Laws Concerning Electric Scooters
Notice: This information is not meant to be taken as legal advice. If you have
any specific questions, always consult an attorney in your area!


Click here to find a link for the DMV of your state:
DMV link


Are Electric Scooters Legal?
Some of the Regulations...
General Rules of Thumb for 49cc Mopeds and Scooters
Moped and Scooter Laws
Laws for Various States
Canada Scooter Laws
Australia Scooter Laws
Ireland Scooter Laws
United Kingdom Scooter Laws
 

Are Electric Scooters Legal?

This is the question we're asked most often.

The answer varies from state to state and even in some cases from community to community within the same state. 

Historically, electric scooters have occupied a vague stratum of the law, nestled somewhere between motorcycles and bicycles. Lacking the speed and safety features (turn signals, lights, horns, etc.) of motorcycles, e-scooters were not deemed street legal.

Recently, though, with all of the interest over getting cars off of our streets and hydrocarbons out of our air, lawmakers have come to view the electric scooter more favorably as a viable means of alternative transportation. The great state of California, for example, recently legalized electric scooters for drivers over the age of 16.

As an example, the definition of a motorized scooter as used in the California Vehicle Code is: any two-wheel device that has handlebars, is designed to be stood or sat upon by the operator and is powered by a motor capable of propelling the device with or without human propulsion.

Some of the regulations are as follows:

   1. The operator must be at least 16 years of age.

   2. A driver's license is not required.

   3. No insurance, registration or license plates are required

   4. The operator may not have any passengers.

   5. The operator must have a least one hand on the handlebars at all times.

   6. Driving under the influence is applicable on scooters.

   7. Scooters may not be operated at a speed greater than 15 mph.

   8. Scooters may not be operated on streets with a speed limit more than 25 mph, unless it is operated in a marked bicycle lane.

   9. Scooters may not be operated on sidewalks.

   10. The operator may not make a left turn at an intersection. The operator shall stop and dismount at the right hand side of the roadway or curb and then complete the turn by crossing the roadway on foot.

   11. The handlebars must be at or below the level of the operator's shoulders.

   12. The operator may not park the scooter on a sidewalk if it blocks the path of the sidewalk.

   13. The operator may not attach them self or the scooter to any other vehicle on the roadway.

   14. Equipment requirements during darkness:

     a. Must have a white headlight visible from 300 feet from the front and the sides.

     b. Must have a red reflector on the rear of the scooter or attached to the operator of the scooter visible from 500 feet.

     c. Must have a white or yellow reflector on each side visible from 200 feet in front and the rear of the scooter.

     d. Must have an engine/motor kill switch that activates when released or when the brakes are applied.

   15. Motor scooters shall not emit excessive noise. This usually is the result of a modified exhaust system.

An operator of a motorized scooter may be cited by a police officer and ordered to appear in court for violating the laws regulating these vehicles. Parents or guardians of a minor may be liable for injury to persons or property in a collision.

If you live in an area where electric scooters are technically illegal, check with your local law enforcement. If your community is progressively inclined, you may find that the police tolerate electric scooters as long as they are operated in a responsible manner.

No matter what, always obey all traffic laws!


GENERAL RULE OF THUMB FOR 49cc MOPEDS AND SCOOTERS:
Persons riding mopeds or scooters have the same rights and duties as drivers of motor vehicles. Moped and scooter riders will receive citations for any and all traffic violations. Please remember; Although this rule of thumb may in-fact be the laws in your state, (and in many cases they are) we suggest that you do your own homework. You may find that the laws may differ between a Moped and a Scooter.

MOPED & SCOOTER LAWS:
1. You must be 16 years of age or older to operate a Moped or Scooter on a public road.
2. Operators of a Moped or Scooter must have the minimum of a class E license. (In most states a 49cc or smaller vehicle requires no license although you may need a tag. See your state regulations).
3. No motorcycle endorsement is required.
4. Moped or Scooter must be registered annually and a tag purchased.
5. Moped or Scooter may not be operated on bicycle paths or footpaths.
6. Moped or Scooter operators do not have to carry PIP insurance.
7. Operators 16 years of age or older are not required to wear helmets.

Summary of laws for the following states and countries:  
Click here to find the actual laws in your state. Scooter Laws

California
In California, riding electric scooters on the road is legal. Due to similarities in weight and speed, treating electric scooters like bikes makes sense. Unfortunately, the enabling legislation (SB 441) adds extra limitations (minimum age of 16, wear a helmet, etc.). Electric scooters have been ruled permissible on local transit, including BART. Two California cities (Petaluma and Sebastopol) have already passed a new city ordinance making electric scooters equivalent to bicycles. Other cities are encouraged to adopt the same ordinance. In the meantime, you'll likely avoid police interference if you ride safely and courteously. Unfortunately, police have stopped a few electric scooter riders, but if traffic laws are obeyed and common sense used, you will likely be fine riding your electric scooter.

Washington
The Washington State Patrol recently classified electric scooters as being illegal on streets and sidewalks. Check their DMV page for more info.

Canada
The following summary applies to British Columbia: Electric scooters are considered motorized vehicles under the (Provincial) Motor Vehicles Act. Just like a car or motorbike, they must travel the main roadway and follow the rules of the road. Being a motorized vehicle, you can't ride your electric scooters on the sidewalk. They must be registered as a motor vehicle (license plate, etc.), and are prohibited from operating on streets, in parks, or in ANY public places in the City of Vancouver. Vancouver Police can seize the scooter and fine you $85.00. If your electric scooter has a pedal or crank, other than yourself to motivate it, it would be exempt, and would be subject only to Municipal regulations the same as a bicycle.

Australia
All electric scooters must be fitted with a 200-Watt Compliance Plate and issued with an Engineering Test report. The test report has information such as the test date, or type test date, the drive ratio, and the engine and frame number of the scooter. All electric scooters riders must follow the rules of the road in Australia.

Ireland
Ireland requires a vehicle registration tax, road tax, and insurance (about $100) for electric scooters. When filling out the paperwork, there's a question about what cc equivalent to use. One suggestion uses 10cc as the equivalent cc rating. The 8-character license plate can be mounted along the side of the electric scooters.

United Kingdom
Electric scooters are motor vehicles and riders must have third party insurance and a driving license. As no insurance company yet offers such insurance, the machines are effectively outlawed. The UK department of transport has stated that as far as the ruling is concerned, the electric scooters description is that of a motorized vehicle, whereas the scooter is power assisted and therefore does not yet fall foul of the ruling. The main problem seems to be the speed when used on the public footpaths, obviously at 20 mph this can be quite dangerous. Some electric scooters do not fall into this category. If you are over 14 years of age, then it is illegal to ride a push bike on the pavements. This would also apply to electric scooters; So although the scooter is not yet outlawed, the use on a pavement is a police enforcement issue and you could still get fined.