If you live in California and plan on buying a 3 wheel scooter for kids you should check the current laws before doing that. Make sure you have the proper license before riding a moped or a scooter on public roads and check where you are allowed to do so. Also, see if there is any registration or insurance required as laws may vary according to each state.
What is legally defined as a moped?
California vehicle regulations define as a moped a vehicle with an engine with a cylindrical capacity of maximum 50cc and it does not produce more than two brake horsepower. Also, it must be equipped with pedals for human propulsion and an automatic transmission.
As technology evolved and electric scooters became more popular, the authorities said that vehicles equipped with an electric engine but with no pedals for human propulsion also qualify as a moped.
Every vehicle with a bigger engine size, more horsepower, or any of its parameters greater than the mentioned criteria for a moped is considered to be either a motorcycle or a motorized bike. When it comes to classifying a vehicle the most important criteria are engine size, brake horsepower, and top speed.
Driving license required
If you want to drive a moped on public roads, you must have an M1 or M2 class driving license. Also, proper auto insurance is required by law. Some of the mopeds available on today’s market are eligible for a one-time registration in order to obtain special license plates without needing to renew them.
So check out these vehicles before purchasing a moped as it might save you time and money.
Registration and insurance
A piece of good news about riding a moped is that no insurance or form of registration is required in California. However, you should check some options for insurance coverage as you might produce or get involved in accidents.
Keep in mind you must be at least 16 years old to legally drive a moped on public roads and must wear at all times an appropriately fitted bicycle helmet.
Speed regulations for mopeds
California’s laws allow people to drive the moped on streets with a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour. On streets with a greater speed limit, moped riders can ride in the bike lane if it is available.
It is against the law to operate any type of motorized vehicle on sidewalks and some of the local areas might have different laws regarding mopeds and where riders can use them legally.
California laws for motorized scooters
In the state of California, a motorized scooter is also defined as an electric scooter. To be defined as a scooter, a vehicle must have at least two wheels touching the ground at all times, handlebars, a deck (or floor) for the rider to sit on while operating the scooter, and a motor that propels the scooter.
We know that when picturing a scooter you think it should have a driver’s seat but in California, this is not a defining trait for a scooter.
Driving license required
In California, you can legally drive a scooter on public roads with any class of driver’s license, but you still need a valid driver’s license. You don’t have to register your scooter at the DMV and no license plate is required because motorized scooters are considered to be street-legal vehicles.
While operating a motorized scooter on public roads, the driver must respect the safety and traffic laws as any other automobile driver. Nevertheless, California has some scooter-specific regulations.
Scooter’s restrictions and requirements
The operator must wear at all times a helmet approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Even if you want to save time by riding the scooter on sidewalks, it is against the law so you should stay on roads regardless of how crowded the city gets. Also, only the driver can use the scooter as it’s against the law to have passengers.
Speed regulations for scooters
It is against the law to ride a scooter on public roads faster than 25 miles per hour unless you can ride it in a bike lane. For mobility scooters, the speed limit is 30 miles per hour. But this law applies only for scooters operated by elder citizens or people with a physical disability.
Scooter and moped renting
You can’t rent a scooter or moped unless you have an appropriate driver’s license to operate it. It doesn’t matter if you are in the United States or in a foreign country – if you plan on renting any type of vehicle, you must respect the local licensing laws.
Before renting a scooter or moped, make sure to check the local law to determine if you meet the imposed requirements. You and your friends might be tempted to rent a vehicle while on holiday, but you should avoid renting a scooter or moped from a business that doesn’t ask you for proof of a proper license.
Keep in mind it does not matter what contract you sign, the insurance company does not cover you or the rented vehicle as long as you are breaking the law. The majority of the rental companies will offer temporary scooter or moped rental insurance if it is mandatory in the state.
Also, you could ask your current insurer for some information if you already have a motorcycle or scooter insurance. There is a chance you might get them to extend the coverage for the rented vehicle.
Scooter and moped insurance
Usually, motorcycle insurance covering a scooter or moped is cheaper than using the same insurance option for a classic motorcycle. There are a few reasons for this situation, but mostly because scooters and mopeds have less powerful engines so they can’t reach high speeds.
Also, the places where you can ride a moped or a scooter are limited so the risk of injuring other traffic participants or personal property is lower.
Insurance for classic scooters and mopeds
If your scooter or moped meets the criteria for a classic or vintage vehicle, you will need to find a specialty insurance company to get it fully insured. Vintage scooters and mopeds require the same forms of insurance coverage to be operated on public roads, so the policy must incorporate liability insurance and any other type of insurance imposed by the state.
Keep in mind, older vehicles are more expensive to repair or replace than regular vehicles. This is why you should get a higher limit of coverage so ask the insurer if this is possible. Even if they tell you it’s possible, don’t rush into signing the forms. Take your time and compare quotes from insurers that specialize in policies for classic scooters and mopeds.
Riding safely a moped or scooter in California
California is known for its congested traffic and dangerous roads. If you are a moped or scooter enthusiast, you should avoid large roads and use the side streets of the residential areas.
If you are using a scooter or moped for your daily trips, make sure to plan a safe course so you will avoid major thoroughfares or other crowded streets. Having some good practices for moped and scooter riding can drastically reduce the chance of getting involved in a serious accident.
Have a defensive style of riding
Don’t forget when riding a scooter or a moped there is no structure to protect you in case of an accident. When driving a car, its frame, body panels, and doors can absorb some of the impacts, thus protecting the passengers, but a scooter driver has nothing to reduce the shock.
Always try to ride safely, use bike lanes if available, and try to foresee the actions of other drivers to lower the risk of accidents. Mopeds and scooters are known to be dangerous vehicles, even for more experienced riders.
If you plan on riding a two-wheeled vehicle, obey all applicable laws and remain cautious at all times. Not respecting the state’s laws might easily lead to fines, getting your license suspended or even disastrous injuries or death.
Wear protective equipment
It is required by California laws to use an approved by regulation helmet when driving on public roads. An appropriate helmet reduces the chances of getting serious head injuries and limits the risk of traumatic or deadly brain injuries. Also, if you are riding while it rains, wear reflective clothing so you are as visible as possible to other drivers.