Important Washington State Motorcycle Laws to Know
Motorcycle Endorsement Required by Law
A motorcycle endorsement is required by Washington State law for two-wheeled street motorcycles or scooters that are larger than 50cc or can go faster than 30 mph. Unfortunately, about 35,000 motorcyclists in Washington are riding without their endorsement. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, endorsed riders are “less likely to be involved in fatal collisions when compared to unendorsed riders.”
To learn more about getting your Washington motorcycle endorsement, visit the Washington Department of Licensing for more information. Evergreen Motorcycle Attorneys encourages on-going motorcycle training, even for seasoned and experienced riders. With nothing between you and the pavement, you will certainly benefit from having extensive motorcycle training and education on your side.
The Washington Department of Licensing has two manuals for motorcycle operators: one for two-wheeled operators and one for three wheels or a bike with a sidecar. Moped operators are only required to have a valid driver license, but they must follow the general motorcycle rider laws.
Off-road motorcycle operators must have only a valid driver license, unless they are under 18 years old. Rider education is required for everyone under the age of 18. Riders under the age of 16 must be under the direct supervision of someone over the age of 18 years with a valid driver license.
Proper Motorcycle Safety Equipment
Motorcycle riders and passengers are required by law to wear DOT-approved helmets and eye protection if the bike isn’t equipped with a windshield. A DOT-approved helmet will have a sticker on the outside and inside of the helmet with the manufacturer’s name/ID, model, size, month/year of manufacture, and other safety information.
The passenger must have a separate seat and footrest, and must be able to reach the footrest. The Washington State Attorney General prohibits passengers under five years old.
Rules of the Road
Lane splitting—sharing one lane with another motor vehicle—is not allowed under Washington State law. However, motorcycle riders are allowed to ride side-by-side, with no more than two bikes abreast in a single lane. You may not ride between lanes of traffic or rows of vehicles.
Handlebars may not be higher than 30-inches above the seat. Left and right side-view mirrors are required, unless your motorcycle was originally manufactured without it. Turn signals are also only required if they were originally included on your motorcycle. All motorcycles are required to have a muffler, but cannot as a maximum sound level of 86 DB measured at 50 feet or 105 DB at 20 inches, However, motorcycles manufactured before 1986 are exempt from this Washington State requirement.
Motorcycle Registration and Insurance
You must register your motorcycle but are not required by Washington State law to carry motorcycle liability insurance. Evergreen Motorcycle highly recommends carrying a good motorcycle insurance policy to cover yourself and others in the event of an accident, especially if you have a home or other assets to protect.
While Washington doesn’t require motorcycle insurance, Oregon, Idaho, and Canada do require it. When riding out of state, you need to be aware of the motorcycle insurance laws of the state or country you’re in, or you could be ticketed.