Skip to content

USCA Sidecar Forum

For some extra information about navigating the forum you can go to Forum Tips

Please to create posts and topics.

Washington State Licensing Changes

Page 1 of 8Next

Washington state licensing has changed it's motorcycle endorsements. As of January 1st, 2004, there will be 2 wheeled motorcycle, 3 wheeled motorcyle and 2 & 3 wheeled motorcycles. More information on Senate Bill 5229 can be found at: and

Got my new endorsement two weeks ago. Went from a 3 (unlimited motorcycle) to a Grade 7 (2 or three wheels unlimited). Cost was zip, new picture and new license. After June 30th it will cost you and you will have to choose between two or three wheel endorsement, or both. Non endorsed riders will have to take a written and road test and pay for each endorsement. $$$$$$

How does this effect us traveling thru from another state that does nt require such endorsement?

It shouldn't affect you at all, as long as you're legal in your state.

Being, Myself, Mary Margaret Haugen; chair of the WA State Transportation Comittee, Dave Wendell; formerly with the Evergreen Safety Council and now CEO of, and unnamed others, pursued this legislation to give parity to three wheeled vehicle operators with two wheeled cyclists. Sidecarists and Trikers were orphans.
We were all paying for subsidized training through our endorsement fees. but the state was only subsidizing training for two wheeled operators.
When I first mentioned this to Ms. Haugen, she agreed that the status quo was, in effect, discriminatory to the many cyclists who for various reasons could not operate a two wheeled motorcycle. She also agreed that a three wheel only endorsement and training subsidy would pay for itself and not be a public burden. She promised to do something about this and with the help of her staff, Dave and others, kept her word.
If one is not a Washington State resident, the licensing rules that apply in your state are acceptable here. This legislation is for the benefit of licensing and training Washington residents for safe three wheeled driving.

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM (there is more to be read there):

Did the legislature pass a new three-wheeled motorcycle law?

Yes, during its 2003 session the legislature passed Substitute
Senate Bill 5229, which establishes a special three-wheeled
motorcycle endorsement knowledge and skills test for operators of
motorcycles with sidecar, and trikes. The bill also requires the
Department of Licensing (DOL) to establish training for three-
wheeled motorcycle riders.


When does the new license endorsement requirement become effective?

The law takes effect January 1, 2004.


When the law goes into effect what do I have to do to lawfully
operate a three-wheeled motorcycle?

Like operating a two-wheeled motorcycle, you must have a driver
license endorsement to operate a three-wheeled motorcycle. To get
the endorsement you will have to pass a knowledge and operator
skills test, or you will have to present a certificate showing that
you have completed the three-wheeled motorcycle operator-training


I am currently endorsed, how do I get the three-wheeled motorcycle

From January 2, 2004 through June 30, 2004, three-wheeled motorcycle
operators with a class 3 endorsement or an "R" restriction can have
a three-wheeled motorcycle endorsement added to their license
without skill testing. Here's how it works:

Go to any Washington driver licensing office with your current
driver license and motorcycle endorsement.
Request a three-wheeled motorcycle endorsement.
Let the Licensing Representative know if you already have a two-
wheeled motorcycle endorsement and specify if you do or do not want
to keep it. If you surrender the two-wheeled motorcycle endorsement
you will sign a form stating that you agree to take all the tests
and pay all the fees if you ever want to get the 2 wheel endorsement
A new license will be issued with an endorsement code that indicates
you are legal to operate a two or three-wheeled motorcycle or both.
The new endorsement codes are as follows:
Type 3 - two-wheeled motorcycles only
Type 5 - three-wheeled motorcycle only
Type 7 - two and three-wheeled motorcycles


I am not an experienced operator, how do I get the three-wheeled
motorcycle endorsement added to my license?

Inexperienced riders can get the three-wheeled motorcycle
endorsement in one of two ways:

Apply at a driver licensing office and pass the operator's knowledge
and skills test. The endorsement will be issued after you pass both
tests. or;
Take the three-wheeled motorcycle rider training class and present
the class completion card at any driver licensing office in the
state to get your new license and three-wheeled motorcycle
In both cases a $5 application fee, $10 endorsement fee and $10
license issuance fee will be required to get the endorsement added
to your license.


