If you own and ride a motorcycle, it’s essential to be aware of the fact that motorcycle laws vary from state to state, especially in regards to lane splitting, lane filtering, and lane sharing. You should keep up-to-date with your state’s regulations, or any other states that you might plan to drive through.
Lane splitting, also called white-lining or stripe riding, is when a two-wheeled motorized vehicle overtakes another vehicle within the same lane or operates between lanes. A subset of lane splitting is lane filtering. Lane filtering is when a two-wheeled motorized vehicle lane splits, but only when the surrounding vehicles have either stopped moving or are moving slowly, i.e., at a red light or during congestion.
Lane sharing is a related concept but significantly different. Lane sharing is when two motorized vehicles agree to ride in the same lane, either side-by-side or in a staggered formation.
Below are all the laws regarding lane splitting, according to each of the 50 states.
Lane splitting is not permitted by law and can result in a ticket. Motorcycles are viewed the same as other vehicles in the fact that they cannot share lanes with cars or pass other vehicles in the same lane. However, two motorcycles may share a lane side-by-side or staggered.
Motorcycle lane splitting is not legal in Alaska. However, lane sharing is legal, and two motorcycles can ride beside each other, or slightly staggered, in the same lane.
Lane splitting in Arizona is currently illegal. However, as of January 2020, a new bill was created to make the practice legal. The state government is currently considering it.
Lane splitting is not mentioned in Arkansas law. This technically makes it legal by default, but motorcyclists should ride with caution and refer to local regulations.
Since 2016, lane splitting has been entirely legal in the state of California. It is one of the only states in the entire country to legalize the practice specifically. Before that, laws regarding the practice were ambiguous, and it was neither legal nor illegal.
When lane splitting in California, motorcycles cannot go more than 10 miles per hour above the surrounding traffic flow. Lane split while traffic is going more than 30 miles per hour is also discouraged. You cannot lane split near freeway exits or on-ramps.
Regular motorists are not allowed to intentionally block a motorcycle from being able to lane split, and doing it in a way that could cause harm is illegal. For example, opening doors in the vehicle so that motorcyclists cannot get around is entirely unlawful.
A year after passing the new law, California saw a 30% reduction in fatalities from motorcycles and found that with more freedom to move between lanes, motorcyclists were less likely to be hit from behind by other vehicles.
More details can be found on the California Highway Patrol website.
Lane splitting in Colorado is explicitly prohibited and can result in a fine and even points on your license. Colorado also prohibits lane sharing with vehicles (though it allows sharing with other motorcycles) and passing any other vehicle in the same lane. Motorcycles must behave exactly like cars and pass only in an empty lane.
Lane splitting is currently illegal in Connecticut. However, there is presently a bill sitting in the Senate, proposing to make it legal. It’s possible that the bill could pass, making the practice legal in the future.
Delaware law does not make mention of lane splitting, so it is not explicitly illegal. It is, therefore, technically legal by default. Riders should use caution, refer to local regulations, and be aware that police could choose not to permit it either way.
Lane splitting is illegal in the state of Florida. Motorcyclists who practice lane splitting could receive a citation or be held liable in an accident. Lane filtering is also illegal.
Both lane splitting and lane filtering are expressly illegal in Georgia. If you are part of an accident while you were lane splitting, you will most likely be blamed. However, lane sharing with no more than two motorcyclists is allowed.
Although lane splitting in Hawaii is illegal, the state has sanctioned an alternative, or rather, modified version. Most of Hawaii’s lanes are too narrow to allow for lane splitting safely, but their shoulders have more space. Shoulder surfing is now legal for motorcyclists.
Motorcycles are allowed to pass on the shoulders only when traffic has come to a stop. They are not permitted to go past 10 miles per hour while doing so. The motorcyclists must be moving in the same direction as the adjacent lane and cannot make any turns from a shoulder.
While this adjusted version of lane filtering is legal, it only applies in designated areas throughout the state.
Both lane splitting and lane filtering are illegal in the state of Idaho. If a motorcyclist is found to be lane splitting at the time of an accident, they will probably be held at fault for the collision.
Lane sharing, however, is legal in Idaho, and motorcyclists can share a lane with one other motorcycle.
Illinois does not explicitly prohibit lane splitting, but it does not allow it either. There are several regulations written into the law, such as right-of-way and passing rules, that essentially make it prohibited.
Lane filtering among stopped cars is also not permitted. The only practice which is allowed by Illinois law is lane sharing with only one other motorcycle or two-wheeled vehicle — and only in three or four-lane highways. In this respect, a motorcyclist may pass another bike within his same lane.
Indiana law prohibits the practice of lane splitting. Its law also states that a vehicle cannot drive in a way that prevents another vehicle from using the traffic lane fully. They view this as encroaching on the space of a full lane that another driver is entitled to.
