electric scooters for adults street legal

Did you know millions of Millennials are rejecting cars in favor of alternative transport?

For a ton of reasons — from saving the environment to saving hard-earned money— people are turning to e-bikes, electric scooters, and even hoverboards. Yes, your kid’s favorite toy scooter is now a legit form of transportation!

But is an electric scooter for adults street legal? Do you need a license? Can you ride it on the sidewalk and do you need to wear a helmet?

Read on for the 411.

Is an Electric Scooter for Adults Street Legal?

So, is an electric scooter for adults street legal? Unfortunately, there is no yes/no answer. Because it’s a relatively new form of transportation, current laws and legislation may or may not apply. This is because most laws were originally made for traditional, non-powered bicycles.

Whether you can legally ride an electric moped or scooter depends on your state’s local laws. But the confusing part is that your state may allow electric scooters, but your city might not. And your city may encourage the use of e-scooters, but your college campus may not!

Mind-boggling, right?

But what does Federal Law say? The US 2002 Federal Law states that an electric bike is street legal if:

  • it has a top speed of 20 mph or less
  • it has a motor power below 750W

If your electric moped fits into that category, you will not need a license or registration to ride in most states. But this rule and others vary. Keep reading to find out more.

Scooter Laws in the US

In most areas around the US, e-scooters follow the same rules as electric bicycles. This means in most places you can ride your scooter on trails, public roads, and bike lanes. Riding on side-walks is off-limits for anyone over the age of 12.

However, small toy-like e-scooters are not allowed on public roads. To qualify as road-worthy, they must be sturdily equipped with good tires, a suspension system, and steering. Some states also require they have rear-view mirrors, a horn, lights, and turn signals.

They are the basic rules to follow. But, in certain states and cities, the rules are slightly varied. Here are a few examples.

California

In the land of surfing and skateboards, of course, scooters are all the rage! The trendy transportation sparked a surge in popularity. This led to clarifications in their electric scooter laws.

Current California state law says:

  • You must have a valid drivers license (or a learning permit) to ride
  • You can’t ride your scooter over 15 mph
  • You cannot ride on a street with a speed limit of over 25 mph (unless a bike lane is available)
  • If you ride on the road, you must stay close to the right curb
  • You must wear a helmet

These extra rules are super handy when deciding whether to invest in an electric scooter in California.

Georgia

In Georgia, the rules are slightly different. These rules apply for the state of Georgia, but you should check your local municipality to find out the rules in your neighborhood.

If a scooter has an engine of over 50cc, it’s subject to the same rules as motorcycles. This means you will need a motorcycle license, registration, and insurance. You also have to be the age of 17 or over.

However, for a low-powered electric scooter, you don’t need a license, registration or insurance. You can ride on bike paths, bike lanes, and on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less.

Children who are under 16 need to wear a helmet. And nobody can use them on sidewalks, even kids.

New York

If you dream of scooting around the city of dreams, you’re out of luck. The state of New York doesn’t allow e-scooters on any street, sidewalk, parking lot or highway.

Until the rules change, stay out of the big apple!

Ride with Common Sense as Your Guide

When you’re riding around on your scooter, you may feel like you’re above the law. But the rules of the road still apply to you. Here are a few examples:

  • Look out for pedestrians
  • Stay out of the way of faster traffic
  • Obey traffic laws (such as stoplights and one-way streets)
  • Ride slow to prevent accidents
  • Be sure your scooter is road-worthy before riding (for example, the brakes are working properly)
  • Use bike lanes when you have the option
  • No passengers allowed
  • You must have at least one hand on your handlebars at all times
  • Don’t hitch the scooter onto another vehicle
  • When driving in the dark, you need to use a white headlight and a red reflector

While these rules aren’t on paper, most are basic common sense!

Before You Ride, Let’s Wrap Up

An electric moped or scooter is a lot of fun. Not only is it eco-friendly, but it’s friendly on your wallet too. It’s easy to see why so many are turning to this alternative form of transportation.

But are they legal? Let’s wrap up.

Until any laws that address street legal scooters are officially made, remember these points:

  • In most cases, you CAN ride your e-scooter any place you can ride a traditional bicycle.
  • In most states, e-scooters are legal, but in some cities, they’re not.
  • In other areas, riding scooters may be legal, but a few extra rules may apply, such as wearing a helmet.

So make sure to check local laws and legislation to be on the safe side!

And whatever you do or wherever you ride, use common sense to make your experience safe and secure. Both for yourself and others around you.

Keep Calm and Scoot On!

So, is an electric scooter for adults street legal? As it all depends on your state, the best thing to do is to keep calm, check local laws, and scoot on!

But remember, as electric scooters are still pretty new, you may face issues. If a local policeman fines you for riding street legal scooters without a license, what can you do? Contact us for a free case evaluation and we’ll get you on the right track!

Author Photo

Mark Wade

Mark Wade is a personal injury trial lawyer in Georgia. He has built a law firm that specializes in car, truck, and motorcycle accidents in order to provide his clients with the highest level of expertise for their auto accident cases.

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