Q: Is it legal to drive without the doors on your vehicle? – a curious reader
A: Now, this curious reader wasn’t asking this question in a general sense. He or she had a particular vehicle in mind.
“My neighbor drives a sports vehicle, perhaps a Jeep. Bright yellow. I see him driving around Tacoma with the driver’s side door off. Is this legal anywhere? Doesn’t seem safe,” this person wrote to us here at Traffic Q&A headquarters.
We once owned a Jeep Wrangler. Bright red. Soft top. We loved everything about that rig. Except the noise. And the bad gas mileage. And the leaky roof. And the fact it had barely any cargo space. And the noise.
Anyhoo, we can report that the doors were built in such a way as to make them easy to remove. While we were too chicken ever to do so, we on occasion saw other Jeep owners do just what our questioner has observed his or her neighbor doing.
It’s a Jeep thing. But is it legal?
We put the question to Sgt. James Prouty of the Washington State Patrol.
Prouty pointed us to RCW 46.37.517, titled, “Body and body hardware.”
Subsection (2) reads:
“The hood, hood latches, hood fastenings, doors and door latches shall be maintained in a condition sufficient to ensure proper working equal to that at the time of original vehicle manufacture.”
We are easily confused by legislative language, so we asked Prouty for an interpretation.
“To summarize, if your vehicle was manufactured with doors, then it is required to have doors,” he said.
“Yes, sir. When they are operating the vehicle on public roadways, per the RCW, they are required to have doors,” Prouty said.