing office:

  1. A completed and signed Motorcycle Highway Use Declaration form.
  2. Attach a copy of the receipt that shows your payment verification for the safety inspection.
  3. A title for the bike.

Once you completed this process, you will receive a printed title and registration stating “modified for on-road use”. This will make your dirt bike street-legal and you will also receive an ORV decal and a dirt bike license plate to ride it on public roads.

Frequently Asked Questions | Do You Need A License For a Dirt Bike?

1: How Old Do You Have To Be To Get a Dirt Bike License?

The minimum age requirement to ride a dirt bike in most of the states is 15-16 years old. However, minors can also practice riding under adult and experienced rider supervision.

2: Do you need a license to ride a 125cc dirt bike?

No, you do not need a license to ride a 125cc dirt bike while off-roading. Yet to ride it on public roads, your dirt bike should be street-legal and licensed.

3: Do you need a license for a dirt bike in NY?

You do not need a license for off-road riding in NYC. However, there is an age limit for a rider, and he should be 16 years or older.

4: Why are dirt bikes illegal in California?

Dirt bikes are not illegal for off-road riding in California. But they must be equipped with the necessary parts to make them street-legal for public roads.


Though a dirt bike license is not required for off-road riding. But if you have a plan to ride it on public streets then you will definitely need a license. To get a dirt bike license, you have to make them street legal and meet your state’s recommended criteria. 

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