Washington State Motorcycle Laws – What Every Rider Should Know

Male motorcyclist riding his classy motorcycle

Each state in the U.S. has unique motorcycle laws, licensing processes, and riding requirements. Knowing Washington’s motorcycle laws can help you stay safe and avoid a ticket while riding through the state, whether you live in Washington or are just passing through on a road trip.

Read on to learn the Washington state motorcycle laws every rider should know. 

Washington Motorcycle License Requirements

You must have a motorcycle license or endorsement on your driver’s license to operate a motorcycle in Washington. You can obtain a motorcycle endorsement by passing a basic knowledge and skills test through the Washington State DMV. 

Once you receive a Washington motorcycle endorsement, you must renew your endorsement annually by paying a fee to the Washington State Department of Licensing. 

Washington Helmet Laws 

All motorcycle riders must wear helmets compliant with Department of Transportation guidelines. DOT-compliant helmets typically have DOT labels on their exterior and interior sides. As such, novelty helmets are usually not DOT-compliant. 

Washington Eye Protection Laws

Washington law also requires motorcycle riders to wear adequate eye protection while riding on public roads. Compliant eye protection: 

  • Is resistant to penetration
  • Is free from scratches and dents
  • Provides an unobstructed peripheral view
  • Attaches securely to the helmet
  • Prevents fogging
  • Allows enough spaces for eyeglasses or sunglasses

Alternatively, you can equip your motorcycle with a windshield to meet the above requirements. 

Washington Hearing Protection Laws

Wearing in-ear hearing protection, such as ear plugs, is permitted while riding. However, you may not wear earbuds or headphones while operating a motorcycle. 

Washington Passenger Laws

Washington allows motorcyclists to ride with passengers. However, all motorcycle passengers must be at least five years old. Additionally, passengers must have their own passenger seats, footboards, and DOT-compliant helmets and eyewear. 

When riding with a passenger, you should always allow the passenger to mount after you and dismount before you. Your passenger should lean with you while cornering and reduce movements on your bike. 

Washington Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

You must carry a certain amount of motorcycle liability insurance to ride your motorcycle on public roads. In Washington, these minimum amounts are as follows:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $10,000 property damage liability per accident

This insurance coverage can protect you if you are in an at-fault accident. However, we recommend carrying additional insurance on top of these minimum coverage amounts. Talk to your insurance company about the best insurance coverage to have as a Washington motorcyclist. 

Washington Motorcycle Equipment Laws 

Motorcycles must contain a few essential pieces of equipment to be street legal in Washington. Specifically, your bike must include:

  • A horn audible from at least 200 feet
  • A muffler
  • Handlebars no higher than 30 inches from the seat
  • Headlights
  • Tail lights

Additionally, you must keep your headlights on any time you ride on a highway. 

Washington Lane Splitting Laws

Washington prohibits lane splitting. This means that you cannot ride your motorcycle between lanes of traffic. The current minimum fine for lane splitting in Washington is $136. 

However, you can ride side-by-side with another motorcyclist in the same lane. 

Washington Intersection Traffic Laws

Motorcycles sometimes do not weigh enough to trigger the sensors at intersections, leading the lights to remain red longer than usual. However, Washington law allows motorcyclists to proceed through the intersection after they have come to a complete stop, waited through one cycle of the light, and ensured that the intersection is clear of pedestrians and vehicles. 

Law Tigers is Here For Washington Riders

If you ever become involved in a motorcycle accident, we can help. Contact our Law Tigers team at 888-863-7216 to schedule a consultation.