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Washington Moped Laws

December 28, 2022

With rising gas prices and rising awareness of harmful emissions, mopeds are an energy-efficient and eco-friendly choice for short daily commutes and weekend recreation. They provide individual mobility and freedom from parking problems and Washington urban-area traffic jams.

But before you hop on a moped and head for the horizons it’s important to become well-versed in Washington’s moped laws. Freedom from traffic tangles does not mean moped riders have freedom from traffic laws. Washington’s state laws regulate all motorized vehicles for safety, including cars, motorcycles, mopeds, and scooters.

Washington Moped Laws

What is a Moped, and Does it Require Licensing?

Many people used the words “moped’ and “scooter’ interchangeably, but the terms actually apply to two different vehicles, with two different sets of regulation rules and licensing requirements. While both may have 2 or 3 wheels, mopeds are slower and more compact than scooters. Mopeds have smaller engines than scooters and cannot exceed 30 miles per hour. A moped’s engine is smaller than 50 cubic centimeters, while a scooter typically has an engine of 50 cubic centimeters or greater.

In order to operate a moped in Washington, you do not need a special license or endorsement as long as your moped meets the accepted standards of a moped with an engine under 50 cubic centimeters, an inability to exceed 30mph, and under 2-brake horsepower. However, you do need to register your moped and have a valid Washington driver’s license.

Registering a Moped

Moped drivers must be at least sixteen years old. To ride a moped in Washington, drivers must first apply to their local licensing department. Registering requires a vehicle identification number, proof of name and address, and a small registration fee. The moped owner must display the registration number on the moped, carry a valid driver’s license, and have a license tag. If you buy a new moped from a dealership, the title and tag should arrive in the mail. If you purchased your moped used, you should go to your local DMV and bring the title and registration fee within 15 days after the purchase.

Unlike motorcycle owners, moped owners are not required to carry liability insurance on their mopeds; However, many motorcycle insurance companies also offer optional liability coverage for mopeds and scooters as well as insurance against damage and theft. Liability coverage will help pay for medical expenses for an injured passenger or bystander and for any property damage in the event of an accident.

Washington Moped Road Rules

All moped drivers and passengers must wear helmets approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation while operating a moped. The law states that they must also wear protective eyewear while in motion. Moped drivers must obey all traffic laws, signals, yield signs, pedestrian crossings, and other rules of the road.

Moped transportation is popular in urban areas, suburban neighborhoods, and on college campuses. There are some restrictions in place for where the law allows mopeds to operate. Washington residents and visitors are NOT allowed to drive a moped on the following:

  • Bike and pedestrian paths
  • Sidewalks
  • Equestrian (horse-riding) trails
  • Hiking trails
  • Limited access highways such as interstates and freeways

Lane splitting — or driving between lanes of slow or stopped traffic in the same direction — is illegal for motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds in Washington. Always park in marked moped parking spaces where they’re available.

You must never remove mufflers or anti-pollution devices from your moped.

Mopeds are fuel-efficient, low-maintenance options for local transportation. If you follow road rules and traffic laws and always wear protective eyewear and a helmet, you can safely enjoy the relaxed, open-atmosphere enjoyment that comes with this simple and effective way to get where you’re going.

If you or a loved one was injured in a moped accident, an experienced Seattle accident attorney can help recover the compensation you deserve. Contact our law firm now to schedule a free consultation.

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