When will the training program for three-wheeled motorcycles be

The three-wheeled motorcycle rider classes will be available in the
Seattle and hopefully Spokane area beginning in January 2004. You
will need to contact the provider to get scheduled for a class.
Class location and contact information will be available at or, beginning in January you can call
(800) 962-9010, extension 9, for class information. Three-wheeled
motorcycle t

So how is this working? Is it being enforced? Are there classes readily available throughout the state? Is the reservoir of sidecarist needing instruction too small to support adequate training programs?

Classes are available in the Seattle and Spokane area. I know of waits of up to a month for an available class. Probably due to class size or instructor availability. The providers of the classes are (like so much of Washington's licensing processes) private contractors. So I would imagine they wish to have a full boat for the classes.
Since this is the first year of the 3 wheel endorsements, a lot of people are probably unaware of the statute changes.
I know of no one who has been ticketed for lack of a three wheel endorsement, but I also know of no one who has been ticketed for not having a two wheeled motorcycle endorsement either.
The main thing here is that one no longer has to furnish his/her own sidehack rig for training and the State fund will pay the first $100.00 of the training cost. Any remaining amount will be paid by the student. That's a pretty good incentive to take the course and learn safe sidecar piloting. Another benefit is if one decides later that they don't care to 3 wheel it, they are not out thousands of dollars that they have invested in a sidecar outfit.
Not everyone has the ability to handle a two wheeler or a three wheeler. If they cannot pass the course they won't get the endorsement and won't be able to drive an outfit legally in Washington State.
(They may still make a good monkey though).

Just a note about the sidecar/trike safety training course provided by Evergreen Safety Council. I attended a class in August of this year in the Seattle area. The instructors , were knowledgable and displayed their ablities in handling both the sidecar rigs and the trikes.They spent additional time with everyone who needed it. The rigs ( sidecars and trikes ) were suitable for the training environment. The practicle training was informative and fun. A very safe and controled driving area.
For a new hack rider such as myself this couse is a must.
Just thought I would put in my two cents .

I just took (and passed) my written DOL test last week. I now have a 90 day permit. Evergreen does not have any space available in a subsidized class within the next 90 days. They have room in one class for full price ($275) at the end of June.

My plan is to practice on my own and take the riding test at the DOL course and spend my money later for the "advanced" sidecar course from Evergreen.

I admit I am disappointed at the lack of space in subsidized Evergreen courses.

Do you feel a little 'trapped' ?

You can contact your Congressman and the DMV to encourage them to provide more access to these classes. I get the impression from the folks at Washington Department of licensing that they feel there is not much demand for S/TEP training and no need to expand the program beyond the classes they offer in Seattle and Moses Lake.

I know Evergreen is closer to you , but an alternative when you are ready, would be take a drive down to Oregon for a vacation and some instruction

I am offering the Advanced Step class in Hood River June 2&3, 2007.

August 25&26, 2007

October 13&14, 2007

I also offer the Novice S/TEP class May thru October, but, unfortunately, Washington does not grant a license waiver if you take the classes out of state.
You can find out more about the classes I offer at my website:

Vernon wrote:
>> Washington does not grant a license waiver if you take the classes out of state.<<
Too bad..sounds like a 'catch 22' for the Washington folks.(I would say 'fiasco' again but won'
I agree ,yes, take the course even if S/TEP 'certified' instrutors who are in another state who provide the same class are not recognized in Washington.

Trapped... heck yes!

One more endorsement I have to pay extra for when I renew my license.

People should be free to take the risks they deem appropriate
for themselves. A warning label would do more to promote safety
than forcing people to take these tests and pay extra.

Spending two days driving around in a parking lot is something I can
do myself. I already have enough sense to take it easy and ride very
conservatively for the first few weeks. I encountered side hacks when
I was a kid riding BMX.

But ultimately... I'm an adult and am capable of assessing risk and
deciding for myself whether I want to take a special course for my
own safety, or read available info and practice on may own and save
$100 and two days which I really can't spare right now.

And I object to yet another covert form of taxation in the form of
additional fees when I renew my driver's license.

