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California Scooter and Moped Driving Laws

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Photo: The Telegraph

If you are considering trading your car for an electric scooter or moped on your daily commute, you should be aware of the driving laws that apply to California scooter or moped drivers before hitting the road.

First, determine what type of scooter you will be driving.

California DMV has a few different classifications of 2 wheeled vehicles and you need to identify what class your vehicle falls under to know which laws apply to you.

  • Motorcycles have only two wheels and an engine that is over 150cc in size. Motorcycles must be registered and their drivers must have a valid motorcycle (M1) license.
  • Motor-Driven Cycles have engines that are 149cc or less. These vehicles must also be registered and require drivers to hold an M1 license.
  • Mopeds or “motorized bicycles” are vehicles that are either fully electric, or have pedals supplemented by an automatic transition motor. There are two categories of mopeds: Mopeds that are capable of speeds over 20 but under 30 mph, which require a motorcycle (M1 or M2) license; and mopeds that cannot achieve speed higher than 20 mph, which may be driven with any class of driver’s license. Both categories of mopeds must be registered.
  • Scooters are powered by a motor, have handlebars, and a floorboard that is designed to be stood upon when riding. Scooters may be driven with any class of driver’s license and do not have to be registered.

Next, register your vehicle and obtain the correct license.

If your vehicle is classified as a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or first type of moped category above, you will need to obtain a motorcycle license and register your vehicle. Both can be done at your local DMV. If you already have a license and your vehicle falls under the second category of mopeds, you will only need to complete registration; and if you will be driving a scooter—there are no additional steps to take before getting on the road.

Finally, follow the laws of the road.

According to the California Vehicle Code, drivers of motorized scooters on and second-class mopeds on highways have the same rights and are subject to the same traffic laws as drivers of traditional vehicles—including driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Vehicles are required to have a headlight, be driven in the bike lane when possible, and drivers must wear helmets at all times. Additionally, motorized scooters may not be driven on roads that have a speed limit in excess of 25mph, unless there is a bike lane. Motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, and first class mopeds may be driven on the road as any car would.

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