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With its captivating vistas and picturesque pathways, Idaho is an excellent destination for individuals who like to ride motorcycles for fun. However, one should remember that, like in any other state, enjoying a motorcycle ride in Idaho entails adherence to specific rules and guidelines. Understanding these is essential to avoiding legal problems and protecting oneself from accidents.

While Idaho has a readily available Motorcycle Riders’ Handbook, which aims to provide readers with up-to-date knowledge on laws and safety measures, the state has witnessed 1,759 motorcycle accidents between 2016 and 2020. These led to 121 fatalities and 1,426 injuries.

In this article, let us look at the motorcycle laws applicable in Idaho, the possible consequences of non-compliance with these legal provisions, and relevant information that motorcycle accident victims can use to determine their next steps.

Idaho Lane Splitting Laws

Lane splitting — the practice of making a motorcycle weave between lanes of traffic that are either stopped or going slowly — is not permitted anywhere in Idaho. Because of the inherent dangers involved, it has been disallowed despite petitions to make it legal and its acceptability in other states, such as California and Utah. 

Meanwhile, motorcycle riders can share lanes with other bikes, but only two can be in a single lane at a time. Under any circumstances, three or more motorcyclists sharing one lane are deemed violators and subject to penalties.

Idaho Helmet Law

Section 49-666 of the Idaho legislature states that individuals under 18 are not allowed to ride or operate a motorcycle, a motorbike, a utility-type vehicle, or an all-terrain vehicle unless they are wearing a protective safety helmet that meets the established standards. However, this rule does not apply when a vehicle is used on private property or as an implement for agricultural work.

Idaho laws specify the age requirements for wearing a helmet, but no consequences were explicitly outlined for operating a motorcycle without one. Nonetheless, wearing proper headgear while riding a motorcycle is still highly recommended. According to research conducted by the CDC, this safety measure can significantly decrease the likelihood of sustaining a head injury by up to 67%.

Red Light Law for Motorcycles in Idaho

In Idaho, it is important to come to a complete stop at the traffic light and give way to other drivers before continuing. However, if a stop light does not detect a motorcycle after one full cycle, its rider can pass through the intersection carefully. Not following these rules is an offense, and thinking that the traffic control signal was not working properly cannot be used to defend the violation.

A driver ignoring a stop sign or a red light may face a conviction, which typically incurs a fine of $90. Likewise, if a motorist is convicted of running a stop sign or red light, their driving record will receive an additional three points. Accumulating too many points can cause a driver’s license to be suspended. Still, if an offender completes a traffic safety education course, they may be able to avoid receiving any demerit points. 

Depending on the circumstances, a driver who violates a red light or stop sign may also be found guilty of reckless driving. Section 49-1401 of the Idaho Code states that one may be charged with reckless driving if it can be proven that their careless operation of a motorcycle endangered other road users or property.

Idaho Motorcycle Equipment Law

For your motorcycle to be street-legal in Idaho, it must have equipment and features that follow the set standards: 

  • A motorcycle’s headlight should illuminate objects at a distance of at least 100 feet when traveling at 25 mph or less. When a motorcycle is going between 25 and 35 mph, its headlight should illuminate objects at a distance of at least 200 feet. Additionally, when a motorcycle’s speed is over 35 mph, its headlight should light objects at a distance of at least 300 feet.

  • A motorcycle should have at least one red taillight and one red brake light.

  • A motorcycle should have at least one rear reflector.

  • A motorcycle should have at least one mirror that shows a rear view of the highway for a minimum of 200 feet.

  • A motorcycle must have fenders installed on all of its wheels.

  • A motorcycle must be equipped with a horn audible from a distance of up to 200 feet.

  • A motorcycle should have a hand- or foot-operated brake.

  • A motorcycle’s muffler should maintain the same engine noise level as the original one installed by its manufacturer.

Idaho DUI Law

Alcohol is a major contributor to many motorcycle crashes in the state, particularly those involving serious injuries and fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one death occurs every 39 minutes in the U.S. due to drunk driving. In 2021, 13,384 people died of this cause, a 14% rise from 2020. These types of accidents can be prevented if one does not consume alcohol before driving and avoids relying on their supposed alcohol tolerance. A person is deemed to be driving under the influence if their BAC level is:

  • 0.02 or higher and they are under 21 years old.

  • 0.08 or higher and they are at least 21 years old.

It should be noted that even if the result is below the BAC limit, a motorcycle driver may still face a DUI conviction. Meanwhile, a BAC level of 0.20 or higher conveys even harsher consequences.

Sanctions Upon Failure of a Breath Test

Under existing Idaho law, DUI offenses are punished more severely than in the past. Penalties are typically mandatory and are enforced by the court for at-fault parties over 21.

  • If convicted for the first time, one may face a jail term of up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, their driver's license will be suspended for up to 180 days. After the suspension ends, they must install an ignition interlock device on their motorcycle.

  • If a motorcycle driver is convicted of a second offense within 10 years, they will be required to spend at least 10 days in jail and could face up to one year of imprisonment. Additionally, they may be fined up to $2,000 and their driver's license will be suspended for one year after they are released from jail. After the license suspension, it is required to install an ignition interlock device on the vehicle.

  • If a motorcyclist has committed DUI three or more times within a decade, their conviction is considered a felony. This can result in being sentenced to the State Board of Corrections for a maximum of 10 years. They may be fined up to $5,000, and their driver's license will be suspended for one year after their release from prison. Up to four more years may be added to the suspension period. They are also required to install an ignition interlock device on their motorcycle.

