Washington State Motorcycle Laws

Washington State Motorcycle Laws | Bernard Law Group

Motorcycle Rider: Do You Know Your Laws?

Riding a motorcycle in Washington is not for everybody. Literally.

Only those who comply with the state’s laws can. But following rules isn’t just about getting a license. It’s also about being safe. Even those who are concerned about potential liability in accidents can benefit from following the laws.

Below, you can read more about Washington’s motorcycle laws.

Laws for Operating a Motorcycle  in the State of Washington

Motorcycle Endorsement: What Is It?

The law states that motorcycle riders must have a driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement. Unless they are driving a motorcycle with a steering wheel and a partially or fully enclosed seating area.

Riders can obtain an endorsement either by completing a motorcycle rider course and taking a test, or by taking a knowledge and riding skills test directly with the Department of Licensing.

Here’s what a motorcycle skills test looks like:

Insurance Requirements For Motorcycle Riders

The law states that all drivers must carry insurance. Yes, that includes riders.

Individuals must carry $10,000 in property damage per accident, $25,000 bodily injury liability per person, and $50,000 bodily injury liability for two or more people.

First-Time Riders: Don’t Ignore State Requirements

According to state statistics, more than half of all crashes occur on motorcycles ridden by riders with less than six months experience. First-time motorcycle operators are more likely to crash and less likely to know the laws in the state of Washington on exactly how to operate a motorcycle. Here are a few of the important points to help you become a safe driver.

Riding A Motorcycle On The Shoulder: What The Law Says

Motorcyclists can pass on the left of the leftmost lane under the law in Washington. This comes in handy in slow traffic. Still, motorcyclists cannot ride between lanes of cars.

Washington Motorcycle Law Summary

All riders must:

  • Wear a DOT approved helmet in good repair
  • If under 18 years of age, attend state-funded rider education
  • Turn on headlights
  • Have a passenger seat and footrest if carrying a passenger
  • Prohibits passengers under the age of 5
  • Have one useable mirror
  • Handlebar height of a maximum of 30” above the seat
  • Have working turn signals
  • Class C, M1 or M2 license, as applicable, or a valid learner’s permit
  • Protective eyewear and clothing are recommended, but not required by law

Drugs and Alcohol-Related Motorcycle Laws

In addition to prohibiting operating a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or street drugs, the Washington DMV also prohibits passengers from riding after using these substances. Alcohol and street drugs can impair your ability to physically balance the motorcycle and can lead to unstable riding conditions for both the passenger and the operator.

Safe Riding Your Motorcycle: What Officials Say

The State Department of Motor Vehicles recommends that all riders become familiar with their bike and the terrain to be traveled if possible. Stay aware of your surroundings and employ defensive driving techniques at all times to help avoid a motorcycle accident.

When riding with a group of bikers, you should employ a staggered position on the road for maximum safety. Never ride side by side with a motorcycle and leave adequate clearance between bikes to allow for proper reaction time should a problem occur.

Three-Wheeled Motorcycles and Side Cars

If you wish to operate a three-wheeled motorcycle or a bike equipped with a sidecar in the state of Washington, you will need a special certification for this type of vehicle on your driver’s license before you can legally operate these types of vehicles.

In Washington, you must pass both a written and driving test regarding three-wheeled motorcycles before your certification will be validated. If you do not have a three-wheeled motorcycle available to you, but still want to acquire a license to operate such a vehicle, the DMV will provide one for you to use during your test.

For more information about motorcycle laws and when to get an attorney for a motorcycle accident in the state of Washington, please refer to the Washington State motorcycle guidelines handbook. You can get your own copy of this handbook by visiting: dol.wa.gov/.