Washington Motorist Info

The following information is updated periodically. However, laws and regulations can change between updates. State statutes and local ordinances are the ultimate authorities for these issues.

Points of Interest

  • Washington requires that a defendant must specifically request the arresting officer to be present in court.
  • Washington State law states that drivers must stay right except to pass.
  • Washington State law states that you are allowed to temporarily exceed the speed limit while passing a vehicle that is traveling below the speed limit.
  • In the Seattle downtown core area (bounded by the water, I-5, Royal Brougham, and Denny), it is illegal to make a U-turn, even in instances where the turn would otherwise be legal under state law. There are no signs to announce this traffic law.

Speed Limits

Rural Interstates: Cars 70, Trucks 60
Urban Interstates: Cars 60, Trucks 60
Other Limited Access Roads: Cars 60, Trucks 60

These speed limits apply unless a different limit is posted.

Speed limits are absolute–exceeding the speed limit is illegal per se (regardless of whether it was safe under the specific conditions).

Speed Limits Enforcement Techniques
Enforced through use of:
Pacing: Yes
Radar: Yes
Vascar: No
Automated Speed Enforcement: Yes
Aircraft: Yes
Laser: Yes

Ticket Payment Methods
Consult your ticket or clerk of courts

Trial By Declaration Allowed

May or may not be allowed
RULE CrR 4.7

Jury Trial Allowed
Speeding: No
Parking: No
Equipment: No
DWI: Yes

Member of Nonresident Compact

Member of Driver License Compact

When and Where to File Accident Reports
The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to the property of any one person to an apparent extent equal to or greater than ($700 as of 6/10), shall, within four days after such accident, make a written report of such accident to the chief of police of the city or town if such accident occurred within an incorporated city or town or the county sheriff or state patrol if such accident occurred outside incorporated cities and towns.

(Paraphrase of RCW 46.52.030, http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.52.030) (http://www.kingcounty.gov/safety/sheriff/Services/Accident.aspx)

Resident Insurance Requirements
Liability insurance is required (although some states allow posting a cash bond or such as an alternative)
Minimum Coverage Required:
Injury to one person: $25,000
All injuries: $50,000
Property Damage:$10,000

Phone/Texting Restrictions
Hand-Held Ban: All drivers
All Cell Phone Ban: Learners permit and intermediate license holders
Texting Ban: All drivers
Enforcement: Primary: for all offenses

Other Regulations

  • Open intoxicants are prohibited in the vehicle unless in the trunk of the vehicle.
  • The BAC level is .08%.
  • Washington has an administrative license suspension law and an implied consent law. The breathalyzer refusal penalty is a 1-year driver’s license suspension.
  • Handguns must be unloaded and secured in an opaque case; rifles and shotguns must be unloaded and secured in a gun rack or gun case.
  • Studded tires are permitted from November 1 to April 1.
  • Tire chains are required where DOT “tire chain required” signs are posted on the mountain passes.
  • Washington has a seat belt law with primary enforcement for all occupants.
  • Washington has a mandatory child restraint law for passengers under 11 years of age. Children under age 3 must use approved car safety seats.
  • Washington has a mandatory motorcycle helmet law.
  • Registration and insurance card must be carried in the vehicle.

General Information
http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/docs/driverguide-en.pdf (Driver Guide)
Emergency Cellular Phone Number: 360/438-7700 or 911