Idaho Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

Minimum Liability Insurance Limits

In accordance with the insurance laws of Idaho, motorcycle owners should possess a protection plan that meets the minimum coverage limits:

  • $25,000 for death or bodily injury to one person.

  • $50,000 for death or bodily injury to two or more persons. 

  • $15,000 for damage or destruction of property.

Because these coverages might not be enough to pay for the expenses incurred in the event of an accident, the at-fault party may be held accountable for the costs that exceed their policy limits. Hence, it is advisable to purchase supplementary coverage. These include:

Coverage for Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists

Approximately 6.9% of drivers in Idaho lack an insurance plan, while an additional 10% possess an insufficient policy. Consequently, it would be wise to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in case of an accident.

Collision Coverage

This covers the policyholder’s motorcycle in the event of a collision, encompassing almost all possible scenarios.

Personal Injury Protection

In the event of an accident, having PIP coverage enables you to file a claim with your insurance company for your own injuries and property damage. This is applicable even if you are at fault for the accident. While PIP coverage is not mandatory in Idaho, it is recommended to consider purchasing this add-on for more protection and to avoid paying for your own expenses if you are the responsible party in a motorcycle crash.

Coverage for Bodily Injury

This provides financial protection for specific expenses if you cause injury or death to another person in an accident. It also offers protection for your passengers.

Comprehensive Coverage

This insurance policy covers perils such as fire, windstorms, water damage, theft, and vandalism.

Custom Part and Equipment Coverage

For individuals who own a customized motorcycle, it is advisable to acquire supplementary coverage to safeguard aftermarket components such as saddlebags, backrests, seats, and chrome pieces, in addition to unique items like handmade tanks and pipes.

Idaho Is an At-fault State for Insurance Claims

Idaho is not one of the 12 states that follow the no-fault insurance rule. Here, the insurance system is based on fault or tort; if you are involved in an accident, you must determine who is at fault before filing an insurance claim. If the other driver's insurance company denies liability, you might need to collect evidence to establish their fault. 

Retaining the services of an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can be beneficial, as they can help gather the necessary evidence to prove the other party’s fault, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and ensure that you receive the fair compensation that you are entitled to.

Idaho Is a Comparative Negligence State for Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits

Under the modified comparative negligence system that Idaho follows, a motorcycle accident victim can only receive compensation for their incurred damages if their percentage of fault is below 50%. For instance, suppose that they get $100,000 in damages but are found to have contributed 20% to the accident. In this scenario, 20% will be deducted from their damages, and their final award will only amount to $80,000. Meanwhile, a plaintiff cannot obtain damage awards if deemed 50% or more at fault for an accident.

Idaho also abides by the legal principle of modified joint and several liability. If a defendant is determined to be more than 50% liable for an accident, they can be held accountable for the entire amount of damages, regardless of the involvement of the other defendants.

How Much Can Someone Sue for a Motorcycle Accident in Idaho?

The amount of settlement a motorcycle accident victim can receive will be contingent upon the extent of the damage they have sustained. It is possible to collect and present evidence to establish that they have experienced significant harm as a result of their motorcycle accident, increasing their chances of maximizing the compensation they can get.

These include economic damages, such as loss of wages, medical bills, and rehabilitation expenses. Economic damages are relatively easy to calculate and have no cap in any way. However, determining the precise monetary value of noneconomic damages, such as emotional distress, loss of consortium, or loss of companionship, can be difficult. Section 6-1603 of the state law specifies that the maximum limit for noneconomic damages in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is $250,000. Additionally, the cap on punitive damages in cases involving willful misconduct or recklessness restricts a plaintiff's compensation to up to $250,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is higher.

Idaho Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accidents

The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident is two years from the date of the incident. Any effort to submit a claim for one’s injuries after this time limit will likely be dismissed by a court. The two-year period begins when the damage occurs, not when it is discovered. 

There are, however, some instances when the rule doesn't apply. For example, if a minor becomes injured in a motorcycle accident, their statute of limitations will only begin once they turn 18. Despite this exception, the time limit for filing a lawsuit can't be extended for more than six years, even if the person who got hurt was a minor. 

Legal Resources for Idaho Motorcycle Accident Victims

Idaho State Bar Lawyer Referral Service

The Idaho State Bar created this program to help people locate the most suitable attorney for their legal needs. The attorneys listed on the page are in satisfactory standing with the organization, have no pending disciplinary actions, and maintain professional liability insurance. They provide prospective clients with an obligation-free 30-minute consultation. Additionally, individuals with concerns related to personal injury — such as motorcycle accident victims — are not required to pay a referral fee.

Idaho Crash Reports

If you have been involved in a motorcycle crash, this online tool is helpful in acquiring a police report, which is crucial evidence when filing claims with your insurance company.

Idaho Department of Insurance

This resource aims to assist Idaho locals seeking to understand their insurance obligations. Details regarding mandatory and optional insurance policies can be found, and policyholders can file grievances against insurance providers and agents through the website. Insurance fraud may also be reported online.

Idaho Motorcycle Riders’ Manual

While the manual is primarily intended for amateur riders, it can educate all motorcyclists about safe riding habits and strategies to avoid and responsibly handle riding hazards. The Idaho Transportation Department also utilized information from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to develop skill tests to evaluate motorcyclists' knowledge of existing laws and safety practices.

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