Last Updated on: 14th April 2023, 03:52 pm
Whether you’re getting your first motorcycle license or planning a motorcycle trip to a bucket list destination, it’s important to know local motorcycle laws before you hit the open road.
Lane splitting is a common practice among motorcyclists but controversial. While some believe it’s safer for riders, others think it’s more dangerous than staying in a lane when traffic slows or comes to a stop.
Lane splitting laws vary by state. Only one state explicitly allows it, and just four other states have passed laws allowing lane filtering, a modified version of lane splitting. In most states, lane splitting is explicitly illegal and puts you at risk of not only a ticket but being found liable if there is an accident. A handful of states do not have anything to say about the practice.
Here’s what you should know before you take your next ride.
Table of Contents
What Is Lane Splitting?
Lane splitting is the practice of operating a motorcycle between marked traffic lanes traveling in the same direction. This differs from lane filtering or riding between rows of stopped traffic, generally to reach the head of the intersection. Lane filtering usually happens at traffic lights to let riders navigate safely toward the front of the line and avoid being sandwiched between vehicles.
Is Lane Splitting Legal?
Lane splitting has complicated and confusing legal status in the United States. Many motorists and even some cyclists do not even know when lane splitting is allowed and how it differs from lane filtering.
In 2012, a survey found 53% of non-motorcycle drivers thought it was legal to split lanes, yet at the time, California traffic law did not address lane splitting at all.
The practice of lane splitting is illegal in most states or not specifically mentioned or prohibited. Very few states are specifically “lane splitting legal states,” but a handful are considering lane splitting legislation or allow different versions like lane sharing or lane filtering.
Where Is Lane Splitting Legal? | States Where Lane Splitting Is Legal
These states either allow lane splitting or make some version of it like lane filtering legal.
Arizona – Lane Filtering in Certain Conditions
Planning an Arizona motorcycle ride like a tour of the Grand Canyon? It's one of the latest states to legalize a version of lane splitting. Arizona became the 4th state to make lane filtering legal for motorcycles in 2022. The new Arizona lane splitting law, SB 1273, is very limited but it allows motorcyclists to ride between lanes of traffic stopped at a light. The law is designed to help riders avoid the danger of being rear-ended or stuck between two cars when traffic comes to a stop.
Lane filtering is only allowed in Arizona when:
- The speed limit on the road is 45mph or less,
- The motorcyclist is not going faster than 15mph,
- The street is divided into 2 or more lanes with the same direction of travel,
- The rider is passing a car stopped in the same lane, and
- The rider is passing between lanes of traffic, not passing on the median or shoulder
California is the only state to make lane splitting legal. The other three states on this list only allow lane filtering in specific circumstances. Lane splitting in California was never illegal, but AB 51 was signed into law that officially made California lane splitting legal and sanctioned.
While splitting lanes, motorcyclists should not go more than 10mph above the surrounding flow of traffic. Riders are discouraged from splitting lanes while traffic exceeds 30mph. Lane splitting is not allowed close to freeway on-ramps and exits.
The California Highway Patrol offers lane splitting safety tips for motorcyclists.
Hawaii – Shoulder Surfing Allowed in Certain Conditions
Hawaii is known for its scenic rides as well as its very narrow roads which make lane splitting and traditional lane filtering less than ideal, even if allowed. In 2018, Hawaii passed a new law allowing shoulder surfing as an alternative to lane filtering.
In approved areas, motorcyclists can use road shoulders to pass stopped traffic. Hawaii shoulder riding is only allowed on roads with at least two lanes in each direction and a shoulder lane wide enough to safely accommodate the vehicle. This is only allowed to pass stopped traffic.
Montana – Lane Filtering in Certain Conditions
In 2021, Montana became the third state to legalize lane splitting in some form. Montana Senate Bill 9 went into effect in October 2021 and allows motorcyclists to split lanes to overtake stopped or slow vehicles as long as:
- The motorcyclist is not traveling at a speed greater than 20mph,
- The lanes are wide enough,
- Traffic and road conditions are safe, and
- The motorcyclist stays within 10mph of ambient traffic speed while splitting lanes
Montana specifically allows lane filtering, or overtaking stopped or slow traffic traveling no more than 10mph in the same direction. Otherwise, lane splitting is not allowed.
