Washington already has over 200,000 motorcycle riders, but there's always room for one more. If you feel like joining them, there's one thing you'll need to do first - get your motorcycle license. The Washington Department of Licensing (WA DOL) doesn't issue a full motorcycle license, but it does allow you to apply for a motorcycle endorsement you can add to your existing driver's license. Providing you have a driver's license already and are prepared to sit a few tests and pay a (mercifully small) fee, then you're already well on your way to becoming an authorized rider. Here's what you need to know about getting a motorcycle license in Washington.
As dol.wa.gov says, to get a Washington State motorcycle endorsement, you'll need to pass the eligibility check first. Before you pin all your hopes on getting a license, make sure you can say yes to the following:
• You are at least 16 years old
• If you're under 18 years old, you'll need to have the permission of a parent or guardian to apply and have completed a motorcycle education course
• You have a Washington State driver's license
• You're willing to sit the required motorcycle knowledge and skills tests
• You can pay the necessary fee
How to Get a Learner's Permit
Some states require that you hold a learner's permit for a minimum period before applying for your license. Washinton isn't one of those states. Not only do you not have to hold a permit for a minimum duration, but you don't need to hold one at all if you don't want to. If you're confident of your skills, you can skip straight to applying for your motorcycle license. If, on the other hand, you're new to riding or want to build up some confidence before you get down to any tests, it's a good idea to apply for your permit first. Once you get a permit, you'll be able to practice your skills and get to grips with operating a motorcycle safely.
As per DMV.org, to get your permit, you'll need to arrange a visit to a motorcycle training school to take a motorcycle knowledge test. After you get the results, take your test score sheet along to your local DOL office for them to convert it into a permit. Be sure to have your driver's license and a permit fee of $15 with you.
Once you have your permit, you'll have 180 days to apply for your license. If you need longer, you can apply for an additional 180 days by renewing the permit at a Department of Licensing office. Bear in mind that you'll need to pay an additional $15 permit renewal fee. If you need to renew it again after this point, you'll first need to enroll in a motorcycle safety course. You'll then need to provide proof of your enrollment (and pay another renewal fee) when you apply.
A permit will give you the chance to practice riding before you get your license. But it's important to note that a permit isn't a full license, and comes with certain limitations. To stay on the right side of the law, be sure to be mindful of the following restrictions.
• No riding between sunset and sunrise
• No carrying passengers
How to Apply for a License
If you're ready to get your motorcycle license, you've got one of two options. You can either:
- Book a visit to a motorcycle training school to sit a knowledge and skills test. Once you've passed the tests, you'll need to take your score sheet to a DOL office within 180 days to complete the application.
- Complete a motorcycle safety course. Once you complete the course, take your completion card to a DOL office within 180 days to complete the application. Regardless of which option you choose, make sure to have the following to hand when you attend your local DOL office to complete your application:
- Your Washington State driver's license
- Your test score sheet or course completion card
- Payment for your motorcycle endorsement
If you hold a permit, you'll also need to bring this along to surrender when you receive your license.
Motorcycle Safety Courses
If you decide to apply for your license by going the motorcycle safety course route, you'll get the chance to complete the knowledge and skills tests required as part of your application in a safe, controlled environment. You'll also get to benefit from 15.5 hours of practical and classroom training. If you're an experienced rider, this might not be needed. If you're not, it could be invaluable, and make all the difference between getting your license the first time around or having to repeat the process. To get a place on a course, you'll need to pay a $125 fee if you're over 18 years old or $50 if you're under 18. You'll also need to ensure you have eye gear and a DOT approved helmet. If you're under 18, you'll need to provide a signed parent/ guardian form. Once you complete the course, you'll be provided with a course completion certificate. Be sure to keep this safe, as you'll need to present this to the DOL when you complete your application.
Knowledge and Skills Tests
If you'd rather sit your tests without enrolling in a safety course, you can book an appointment at a state-approved motorcycle training school to take your knowledge and skills tests. As DMV.com notes, the knowledge test will measure your understanding of basic road rules, as well as your comprehension of proper safety techniques and protocol. The skills test will measure your ability to safely operate a motorcycle. During the test, you'll be asked to complete basic maneuvers such as weaving through cones, stopping, turning from a stop, completing a U-turn, swerving around obstacles, and coming to a quick stop. Once you pass both elements, you'll need to wait for three days for the school to register the test results on the WA DOL system. After then, you have 180 days to complete your application at a DOL office.
When you apply for your license, you'll need to pay an application fee. The fees for 2021 are as follows:
- Motorcycle learner's permit: $15
- Motorcycle safety course: $125 for over 18-year-olds/ $50 for under 18-year-olds
- Motorcycle endorsement: $17 to $27
Written by Benjamin Smith
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