Snoqualmie considers updated helmet law, and new penalties for kids AND parents

An new ordinance pertaining to bike/scooter/skateboard helmets might be coming to Snoqualmie. According to a city council discussion at the May 13th meeting, an effort to update Snoqualmie’s wheeled recreational devices and motorized scooters ordinance to include the the location of ‘city parks’ is what triggered the code examination and proposed update.

According to Councilmember Ross, the ordinance update started when she inquired if the current law directly pertained to the city’s new skatepark. As it turns out, it covered various city properties, but the specific language did not include ‘city parks.’ Now that the city has a skatepark, the Public Safety Council Committee decided it was in the public’s best interest to update that language.

The move also led to a discussion of what penalties might be for those who violate the ordinance and decide to ride without a helmet. As described by Councilmember Sundwall, as far as helmet enforcement went, it’s always been all or nothing, but with the municipal code update comes an ‘in between’ consequence – a warning that could include the impound of the violator’s bike/scooter/skateboard – including motorized scooters.

The Helmet Required section of the code says the helmet must be “designed for safety and shall have either the neck or the chin strap of the helmet fastened securely while the motorized scooter or wheeled recreational device is in motion.”

Note to parents, the proposed “WHEELED RECREATIONAL DEVICES AND MOTORIZED FOOT SCOOTERS” ordinance also has a parental responsibility section that reads: It is unlawful for any parent, guardian or other person having control or custody of a minor child to authorize or knowingly permit said minor to operate a motorized foot scooter or wheeled recreational devices in violation of this chapter.”

In the proposed ordinance, riding without a helmet in Snoqualmie would be considered a traffic infraction so an officer may, at their discretion, issue a civil infraction.

SPD Chief Phipps, said officer discretion could include talking and educating with just a verbal warning – to an impound of the device – and if the person continue to violate the code, a misdemeanor citation could be issued.

The impounding of the device could also come with parental notification and a $50 fee to get it out of police storage.

Full Violation – Penalties section of proposed ordinance:

A. Any person violating the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed to have committed a traffic infraction and any Snoqualmie police officer may, at their discretion, issue a civil infraction.

B. In lieu of the penalty described above, any Snoqualmie police officer may utilize the following penalty provision for a person less than 16 years of age operating a motorized foot scooter or wheeled recreational device within the city of Snoqualmie in violation of this chapter:

  1. The officer may take custody of and impound the motorized foot scooter or wheeled recreational device. If the officer does not impound the motorized foot scooter or wheeled recreational device, he or she may release it only to an adult, provided, the officer shall provide the operator with a written notice setting forth the procedure
    for reclaiming the motorized foot scooter or wheeled recreational device.
  2. The procedure for reclaiming the device shall be promulgated by the chief of police, and may include the requirement that the person under 16 years of age receive approved instruction on the safe operation of motorized foot scooters and wheeled recreational devices.
  3. Only the parent or legal guardian of a violator or an adult owner may reclaim a motorized foot scooter or other wheeled recreational device impounded pursuant to this section.
  4. A $50.00 fee for costs of impoundment and administrative processing shall be paid to the city clerk prior to the release of any property impounded under this alternative penalty.
  5. Any unclaimed devices may be disposed of in accordance with state law.

C. The second violation by any parent or guardian of SMC 10.35.060 shall be a misdemeanor.

Read the full WHEELED RECREATIONAL DEVICES AND MOTORIZED FOOT SCOOTERS ordinance HERE.

Chief Phipps said if the new ordinance is approved, the city’s communication department would conduct an informational outreach effort. He also said signs at the popular skatepark would be changed as they currently read helmets are ‘highly recommended.’

At the May 13th meeting, Mayor Larson said the ordinance will be brought back to the council for possible action in a ‘couple of weeks.’

Snoqualmie Skatepark while under construction in fall 2018.

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