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Motorcycle Equipment Violations

New York traffic ticket lawyers know that custom motorcycles are often the norm rather than the exception to the rule. For as long as hogs and sports bikes have ruled, the road bikes have been customized. This tradition goes back to the early Curtiss Motorcycles that broke the land speed records at the turn of the century, the days of board track racing in the roaring twenties, and major motion picture hits like the Wild One with Marlon Brando and his custom Triumph Thunderbird 6T. Fast forward to today and almost everyone on the road has a modified exhaust, custom handlebars, chopped fenders, or modified turn signals. Many of these modifications are against the law in New York, and can lead to fines or jail time. Although the fines may not seem serious, insurance companies often increase rates based on traffic infractions and a person can feel the financial sting of a single ticket for years to come. Furthermore, depending on how flagrantly one violates the law, and how serious that person’s history of traffic violations is, being jailed is a real possibility.


As per New York Vehicle and Traffic law §381, to keep your ride legal you should avoid these common modifications: An exhaust that increases the noise output of your motorcycle, a windshield that is not produced by the original equipment manufacturer or otherwise certified by the Department of Transportation, integrated, deleted, or otherwise modified turn signals that are not approved by the New York Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, ape hangers or other handlebars that raise the rider’s hands above their shoulders, a chopper front end without front brakes on bikes manufactured after 1971, a custom headlight that has not been approved by the New York Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, removing both mirrors, mufflers that with baffles that can be removed, straight pipes, or any other exhaust that increases the volume of the bike. Believe it or not, getting ticketed for any one of these violations can be punished by a maximum penalty of a $100.00 fine per violation, and 30 days in jail.

Another common violation, often seen on sports bikes, some form of license plate that is tucked beneath the fender and bent, either by hand or by the rear tire of the motorcycle. There are often various reasons for this. Many desire to avoid tolls, some do not want to be identified by other car drivers or the police, and some simply think it is stylish. Some bikers argue that the license plate is adequately displayed in this position and should not be a reason to be pulled over and ticketed, however, VTL 402 1(b) explicitly states that any sort of modification that obscures the license plate, makes it dirty, or otherwise makes it not “easily readable”, is unlawful. The fine for this particular violation can range between $25.00 and $250.00.

Police commonly charge motorcyclists with custom bikes with a number of equipment violations so that the tickets pile up. Pleading guilty to such tickets, could under the worst circumstances, lead to a rather severe jail sentence of longer than 30 days in jail and expensive fines. Traffic tickets are nothing to shake off and ignore either, penalties become more severe if tickets are not answered in a timely fashion. An attorney can help you get the best possible outcome if you are charged with a violation relating to the equipment on your motorcycle. Please give us a call for a free over the phone consultation to see if we can help.

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