Utah – Lane Filtering in Certain Conditions
Utah was the first state after California to legalize lane splitting in some form. The Utah lane filtering law was passed in 2019 and allows motorcycles to travel between lanes of stopped traffic. Lane filtering is only allowed when:
- The speed limit is 45mph or less,
- The motorcyclist is not going more than 15mph while filtering,
- The road has at least two lanes going in the same direction,
- Traffic is stopped, and
- The motorcyclist filters between marked lanes, not in the shoulder or a bike lane
States Without Lane Splitting Regulations
If you’re going to be riding in one of these states, be aware that you are still at risk of getting a citation even if the law does not specifically prohibit lane splitting or lane filtering. You may be cited for improper lane change, failure to maintain a lane, or even reckless driving. If you are involved in an accident while filtering or splitting lanes, you may be found partially or completely liable (depending on the state) because the practice is not specifically condoned or violates other traffic laws.
Arkansas Code § 27-51-302 requires vehicles to drive “as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane” and remain in the lane unless otherwise safe to move outside the lane.
Is lane splitting legal in Arkansas? Because there is no mention of lane splitting and this vague vehicle code technically means vehicles can drive outside the lane when safe, lane splitting is de facto legal. Arkansas also allows lane sharing with two motorcycles side by side in the same lane.
Lane splitting in Delaware is not addressed by any statutes. While it is de facto legal, it’s not explicitly allowed and you may still be cited for other moving violations.
District of Columbia (Washington, DC)
Lane splitting is not illegal in Washington, D.C. but it is not specifically allowed, either. There are no statutes related to lane splitting in Washington, D.C.
Idaho Statutes §49-637 is vague in stating that vehicles should travel “as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane” which is vague and does not mention lane splitting. However, you should know that the Idaho Rules of the Road handbook for motorcyclists specifically states that “the practice of lane splitting is not legal in Idaho.”
Lane splitting in Kentucky is not explicitly legal or illegal. Kentucky statutes do not mention lane splitting or filtering.
Lane splitting is not specifically addressed by Mississippi law. This means it is up to the discretion of law enforcement whether a motorcyclist is engaging in reckless driving by splitting lanes.
Legislation was introduced to legalize lane splitting or lane filtering in Mississippi, but it died in committee in 2016.
Lane splitting in Missouri is neither legal nor illegal. The law does not address operating a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or vehicles so it is left to the discretion of law enforcement whether a citation will be issued for a related moving violation.
Lane splitting in New Jersey is not illegal or legal. However, the New Jersey driver’s manual warns against lane sharing and says, “do not ride in between rows of stopped vehicles.”
Is lane splitting legal in NC? Lane splitting in North Carolina is not condoned, but it is not illegal either. However, the practice is discouraged, as is lane sharing.
Is lane splitting legal in Ohio? Not exactly, but it’s not prohibited either. Ohio law does not have specific laws regarding lane splitting or filtering, but doing so can still put you at risk of a ticket for a related offense like failure to maintain a lane or improper lane change.
Ohio law does require motorcyclists to exercise “due care” when passing stopped or slowed traffic. This vague language means interpretation can be left up to an officer or an insurance company.
Texas Transportation Code § 545.060 requires motorists on a roadway with two or more marked lanes to drive “as near as practical entirely within a single lane” and only allows moving from the lane when “the movement can be made safely.” This law does leave some room for interpretation and lane splitting in Texas is a common sight, but it can easily result in a moving citation for failure to maintain a single lane.
Lane splitting is not explicitly illegal in West Virginia. West Virginia Code §17C-7-9 is similar to other states on this list with a vague requirement that vehicles be operated “as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane.”
Where Lane Splitting Is Illegal
These states specifically ban the practice of lane splitting.
Alabama Code Section 32-5A-242 makes lane splitting illegal in Alabama. This statute prohibits operating a motorcycle “between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”
Lane sharing with no more than two motorcycles abreast is allowed.
AAC 02.427 makes lane splitting illegal in Alaska by prohibiting motorcycles from passing or overtaking vehicles in the same lane or driving between lines or lanes of vehicles or traffic.
Lane sharing with motorcycles up to two abreast is permitted.