Lane sharing is allowed, but side-by-side riding is highly discouraged. Instead, the state promotes a staggered formation.
Lane splitting is explicitly illegal in Iowa law. It is written that motorcycles or motorized bicycles cannot be operated in between lanes and that motorcycles cannot pass other vehicles on the road within the same lane. The only exception to this rule is if the vehicle being passed is another motorcycle.
Lane splitting in Kansas is illegal and can result in a citation. Motorcycles also cannot overtake another vehicle in the same lane. Lane sharing with another motorcycle is permitted. However, be aware that the law also states that every motorcycle must be entitled to a full lane.
Like many other states, lane splitting in Kentucky falls into a legal grey area as the law does not make mention of it. This often leaves things open to interpretation between the rider and local law enforcement, and could potentially result in the rider being at fault in the case of an accident.
Lane splitting, including lane filtering, is illegal in the state of Louisiana. Motorcyclists are not allowed to overtake another vehicle within the same lane or operate between lanes. Louisiana does permit lane sharing with two motorcycles riding side-by-side in the same lane.
Lane splitting is illegal in Maine; this includes lane filtering at a slowed pace. Maine is a comparative negligence state, which means that if a motorcyclist is found to have been lane splitting at the time of an accident, they will most likely be at fault and have their legal recovery reduced.
It is illegal to lane split in the state of Maryland. However, recent legislation has introduced the idea of legalizing it. House Bill 917 would make it legal for motorcycles to go between lanes between 5 and 15 miles per hour above the traffic around them.
If passed, it would also allow for lane filtering at red lights with stopped cars. The bill has not seen much movement, so it’s unsure if the practice will become legal in the future.
In the state of Massachusetts, the practice of lane splitting is illegal. According to the law, each vehicle must operate solely within one lane of traffic and must pass single-file. They can participate in lane sharing and riding side-by-side with only one other motorcycle or two-wheeled motor vehicle.
Lane splitting in the state of Michigan is not legal. This includes lane filtering. Both of these practices can result in a citation. Lane sharing is allowed, as long as there are only two motorcycles next to each other in the lane. Motorcycles are entitled to use a full lane if they wish.
Lane splitting in Minnesota is illegal. The law states that the privilege is only given to on-duty police officers. Two motorcyclists can share the same lane with consent. In essence, lane splitting and lane filtering are not allowed, but lane sharing with another motorcycle is.
Lane splitting in Mississippi is not officially legal, but it has not been explicitly illegal either. Use caution as local law enforcement might decide otherwise it’s illegal.
A bill was introduced in 2016 suggesting the legalization of lane splitting under certain circumstances. The bill proposed that lane splitting be permitted if traffic is moving at a speed of fewer than 30 miles per hour. It would make a vehicle trying to impede a motorcyclist’s right to lane split under these conditions subject to a misdemeanor. The bill has yet to move, but could potentially be passed in the future.
Lane splitting is not illegal in Missouri law, but it is also not completely legal. Motorcyclists could still face penalties if local law enforcement decides that it is not safe.
Lane splitting is generally frowned upon in Missouri, and motorcyclists, more often than not, are blamed for an accident if they were practicing it at the time.
Lane splitting in the state of Montana falls into a legal grey area and is not explicitly permitted.
A bill was introduced in 2017 that would make lane splitting legal, allowing motorcyclists to move between lanes at a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour as long as the surrounding traffic is moving under 10 miles per hour. The bill has still not passed.
Lane splitting is illegal in the state of Nebraska. Doing so can result in a citation and/or fine, as well as liability should an accident occur. The liability laws of Nebraska include contributory negligence, which means that if a motorcyclist is doing something illegal at the time of an accident, it’s likely the compensation they might receive for injury and damage would be reduced. They could also be liable for damages to the other driver.
Nevada prohibits the practice of lane splitting and lane filtering, making them both illegal. The legislation was introduced with the intent to allow for lane filtering under 10 miles per hour, and very nearly succeeded, but was ultimately voted down.
Lane sharing is allowed with no more than two motorcycles side-by-side in the same lane. They both must agree to it.
You cannot lane split in the state of New Hampshire. The legislation was introduced in the past to try and change the prohibition of it. A bill created in 2016 would make it legal to practice lane filtering while surrounding traffic is going 10 miles per hour or less. The bill has not yet passed, and so it is yet unforeseen if lane splitting or lane filtering will become legal in New Hampshire.
Although lane splitting in New Jersey is not authorized or unauthorized, it is viewed as technically illegal. Motorcycle riders who lane split could be given a citation for failure to keep right. The New Jersey driver’s manual states that one can ride in between stopped vehicles and also discourages lane sharing.
Lane splitting is prohibited in New Mexico. If you practice lane splitting in New Mexico, you could be accused of reckless driving.
