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I was recently contacted by a mother asking what the minimum legal age is for a passenger on a motorcycle.  She was concerned because her child’s father was carrying her three year old as a passenger and she felt it was unsafe and dangerous.  She did not give any specifics as to their marital status, custody of the child, state of residence, etc. so in order to address her concerns, and those of anyone else who may be interested, I will address her question on a state by state basis.

Laws vary by state and I found it difficult to reach anyone who could provide an answer to this question in Alabama.  I did find out that the person who can provide this type of information in Alabama is the Chief Examiner for Drivers Licensure, currently Capt. Rush.  His office number is 334-353-1974. 

In some states, information can be obtained from the DMV, however, please note that there is a completely UNOFFICIAL website on the internet that is titled “DMV.org”.  One would assume from the name, it is the official site of the Department of Motor Vehicles, so when searching for answers to important questions make certain you are speaking with an authorized agent with access to the latest revisions of the laws. 

Some states that have no legal minimum age for a passenger, do at least stipulate that the child must be able to reach the foot pegs on the motorcycle.  IF you live in a state with helmet laws, the passenger, regardless of age, must wear a properly fitting helmet.  For very young children it may be difficult to find a properly fitting helmet, but the matter would certainly be open to conjecture as to how a judge would rule on whether or not it did fit properly.

While the laws usually prohibit carrying a passenger without the motorcycle being outfitted with a passenger seat and passenger footrests, there may or may not be an easily found specific notation that the passenger has to be able to reach the footrests.  Check the wording of the current law in your particular state for a proper understanding of how it reads. 

The following information is taken from the AMA (American Motorcycle Assoc.) website, and to obtain it, I searched each state individually.  When possible, I compared the information to what I could find posted by the appropriate office within that state.  If you find yourself in need of legal assistance, I urge you to verify the information as it can change at any time depending on the passage of legislation within in any state.  Laws can be interpreted differently based on circumstance, or reliability of the source quoting them, so for specifics in regard to this and other questions, consult a qualified attorney in your state of residence for current applicable laws.  Helmet laws are given here only as they may have a bearing on the legal minimum age of a passenger.  Vrumblesramblingbikerblog.  Dated:  May, 2012.

ALABAMA:  There is NO restriction on the minimum age for a motorcycle passenger.  A rider who carries a passenger is required to have a passenger seat and footrest, and both rider and passenger are required to wear a helmet.

ALASKA:  No minimum age for a passenger.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets are required for operators under age 18, and for all passengers regardless of age.

ARIZONA:  No minimum age for a passenger.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets are required for all operators and passengers under age 18.

ARKANSAS:  Persons under age 8 are prohibited from riding as a passenger on a motorcycle.  Passenger seat and foot rest are required.  Riders and passengers under the age of 21 are required to wear a helmet.

CALIFORNIA:  No minimum age for a passenger.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets are required, see California Vehicle Code Section 27803.

COLORADO:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Riders and passengers under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet.

CONNECTICUT:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet is required under age 18. 

DELAWARE:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Riders and passengers must have an approved helmet in their possession.  Riders up to 19 must wear helmets. 

FLORIDA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required. Helmets are not required for riders over 21 providing they carry a minimum of $10,000. In medical insurance.

GEORGIA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required. Helmets are required.

HAWAII:  Minimum legal age for passengers is 7.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets required under age 18.

IDAHO:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets required under age 18.

ILLINOIS:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  No helmet requirements.

INDIANA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets required under age 18.

IOWA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets not required.

KANSAS:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required under age 18.

KENTUCKY:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required for novice riders, under the age of 21, and instructional permit holders.

LOUISIANA:  Minimum age for passengers is 5.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets are required.

MAINE:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets required under 18, operating with a learner’s permit, operating less than one year with license/endorsement; passenger is subject to the same restrictions as the operator.

MARYLAND:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets required.

MASSACHUSETTS:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets required for riders and passengers, including passengers in sidecars.

MICHIGAN:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  The site states helmets are required, however, this is a good example of how laws can change, and why riders should stay current on their status.  Michigan recently reversed this decision.  Consult Michigan law for exact stipulations.

MINNESOTA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets required under age 18 and for instructional permit holders.

MISSISSIPPI:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required by law.

MISSOURI:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required.

MONTANA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmets required under age 18.

NEBRASKA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required.

NEVADA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required under 18.

NEW JERSEY:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet with reflectorization required.

NEW MEXICO:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet with reflectorization required.

NEW YORK:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required.

NORTH CAROLINA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required.

NORTH DAKOTA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet with reflectorization required.

OHIO:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required for novice riders, under age 18, and passengers are subject to the same requirements as the riders.

OKLAHOMA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required under 18.

OREGON:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required.

PENNSYLVANIA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet optional 21 or older if licensed not less than 2 full calendar years or has completed an approved motorcycle rider safety course.  Passengers exempt if 21 or older.

RHODE ISLAND:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required under 21 and novice riders, required for passengers.

SOUTH CAROLINA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet with reflectorization required under 21.

SOUTH DAKOTA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required under 18.

TENNESSEE:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required.

TEXAS:  Minimum age for passengers 5, unless seated in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required under 21.  Over 21, must show proof of successful completion of rider training or hold medical insurance covering injuries resulting from an accident while on the motorcycle.

UTAH:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required under 18.

VERMONT:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet with reflectorization required.

VIRGINIA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required.

WASHINGTON:  Minimum age for passengers 5.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required.

EST VIRGINIA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet with reflectorization required.

WISCONSIN:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required under 18 and for instructional permit holders.

WYOMING:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required under 18.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required.

PUERTO RICO:  No minimum age for passengers.  Passenger seat and footrest are required.  Helmet required.

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