Lane splitting is illegal in Colorado, but the Colorado State Patrol reminds motorcyclists that sharing a lane or co-riding with another motorcycle is permitted.
Connecticut Code Section 14-289b prohibits motorcyclists from passing or overtaking any vehicle except a motorcycle in the same traffic lane or “operating a motorcycle between lanes of traffic.” Legislation to allow lane splitting in 2019 died in committee.
Florida is one of the top destinations for motorcyclists around the country. If you’re planning to enjoy some of the best motorcycle rides in Florida or you’re riding into the state for Biketoberfest or Bike Week, make sure you know lane splitting Florida laws.
Lane splitting in Florida is illegal under Florida Statute 316.20. This statute prohibits operating a motorcycle “between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”
Is lane splitting legal in GA? Georgia is one of many states to explicitly prohibit lane splitting and lane filtering under Georgia Code Section 40-6-312. Co-riding with two motorcycles abreast in a single lane is allowed.
Is lane splitting legal in Illinois? Unfortunately, 625 ILCS 5/11-703 explicitly bans lane splitting in IL. This statute prohibits motorcycles from passing a vehicle on the left when doing so will pass another vehicle on the right traveling in the same direction unless there is an unobstructed lane to use.
Is lane splitting legal in Indiana? Sadly, no. IC § 9-21-10-6 makes lane splitting in Indiana illegal. This statute prohibits using a vehicle in a way which deprives another vehicle of the “full use of a traffic lane.” Riding between lanes is considered illegal because it deprives both vehicles of the full use of their entire traffic lanes.
Lane sharing is allowed for up to two motorcycles, but a staggered formation is encouraged.
Lane splitting is illegal in Iowa. The law explicitly prohibits operating a motorcycle between adjacent rows or lines of vehicles or traffic lanes. Two motorcycles may share a lane.
Lane splitting is illegal in Kansas. The law prohibits motorcycles from being operated to pass or overtake a vehicle in the same lane, riding between lanes of traffic, or riding between adjacent rows or lines of vehicles. Lane sharing is allowed in Kansas with up to two motorcycles riding abreast.
Lane splitting is illegal in Louisiana. LA RS §32:191.1 prohibits motorcycles from being operated between traffic lanes or between adjacent rows or lines of vehicles. Motorcycles can share lanes with up to two motorcycles riding abreast.
Maine Statutes Title 29-A §2062 makes lane splitting in Maine illegal. Motorcycles are explicitly prohibited from being operated between traffic lanes or lines or rows of vehicles. Two motorcycles can share a lane.
Lane splitting is illegal in Maryland under §21–1303 which explicitly prohibits riding between traffic lanes and rows of vehicles. Up to two motorcycles can share a lane.
Massachusetts – Considering Legislation
Lane splitting is illegal in MA. Massachusetts law requires each vehicle to operate completely within a single lane of traffic and pass single file using an unoccupied lane.
Legislation was introduced in 2017 to make lane splitting legal in Massachusetts. A study into safety concerns was ordered in 2018, but efforts have stalled. The bill, still in the Joint Committee on Transportation, would allow lane filtering in the left access lane, right breakdown lane, or lane splitting to pass slow traffic. Motorcyclists would be limited to lane splitting and filtering maneuvers at 25mph or slower.
Michigan Vehicle Code Section 257.660 prohibits motorcyclists from passing between lanes of traffic. You may only pass other vehicles by moving into an unoccupied lane of traffic. Lane sharing with motorcycles two abreast is allowed.
Lane sharing side-by-side is legal, but lane splitting is illegal in Minnesota. Motorcyclists are explicitly prohibited from riding between lanes of traffic or rows of vehicles.
Lane splitting is illegal in Nebraska. The law prohibits operating a motorcycle between traffic lanes or rows or lines of vehicles.
Planning a motorcycle trip to Vegas or passing through the state? Lane splitting in Nevada is illegal under NRS 486.351 which prohibits passing another vehicle within the same lane or between vehicles. Lane sharing is legal for up to two motorcyclists riding abreast.
NM Code of Ordinances Section 10.04.086B makes lane splitting in New Mexico illegal. This statute prohibits passing in the same lane or operating a motorcycle between rows of stopped vehicles or lanes of traffic.
