New Hampshire aims to limit its five-year average of motorcycle fatalities to not more than 23 a year; however, due to the number of fatal crashes recorded since 2018, the state could potentially have an average of 27. According to the New Hampshire FY2023 Highway Safety Plan, there were 26 motorcycle fatalities in 2022. These statistics show that motorcycle riders must be more focused on protecting themselves, other riders, and pedestrians while on the road.
New Hampshire has over 1,000 miles of scenic and cultural byways that motorcyclists can visit. These include byways along the Lakes Region, an ideal destination in the fall, and the Merrimack Valley. Mountain rides are also available for motorcycle riders through the White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch State Park, and Twin Mountain. However, riders need to take note of the most dangerous roads in the state, which are I-93, SR-101, and SR-16. During the winter, 93 North Road can also be difficult to navigate.
New Hampshire protects motorcyclists, pedestrians, and other road users by implementing laws that aim to ensure drivers have the knowledge and skills necessary to operate a vehicle safely. These laws include measures to reduce common causes of motorcycle crashes, like impaired driving, and provide legal remedies to riders injured in accidents caused by negligent drivers.
New Hampshire Motorcycle Driver’s License Requirements
To legally ride a motorcycle on New Hampshire roads, an individual with an existing license must apply for a motorcycle driver's license endorsement, which indicates that they have met specific requirements to operate a motorcycle.
The application includes a vision test and requires drivers to provide proof of their fitness by taking either a Basic Rider Class or a motorcycle skills test at one of the DMV Motorcycle Road Testing locations. The training course is required for all applicants under 18. Additionally, a parental permission form must be signed for applicants aged 16 to 18.
Violations of this law may lead to a $100 fine.
New Hampshire Motorcycle Learner’s Permit
Upon application for the motorcycle endorsement, individuals will be issued a motorcycle learner's permit, which allows them to drive a motorcycle after sunrise and before sunset on New Hampshire roads.
To apply for a permit, an appointment must be made through the DMV’s Appointments and Services page. The requirements include a completed application form, the applicant's current driver’s license, vision and knowledge tests, and permit fees.
The learner’s permit is valid for 45 days or until the holder obtains a motorcycle license. Operating on a learner’s permit can be an important period to prepare riders for traversing public roads and help them improve situational awareness before getting the motorcycle license endorsement.
New Hampshire Motorcycle Noise Levels Law
To reduce the noise levels of motorcycles on the road, New Hampshire RSA 266:59 requires the use of mufflers in good working order and constant operation. It also prohibits the use of straight-pipe exhaust systems. Offenses may lead to fines of $100 to $500.
This law goes hand-in-hand with New Hampshire RSA 266:59A, which sets the maximum sound levels for motorcycles to:
92 decibels for motorcycles operating at idle speed
96 decibels for motorcycles with less than three or more than four cylinders operating at 2,000 rpm
100 decibels for motorcycles with three and four cylinders operating at 500 rpm.
The above requirements align with the SAE International Recommended Practice SAE J2825, “Measurement of Exhaust Sound Pressure Levels of Stationary On-Highway Motorcycles.”
Excessive motorcycle noise can be a nuisance to others and may negatively impact the environment, so riders must keep their motorcycle's noise levels within the legal limits. Any violation of this rule can lead to fines between $100 and $300.
New Hampshire Motorcycle Equipment and Gear Requirements
There are several laws and regulations regarding motorcycle equipment in New Hampshire. Street-legal motorcycles must be equipped with head, brake, and taillights, front and rear brakes; two mirrors; turn signals; and a horn.
Although New Hampshire had 19 unhelmeted motorcycle fatalities in 2021, the state has no specific laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear a crash helmet and protective body gear while riding. It only requires riders aged 18 and below to wear a helmet with either a neck or a chin strap.
However, the New Hampshire Motorcycle Operator’s Manual advises riders to wear a DOT-compliant helmet with eye and face protection. It also recommends wearing visible and protective jackets, pants, boots, and gloves.
In addition to these requirements, motorcyclists must understand their responsibilities while riding, like communicating with other road users, maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles, and being prepared with crash-avoidance skills.
New Hampshire Motorcycle DUI Law
Driving or operating a motorcycle while under the influence of drugs or liquor is prohibited in New Hampshire. Drivers will be charged with DUI if they are caught using a motorcycle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08. Riders under 21 have a lower BAC limit, which is 0.02.
The law restricts the use of intoxicating liquor and controlled drugs, including prescription drugs and natural or synthetic chemical substances, while operating motorcycles and other vehicles.
In the case of aggravated driving while intoxicated, the driver may be ordered to undergo an Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program for 12 months to two years. This means that an ignition interlock device will be installed on the vehicle registered to the offender. A breath analyzer will be connected to the vehicle's ignition system, and if the rider’s BAC is above a preset level, the vehicle will be locked, and the rider will not be able to operate it.
Penalties for DUIs include a fine of up to $1,200 and a driver’s license suspension of up to nine months for the first offense.
New Hampshire Implied Consent Law
New Hampshire has established an implied consent law for DUIs, which means motorcycle riders are deemed to have given their consent to alcohol or drug testing if they are suspected to be driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Police may request that drivers submit to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine when necessary.
