The procedure for obtaining a motorcycle learners permit and motorcycle endorsement in Washington State just got a little tougher. Effective January 1, 2020, people hoping to get a motorcycle learner’s permit or a motorcycle endorsement on their license will have to jump through a few more hoops. In addition, the state has increased the penalties for people who operate motorcycles without an endorsement.

Obtaining a Motorcycle Learner’s Permit

Now, prior to receiving a motorcycle endorsement, potential riders must first take and pass a 50 question written test. This is an increase of 25 additional questions.

Thereafter, the rider must take and pass a basic motorcycle skills test that includes braking and cornering. If successful, the rider returns to the Department of Licensing to have the learner’s permit added to their license. The newly issued learner’s permit will be valid for a period of 180 days. Previously, the learner’s permit was only valid for 90 days.

Obtaining a Motorcycle Endorsement

Only after a learner’s permit is issued is a rider allowed to test for a full motorcycle endorsement. The full endorsement requires two additional tests. First, the rider must complete another 50 questions written test. If successfully completed, the candidate must then take a more comprehensive practical skills test that includes a quick stop performed from approximately 20-25 mph. Also required is the successful completion of a timed figure 8 element that assesses left and right cornering skills.

If a motorcycle rider does not have a valid motorcycle learner’s permit or endorsement, the fines for illegal operation have been increased.  The fine for operating a motorcycle without a learner’s permit or endorsement is now $48, which results in a fine of up to $136 after fees and assessments. Under Washington State’s new rule, riders face an additional penalty of $250 for riding without the proper endorsements.

Wrong Way Trend

The stricter licensing requirements are aimed at reducing motorcycle involved fatalities and serious injury crashes. Unfortunately, the state’s Target Zero Plan, which aims to reduce Washington State’s fatality and serious injury is moving in the wrong direction. Comparing data between the years 2012-2014 with data from 2015-2017 shows fatalities increased by 23% while serious injury crashes rose by 7%.

What do you think of Washington State’s new licensing requirements? Do you think the additional testing will reduce serious injury crashes and/or reduce fatalities? Let us know in the comments below.


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