Lane splitting is currently illegal in New York. The law states that all motorcyclists are entitled to use the full space of a lane, and therefore must act in the same way other vehicles do.
Be aware that traffic laws within parts of New York City are often not enforced because of the population and traffic “culture.” Though you might witness many others practicing lane splitting in the city, it is still under the jurisdiction of the state and is illegal.
Although riders in North Carolina are permitted by law to share lanes, it is not as clear on whether they are allowed to practice lane splitting or lane filtering. It’s possible that if an accident occurs while lane splitting, the motorcyclist may be held responsible, but it is open to interpretation.
The motorcycle law in North Dakota expressly forbids the practice of lane splitting or filtering, stating, “The operator of a motorcycle may not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken. No person may operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”
Lane sharing is allowed with two motorcycles side-by-side.
Ohio views lane splitting as unsafe and unacceptable, and it is, therefore, illegal. Lane filtering is also prohibited, but lane sharing is legal and can be done with two motorcycles side-by-side within one lane.
Lane splitting is illegal in the state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma Statute §47-11-1103 specifically forbids lane splitting or filtering for any two-wheeled motor vehicles, including motorcycles, electric bicycles, and mopeds. The only exception is for law enforcement vehicles.
Lane splitting is illegal in Oregon, but there is currently legislation on the table to make it legal. A bill was introduced in 2018, which did not pass, but another bill, House Bill 2314 would allow motorcycles to move between lanes on a highway with a posted speed of 50 mph or more. It would also make it permissible on roads with traffic moving under 10 mph.
Lane splitting in the state of Pennsylvania is currently illegal. PennDOT’s Motorcycle Operator Manual states that motorcycles need an entire lane to operate safely and may not bypass another vehicle within the same lane or drive between lanes. Two motorcycles may share a lane as long as it’s safe to do so.
The state of Rhode Island has outlined lane splitting as illegal, saying, “The driver of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken. III. No person shall drive a motorcycle on a roadway between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”
If caught practicing it, you could receive a ticket and be held liable in the case of an accident.
Lane splitting is currently prohibited in South Carolina, under S.C. Code § 56-5-3640. All motorcycles are entitled to use an entire lane and are not permitted to go between lanes to pass. They are, however, allowed to ride two abreast in a single lane.
South Dakota explicitly bans the act of lane splitting. However, lane sharing between two motorcycles is permitted.
The practice of lane splitting is currently illegal under Tennessee law. All vehicles are entitled to the full use of their lane and may not ride in between lanes or overtake another vehicle within the same lane.
Lane splitting is not explicitly outlined in Texas law but the Texas Transportation Code requires within a single lane
A bill was introduced at the end of 2018 to make lane splitting legal, but it has not yet been passed.
Although lane splitting is not legal, Utah is one of the few states that permits lane filtering, where motorcycles may move slowly between stopped vehicles instead of having to wait in their spot in the lane. This was legalized on May 14, 2019. The rules for lane filtering in Utah are as follows:
- The roadway must have two or more adjacent lanes of travel in the same direction.
- The roadway must have a speed limit of 45 miles per hour or less.
- The vehicle that is being overtaken in the same lane must be stopped.
- The motorcycle is traveling at a speed of 15 miles per hour or less.
- Lane filtering can only happen if the movement can be made safely.
Lane splitting in Vermont is currently prohibited by law. The law states, “No person shall operate a motorcycle or moped between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.” This means lane filtering is also illegal, but lane sharing is indeed permitted by no more than two motorcycles abreast.
It is currently illegal in Virginia but as recently as January 2020, House Bill 1236 was submitted to the Virginia legislature to make lane filtering legal. Motorcycles would be able to pass in between lanes of traffic going less than 10 miles per hour, as long as the motorcycle does not go above 20 miles per hour. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Transportation and is still awaiting further movement.
In Washington, lane splitting is currently illegal, but the state introduced a bill in 2015 to change that. The law fell through but was reintroduced in 2019 as Senate Bill 5254. The Committee is currently debating the bill. As of January 13, 2020, it has retained its current status and can still be passed.
Lane splitting in West Virginia is not explicitly defined as being illegal. However, it is highly discouraged and often considered illegal.
Lane splitting is illegal in Wisconsin. All vehicles must operate within a single lane only and cannot go between lanes or bypass other vehicles. This applies to m moving between vehicles that are stopped or moving very slowly. Lane sharing, however, is legal when no more than two motorcyclists share a lane.
Wyoming’s laws on lane splitting define it to be illegal, stating, “No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.” The WyDOT Motorcycle Manual also says that “lane sharing is usually prohibited,” and can leave you vulnerable to harm. Riders are discouraged to lane split and should dissuade others from doing so as well for their safety.
Whatever state you’re driving through, make sure you do it safely and read up on the law. It may be fun to ride fast and weave in and out of traffic, but that doesn’t make it smart.