Motorcycle Laws: Helpful Reminders

Are you up-to-date on Washington State’s laws for motorcycling? Maybe it’s time for a review. It might save you a ticket or fine. And, if you should be in an accident, it might affect your degree of liability. Follow the rules so that if you get in an accident you might be able to claim funds for medical care and for pain. If you weren’t obeying the law, your award could be lowered.

A motorcycle is legally defined as a motorized vehicle with no more than three wheels, so sidecars and three-wheeled motorcycles are included. However personal mobility devices (like a Segway), wheelchairs, electric-assisted bicycles, or mopeds are not included. And that’s important, because you need a motorcycle endorsement on your driving license to use a motorcycle (unless your ride has a partly or fully enclosed seating area and a steering wheel).

You can get a motorcycle endorsement in two ways. You can take a motorcycle rider course that includes both a knowledge and a skills test. It covers how to ride in traffic and how to avoid a collision. You present the Certificate of Completion at the Washington Licensing Service Office within 180 days of passing the course. Or, you can take the knowledge and skills test offered by the Department of Licensing.

Your motorcycle needs a license, of course. It also needs an Odometer Disclosure Statement if it’s less than ten years old and an emissions testing report if you live in Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish, or Spokane counties. You don’t need insurance, but it’s definitely a good idea to have it.

In Washington state you need a US DOT approved helmet to use a motorcycle. Like it or not, wearing a helmet could affect your payment by insurance companies in case of an accident. If you don’t have a windshield on your motorcycle, you must wear goggles, safety glasses, or a face shield approved by the Washington State patrol.

Your motorcycle must meet state requirements too. The requirements mandate rear view mirrors on the left and right sides of the motorcycle that let you see at least 200 feet behind you. They also require that you have a horn that can be heard at least 200 feet away. Per the requirements, your handlebars or grips can be no more than 30 inches higher than your saddle or seat. You need a muffler to prevent polluting emissions and loud noise (78 dBA when going slower than 45 mph and 82 dBA when going faster). And, whenever you’re on the highway, not just at night, you must have lit headlight and tail lamp.

If you’ve got questions about Washington State’s motorcycle laws, ask us on the Eagle Leather Facebook page, and we’ll try to get an answer for you.

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