Georgia Law of Motorcycle Lane Use and headlights and taillights (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-312)

Legal Commentary. This Georgia statute gives rules for motorcycles regarding lane use similar to Code Section 40-6-311 and gives additional requirements for a motorcycle operator that does not apply to other vehicle operators.

Regarding lane use, this Code Section permits motorcycles to use the full use of a lane and requires that a motorcycle passing another vehicle must do so in a separate lane from the vehicle being passed, similar to low speed vehicles such as a tractor as provided for in O.C.G.A. § 40-6-361. Different from the Georgia law on lane use by a low speed vehicle, motorcycles may be driven two abreast, or side by side, in a single lane but no more than two abreast in a single lane.

Interestingly, operating motorcycles are required to have headlights and taillights illuminated at all times. This is different than other vehicles being driven in the State of Georgia which requires headlights to be illuminated when it is dark outside, which can be subjective on how dark, and when it is raining. Due to this Georgia law, most motorcycles sold in the State of Georgia already have it programmed that the headlights and taillights will be illuminated when the motorcycle is turned on, without an option to turn this off unless the motorcycle itself is powered off.

This Code Section also provides for two carve outs in relation to police officers, while performing their duty as a police officer. The first carve out is permitting a police officer operating a motorcycle to pass a vehicle in the same lane of traffic the vehicle is operating in. The second police office specific exclusion is permitting police officer operated motorcycles to operate in between lanes of traffic or between lines or rows of vehicles; any other motorcycle operator is not permitted to do that under subsection (c) of this Georgia law.

We are a law firm that handles serious motor vehicle accident cases, and we provide a free initial confidential consultation to accident injury victims. To set up your free consultation, send the firm a message online or call toll-free at 1-866-972-5287 or in Atlanta at 770-717-5100. See full text below:

Section 40-6-312 Rules for lane use by motorcycles; requirement to use headlight and taillights at all times; exceptions for police officers

(a) All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane, and no motor vehicle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. This subsection shall not apply to motorcycles operated two abreast in a single lane.

(b) The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.

(c) No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.

(d) Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.

(e) A person operating a motorcycle shall at all times keep his headlights and taillights illuminated.

(f) Subsections (b) and (c) of this Code section shall not apply to police officers in the performance of their official duties.

HISTORY: Code 1933, § 68A-1303, enacted by Ga. L. 1974, p. 633, § 1; Ga. L. 1990, p. 2048, § 5.