If a person is pulled over and refuses to submit to chemical testing, their driver's license may be suspended for 180 days. It may be recovered only after an administrative license suspension hearing.
New Hampshire Motorcycle Law for Driving on Roadways Laned for Traffic
Motorcycle riders in New Hampshire are entitled to the full use of a lane. This means that other vehicles cannot deprive motorcycles of their own traffic lane. At most, two motorcycles are allowed to travel side by side in a single lane.
New Hampshire’s rules of the road, however, prohibit motorcycle drivers from overtaking and passing a vehicle in the same lane that the vehicle is occupying, meaning they need to use another lane to overtake. In addition, riders cannot drive on a roadway between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
Lastly, motorcycle riders are not permitted to attach their motorcycle to any other vehicle on the roadway except sidecars.
New Hampshire Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
All New Hampshire motorcycle riders must follow the minimum liability insurance requirements to operate on the road. It is a way to ensure that property damage or injuries sustained in accidents can be covered by insurance.
The minimum insurance requirements for motorcycles in New Hampshire include $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $25,000 per accident for property damage, and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, which covers incidents that involve two or more victims.
While there are minimum insurance requirements, motorcyclists may consider purchasing additional coverage for serious accidents where the minimum insurance coverage is not enough to cover the damages. Some available plans are comprehensive, collision, medical payments, and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
How Much Can One Sue for a Motorcycle Accident in New Hampshire?
Motorcycle riders have three options to pursue compensation if they have been injured in an accident in New Hampshire.
The victim can (1) file a claim with their own insurance company, (2) seek compensatory damages from the other driver’s insurance company, or (3) sue the at-fault driver in court for damages.
While New Hampshire sets no limits to how much one can receive for economic damages like medical bills, lost current and future wages, and rehabilitation expenses, it has established a cap of $875,000 on non-economic damages, covering mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. The law states that if the award for total damages during a jury trial exceeds the maximum allowable amount, the court shall reduce the damages awarded to the cap.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident in New Hampshire, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and pursue the compensation you deserve.
New Hampshire Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accidents
Personal injury lawsuits related to motorcycle accidents in New Hampshire follow a three-year statute of limitations based on the date of the accident. Property damage and wrongful death claims also have a three-year time limit.
However, there is a special rule for minors: They have two years after their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit for personal injury.
It's important for motorcycle accident victims in New Hampshire to understand these limitations and to act promptly if they seek to pursue legal action. Failure to do so within the prescribed period can result in losing the right to compensation.
New Hampshire Is a Fault State for Insurance Claims
New Hampshire is a fault state for insurance claims, and the at-fault motorist may be liable for any injuries and property damage they may have caused. Victims must be able to prove the negligence of the other driver to pursue compensation.
To determine and prove fault and liability, the injured victims must gather evidence like medical records showing the injuries sustained by the victim, witness statements including details leading up to the accident, and photographs and videos of the place of the accident.
Personal injury lawyers can help prove the other driver’s liability and protect the rights of the injured victims and their families. Attorneys can help communicate with insurance providers and even represent the plaintiff in court if fair compensation cannot be reached through negotiations.
New Hampshire Is a Modified Comparative Negligence State for Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
New Hampshire follows a modified comparative negligence law when it comes to motorcycle accident lawsuits. This means that if a motorcycle rider involved in an accident is found to be partially at fault for their injuries, their compensation may be reduced based on their degree of fault. The plaintiff may also be barred from receiving compensation if they are found to be more than 51% at fault.
For example, if a motorcycle rider is found to be 30% at fault for an accident, their compensation will also be reduced by 30%. If the rider’s damages are valued at $10,000, a 30% reduction will lead to a final award of $7,000.
Legal Resources for New Hampshire Motorcycle Accident Victims
The New Hampshire Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service connects motorcycle accident victims with personal injury attorneys who can help protect their rights and interests. In some instances, it provides discounted or even free initial consultations with selected attorneys, thus giving victims a chance to make informed choices on how to proceed with the case.
New Hampshire Legal Aid is a not-for-profit organization that provides low-income individuals and families in the state with access to justice. Its team of attorneys and advocates helps motorcycle accident victims navigate the legal process and seek compensation for the losses they have sustained. The organization assists in reviewing the available evidence, evaluating the case, negotiating with insurance companies, and even representing the plaintiff in court when necessary.
The New Hampshire DMV offers information on how motorcycle accident victims and their families can report accidents, verify insurance information, and request a copy of an accident report. The website also links to Operator’s Report Forms, Insurance Verification Forms, and Request for Motor Vehicle Records Forms.
The New Hampshire Accident Record FAQ web page includes common inquiries about accident records that can help motorcycle accident victims understand the procedures and requirements for obtaining documents and information related to their accidents.
The New Hampshire Motorcycle Operator’s Manual offers guidelines for novice and expert motorcycle riders. It covers topics like traffic laws and regulations, street strategies, best practices for carrying cargo and passengers, and crash avoidance. The manual also tackles basic vehicle control and how motorcycle riders can handle dangerous surfaces based on different weather and road conditions. Additionally, it educates drivers about hand signals, proper gear, and group riding.
The New Hampshire Traveler/Commuter Information website guides locals and travelers alike, displaying real-time travel information, state rest areas, covered bridges, and scenic and cultural byways. It also helps riders view road work zones, current traffic conditions, and highway incidents.
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