Are you considering acquiring an electric scooter in the near future but don’t know if you’re going to be able to ride them to school or work? You’re not alone.
Whether or not it’s legal to drive an electric scooter in your neighborhood, a local road, or even on your campus is a difficult question to answer. That’s because there are no universal electric scooter laws at this time. You will need to check with the local authorities to find out, whether that’s your local town or college campus.
I wish it were much more simple than that, but the truth is that society is still trying to cope with the electric scooter movement. Due to the explosiveness of the electric scooter rental market all across the country, most communities are focused on problems concerning this particular issue and not considering the privately-owned electric scooter.
Why Should Owning Your Own Scooter Matter?
Someone who owns their own electric scooter is going to be far more responsible with that scooter than someone who just invested a few dollars to test one out. They are also going to be a far superior rider on that scooter as well.
While many municipalities are gawking at things like injury and accident statistics involving rental electric scooters, the privately-owned electric scooter market in America is steadily growing.
These electric scooters have a vast range of abilities. Some scooters can go over 40 mph. Some can climb quite steep hills quickly. There are some types of scooters that are made to explicitly go off-road onto nature trails and other off-road locations.
It will become more and more common to see electric scooters everywhere and there needs to be more ubiquitous laws concerning how these scooter should be ridden. That’s to not only protect society but to protect the scooter rider as well.
Should Electric Scooter Riders Need A License?
Some may argue that scooters are so similar to bicycles that licenses shouldn’t be needed. However, with the ability of these electric scooters to be ridden at much greater speeds now than ever before should necessitate better rules and regulations to keep everyone safe. That includes riders, pedestrians, bike riders, and cars.
In most communities it appears that there’s no special license requirement for an electric scooter if you’re just riding in your local neighborhood. However, this can be different in communities only a few miles from each other.
It also may differ between someone who has a stand-up electric scooter and someone who rides a seated electric scooter, especially one that look like a motorized moped.
Are There Any Federal Scooter Laws?
On the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration website, there is no searchable mention of scooters in any federal rules or regulations. The only mention I could find on the entire website was relegated to the section concerning the importation of motorcycles and scooters.
Electric Scooters Laws Are Coming To A State Near You
It’s believed that more and more state and local legislatures will take up the issue of scooter laws and regulations starting in 2019. The issue was simply still too new in 2018 for more than a few communities to be that concerned about it.
However, in 2019, those legislatures that begin to make rules regarding electric scooters will likely set the tone for many other communities across the country. These may either benefit or deter the local electric scooter market.
As it stands right now, if you’re riding a very fast electric scooter on a public road alongside other vehicles, you very well may be stopped by the local authorities. That’s especially true if your scooter doesn’t have a turn signal, brake lights, or you’re not wearing a helmet in a location where motorcycle riders are required to wear one. Even if there isn’t a set rule concerning scooters on the books in your town, you could still be cited as a motorcycle would if they were breaking the law.
These laws exist not only for the safety of the rider, but it helps to ensure the safety of others. When everyone shares the road, all need to know the traffic rules and obey them equally. It’s the only way to try and ensure safety of everyone on the road.
Will Electric Scooter Licenses Be Like Motorcycle Licenses?
Motorcycle licenses vary wildly among all states. It’s possible that in a few years that licenses for electric scooters will be equally as varied.
- Florida – 1st-time applicant for a motorcycle license who is under 21 must have taken and finished a motorcycle safety course.
- Illinois – If you’re under 18, you must complete a IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) certified motorcycle training course as well as passing the state’s motorcycle driver’s exam. There are also permits for motorcycle licenses that are very similar to driver’s permits for underage drivers.
- Kansas – Must acquire a class M license
- Virginia – Must pass a written exam as well as a road test, although there are special considerations given to military members and their families.
- Wisconsin – Permits are available but have multiple restrictions. To get an actual license you have to pass a written examination and a road test.
There are some states that have different classes of motorcycle licenses based on the type of motorcycle that is being ridden. This is likely the way that some states will handle deciding who needs or doesn’t need an electric scooter.
I think it will likely be based on the wattage of the electric motor more than anything else. Scooters that are over 750 watts of power are certainly in a different class than one with 100 watts and should be treated as such.
How To Not Get A Ticket On An Electric Scooter
What if your local community has no rules or regulations concerning electric scooters, but you’re still worried that you might get cited by the local authorities if you ride your scooter in public?
There are some basic considerations that every scooter rider should follow when riding their electric scooter in public.
- Obey all local traffic laws. This includes stopping at stop signs, keeping within the posted speed limits (scooters that are capable of going over 15 mph will have a digital speed reading on the handlebar that can be monitored easily).
- If you want to ride in bike lanes, then you need to behave like a (good) bike rider. Use appropriate arm signals when turning or, even better, attach some turn signals onto the back of your scooter. Some scooters will come with these signals already, but you may just need to install some yourself.
- Wear a helmet. Looking like a responsible, safe rider will help you look more respectable and law-abiding in the eyes of the law.
- Above all, just be courteous and follow traffic laws like you would in a car or a bike. Don’t give anyone a reason to cite you.
It’s highly unlikely that you need a license in your community unless you want to take your higher-end electric scooter out on public roads. Contact your local authorities or local DMV for specific instructions concerning your area.
**None of the information in this article is intended to provide legal advice of any kind.