Washington DC, like every other state, has its own motorcycle laws. These laws serve to protect the riders and the others around them as well. If you don’t follow the motorcycle laws you could face traffic citations.

All motor vehicles registered in the state, including motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds, must be insured to cover the costs of any damages/injuries they might cause should an accident happen.

Nontraditional Vehicles

In Washington DC as “nontraditional” vehicles are considered motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, motorized bicycles, and low-speed vehicles (golf carts, etc.). These types of vehicles require the same insurance as cars and trucks. Here is how the “nontraditional” vehicles are defined:

  • Motorcycle is a two- or three-wheeled motor vehicle that has one or more of the following characteristics:
    • Can travel over 35 miles per hour on level ground.
    • Wheels under 16 inches in diameter.
    • Brake horsepower of more than one and one-half (1.5) (S.A.E. rating).
    • Manual transmission.
    • Piston displacement of more than fifty (50) cubic centimeters.
  • Motorized bicycle is a two- or three-wheeled vehicle which possess all of the characteristics listed below:
    • Wheels more than 16 inches in diameter.
    • Automatic transmission.
    • Piston displacement of not more than fifty (50) cubic centimeters.
    • Maximum speed under 35 miles per hour on level ground.
    • Brake horsepower cannot exceed one and one-half (1.5) (S.A.E. rating)
  • Low-speed vehicle is any four-wheeled motor vehicle whose top speed is higher than 20 miles per hour, but not higher than 25 miles per hour.

If you have doubts whether your vehicle needs insurance, dial 311 or (202) 737-4404 to reach the DC DMV.

Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

Here are the minimum requirements you must meet in The District of Columbia in order to ride your motorcycle legally:


  • $25,000 per person for injury.
  • $50,000 per accident for injury.
  • $10,000 per accident for property damage.

Uninsured Motorist

  • $25,000 per person for injury.
  • $50,000 per accident for injury.
  • $5,000 per accident for property damage, subject to $200 deductible.

Helmet Requirements

In the District of Columbia, all motorcycle riders are required to wear a safety helmet while riding. In addition to this, all motorcycle operators must wear goggles or a face shield, unless the bike is equipped with a windscreen, or unless the operator wears eyeglasses with safety glass lenses.

Financial Responsibility

Liability insurance policy, that protects you against uninsured drivers, is the only proof of financial responsibility accepted in Washington DC.

Proof of Insurance

All motorcycle riders in the state must present proof of insurance when pulled over by a police officer. This proof must be issued by your insurance company and must include the name of the company, the policy number, your name (or the name of the insured), and dates covered by the policy. A card with this information should be issued to you by the insurance company.


  • If you can’t show your proof of insurance to an officer upon request, you will be fined $30.
  • If you are caught without insurance or have no proof of insurance, you will be fined $150.
  • If you still can’t present proof of insurance after 30 days, you will be charged $7 for each additional day until you can show you’re covered, up to $2,500.
Last updated on Thursday, October 15 2020.