Is lane splitting legal in NY? While a common practice, VAT § 1252 makes lane splitting in New York illegal. “Driving between lanes” is a two-point offense in new York.
Lane splitting in North Dakota is explicitly prohibited as the law states that vehicles may not be operated in a way to deprive other vehicles of the full use of their lane.
Oklahoma Statute §47-11-1103 makes lane splitting illegal by barring passing other vehicles between lanes traveling in the same direction.
ORS 814.240 specifically prohibits lane splitting in Oregon. The state considers it unlawful motorcycle passing to:
- Overtake or pass a vehicle in the same lane except passing another motorcycle or moped, or
- Operating a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent rows of vehicles or lines.
After years of attempts, a law was passed allowing lane splitting. Oregon Governor Kate Brown vetoed the bill, however, despite bipartisan support and hundreds of letters providing testimony. SB 574 would have allowed motorcyclists to split lanes on multi-lane highways with speed limits of at least 50mph but only when traffic was slowed to 10mph or less.
Is lane splitting legal in PA? While the practice is very common among motorcyclists, be aware that lane splitting in Pennsylvania is illegal. The PennDOT Motorcycle Operator Manual warns against riding between lanes of moving or stopped traffic.
Lane splitting is illegal in Rhode Island. Motorcyclists are prohibited from riding between traffic lanes or lines or rows of vehicles.
Lane splitting in South Carolina is illegal. It is a misdemeanor violation to operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or rows of vehicles.
Planning a trip to Sturgis? Be aware that lane splitting is illegal in South Dakota. Lane sharing is allowed with up to two motorcyclists riding abreast in a lane.
Is lane splitting legal in Tennessee? While some states are vague and do not mention lane splitting, Tennessee makes lane splitting explicitly illegal. Tennessee Code §55-8-182 prohibits motorcyclists from riding between lanes of traffic or rows or lines of vehicles. Lane sharing is allowed with up to two motorcycles abreast in one lane.
Lane splitting is illegal in Vermont which prohibits operating a motorcycle between traffic lanes and rows of vehicles. Up to two motorcycles can share a lane.
Virginia – Considering Legislation
Virginia currently prohibits lane splitting and filtering, although motorcyclists are allowed to share lanes traveling two abreast.
Virginia is considering legislation for the 2022 session that would allow lane filtering. The Virginia lane filtering law, House Bill 838, would be similar to Arizona and Utah but allow riders to filter when traffic is stopped or slowed.
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.608 entitles motorcycles to use full lanes and allows motorcyclists to ride two abreast in a lane. It specifically prohibits:
- Operating a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles, and
- Riding motorcycles more than two abreast in a lane.
Legislators tried to legalize lane splitting in Washington State in 2017 and motorcycle shoulder driving in 2015, but both efforts stalled.
White lining or lane splitting is illegal in Wisconsin. Vehicles must be operated within a single traffic lane.
Lane splitting in Wyoming is illegal. Wyoming Statute §31-5-115 prohibits passing another vehicle in the same lane, unless it is another motorcycle, and operating a motorcycle between traffic lanes or rows of vehicles.
Wyoming is unique because it allows motorcycles to be operated up to 3 abreast in a lane. The vast majority of states only allow two motorcycles to share a lane. Wyoming also allows passing another bike within the same lane.
Lane Splitting FAQ
Get a quick answer to whether lane filtering, sharing, or splitting is legal in your state or where you are planning a motorcycle trip!
Is lane splitting legal in Arizona?
The new Arizona lane splitting law does not allow lane splitting, but it does allow lane filtering in certain conditions. Motorcyclists can filter lanes at stoplights when traffic is stopped on roads with speed limits of 45mph or less.
Is lane splitting legal in California?
Yes, California is the only state that explicitly allows lane splitting! The California lane splitting law was passed in 2016 and but the practice has never been illegal in CA.
Is lane splitting legal in Florida?
No, Florida specifically prohibits lane splitting by law.
Is lane splitting legal in Texas?
Texas is one of several states without a lane splitting law. It’s not legal or illegal. You may still be cited for a moving violation such as failure to maintain a lane.
Is lane splitting legal in Oregon?
No, Oregon law prohibits lane splitting. A law was passed to allow lane filtering or splitting in certain conditions but it was vetoed by the governor in 2021.