This whole fiasco could be the deciding factor on whether I will
buy the Ural I would like to have, or just keep riding my two
wheeler. Who can I sue when I fall because of riding over an ice
patch on two wheels because I didn't want to go through the
extra hassle to get the 3-wheel endorsement?

What's next, seperating sportbikes, cruisers, choppers, dual purpose,
trikes and side cars each into their own endorsements?

I would complain to my legislature that they are all registered under
the same classification, but I know exactly where that would lead!


I think the rant is a bit overboard.

There is a lot more to the S/TEP class than riding around a parking lot and while practice on your own is a good thing, there is no way you will get as much out of un-coached practice alone as you would from taking a class and then going out and practicing what you were taught.

That said, I am not a big fan of the added sidecar/trike endorsement that Washington requires.I think it is an unnecessary impediment to people getting into our corner of the sport. Given the requirement for that 3 wheel endorsement in Washington, the state is failing to meet it's own statute guidelines and cheating the folks that live outside the Seattle area.

I do think the S/TEP training program, subsidized by rider registrations is a very good idea as are the basic motorcycle classes offered solo riders. BUT the money should be absolutely earmarked for training, not subject to budget raids by the politicos, the state should be kicking in additional money and training opportunities should be much more available, throughout the country. It is a shame that they are not, just because it is a proven way to reduce accidents.

I still think safety is a personal responsibility, and risk is
a personal choice to be made freely by individuals.

When actions significantly affect others, then regulation
is reasonable. I believe that the government is trying
to legislate away all risk. The fact that in Seattle an
adult is required by law to wear a bicycle helmet is one
of the clearer examples (it's county wide, actually).
Very few bicyclists are killed by head injuries which
they would have otherwise survived had they been wearing
a helmet.

Motorcyclists should be free to choose what risk level they
are willing to accept in the learning process. There are
not hundreds of trikes or sidecar riders crashing, let
alone hurting others.

The classes are fine, and I may decide to take one, but
it should be my decision. People who don't think they really
need to be there often make lousy students. If I decide to
go, I do know that I will learn valuable skills, but I am
convinced there are other ways to acquire those skills. Books,
videos, practice, and mentoring are a few.

There are just too many laws regulating behaviors that
are not the government's responsibility. It's getting to
the point where I have to get a landscaping permit and
environmental impact study to mow my lawn! Let's not keep
letting the government make decisions in every facet of
life for us. I don't want the government as a father figure.

Hey, Jones,
You're preaching to the choir. The place for your rant is in Olympia.
I had over 4 years of the pricey #7 Washington endorsement left when I dropped it and I moved back to Idaho and bought a license in a ride free State. It's great having the right to choice.


As far as I know, the classes are a matter of choice. The endorsement is required.

The classes are a choice to some extent... there is heavy
incentives to take the classes (like insurance breaks and
test waiver).

I used to not care about helmet laws... until the time
I was moving my motorcycle a few spaces in a parking lot
and almost got a ticket.
There is a Wednesday night classic car cruise at the A&W near
where we live. I called my wife and said "Why don't I meet you &
the kids there after work. When I got there, there was another bike,
so I parked next to him in the same parking spot.

My wife got there, I put my riding gear in her car.
We decided to have pizza instead of A&W, as there is a pizza
parlor in the same parking lot nearby. I saw that there
were a lot more classic cars there now, and the other bike
had left, so now there were classic cars surrounding my bike.

I decided the car guys would probably like to have that
parking space. So I told my wife to go ahead of me to
the pizza place and I'll catch up after moving my bike.

My gear was still locked in her car, but since I was only
going 50 yards at 10 mph on private property, I should
be okay w/o the helmet. I was going slower than the
policeman on the mountain bike wearing the cheap bicycle
helmet... the one who yelled "Pull it over, RIGHT NOW"

I explained it to him, and said politely that I didn't
think it would be an issue on private property.
He was going to write me a ticket until I said
"You know what burns me... I was moving my bike
to be polite to the classic car group, and you're writing
me a ticket for that"

He finally relented. I suspect someone at dispatch might
have told him to drop it (he did go on his radio at
some point).

But I am sick of public safety codes.

I'm convinced that the police will shoot you for your own
safety if they have to do so to enforce your safety.

Page 1 of 8Next