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New Motorcycle Endorsement Categories in Washington

The rules for 3 Wheelers has changed

Effective January 1, 2004, new license endorsement categories went into effect for the state of Washington. If you had a "3" on your license in the endorsement field prior to January 1, 2004, that made it legal for you to ride a 2 or a 3-wheeled motorcycle. If you had an "R" in that field you have what is called a "3-wheeled motorcycle ONLY" restriction. A restriction is not the same as an endorsement, and this difference is what triggered the legislative action in 2003 that resulted in new endorsement categories being enacted.

3-wheeled motorcyclists wanted subsidized training just like 2-wheeled motorcyclists have had in Washington for almost 20 years. A group of them contacted their legislators and demanded that action be taken. During the 2003 legislative session Senators Haugen and Horn sponsored legislation (ESSB 5229) to require the Washington Motorcycle Safety Program (WMSP) to begin offering 3-wheeled training. The legislation also included authorization for two new license endorsement categories, as well as changing the existing "3" endorsement to "2-wheeled motorcycle ONLY". The new categories are - "5" is "3-wheeled motorcycle only" and "7" is "both 2 and 3-wheeled motorcycle". These changes were necessary in order to offer subsidized 3-wheeled training because those riders who chose to have an "R" restriction on their license weren't contributing to the Rider Education Fund, which is used to subsidize WMSP training, because as mentioned earlier, a 'restriction' and an 'endorsement' are not the same thing under the law. It was therefore necessary to create a new 'endorsement' thereby allowing the endorsement fees collected to be deposited into the Rider Education Fund.

If you’ve never experienced riding a 3-wheeled motorcycle (trike or sidecar rig), you may not be aware that the handling dynamics and characteristics are very different from those of a 2-wheeled motorcycle. In fact some things, like steering, are completely backwards from the way a 2-wheeled motorcycle handles. For this reason, totally different written and skills tests were developed for the "5" and "7" endorsement tests. If you didn’t have a motorcycle endorsement on your WA drivers license on December 31, 2003; and you’d like to get a "5" endorsement, you will take a written and riding test that pertains only to a 3-wheeled motorcycle. If you’d like to get a "7" you will take both the 2-wheel AND the 3-wheeled written and riding skill tests.

After January 1, 2004 successful completion of a Sidecar/Trike Education Program course will waive further testing at the Department of Licensing for a new "5" endorsement. It will also waive the 3-wheeled testing for a "7" endorsement. Successful completion of an MSF course waives further testing for a "3" and the 2-wheeled part of a "7".

If you had a "3" endorsement on December 31st and want or need to convert it to a "7", you can go to any Dept. of Licensing office between January 1, 2004 and June 30, 2004 and have your license re-issued. No testing will be required, and there is no fee. If you currently hold an "R" restriction on your license (3-wheeled motorcycle ONLY), you must go to a Dept. of Licensing office between January 1, 2003 and June 30, 2004 and have your license reissued with a "5" endorsement. There will be no testing or fee for this, but future license renewals will now cost you an additional $25 for five years.

Motorcycle endorsement renewals, regardless of which category, will be $25 for five years.

Note: If you get your first "3" endorsement after January 1, 2004 you will NOT be able to convert it to a "5" or a "7" without further testing.

This 6-month "grandfathering" period between January 1st and June 30th is the only time WA residents will be able to convert their endorsements without further testing. For more information, visit the Dept. of Licensing website at: www.dol.wa.gov.

Editors note:  The term "Sidecar/Trike Education Program" is a copyright owned by The Evergreen Safety Council.


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