Just a few months ago, I decided to order my first electric scooter to improve my mobility and commute easier. Once I got the scooter in my hand, I was elated to head out for my first commute. But shortly after my journey began, I heard the troubling sound of SIRENS!
I quickly shuffled over to the side of the road and waited with bated breaths for what was to come as I immediately realized that I forgot to check the laws for riding electric scooters. Surprisingly, they just drove by me, and I went about my business as usual. However, once I got home, I immediately made sure to do my research to see if I needed an electric scooter license.
I’ve found all the answers, and in this article, I’ll share everything you need to know, which should resolve all your concerns and give you direction.
My findings may not always be accurate and may defer based on your location. As such, be warned that this information should only be used for knowledge and does not represent legal advice. So while I’ve used my best efforts to cross-check data and the related laws for riding an electric scooter in the different countries and states, you must seek clarification from your local government on the laws regarding your use of a scooter.
But if you want the short answer to the question:
Do you need a license for an electric scooter?
The laws vary by country and change by state, but here are the answers I’ve found. We’ll later go into the rules in more detail.
Do you need a license to ride an Electric Scooter in the United States?
You are not required to have a license to operate an electric scooter in the US by law. However, some states have requirements that you and your scooter of choice must abide by for you to ride it legally.
Do you need to have a license to ride an Electric Scooter in the UK?
You will need a license to use an electric scooter on the road. Moreover, you must wear protective headgear and will also need to ensure that you’ve paid a vehicle tax before you can ride it on the road.
Do you need a license to ride an Electric Scooter in Australia?
You will need to have a license to ride an electric scooter on the road in Australia. And depending on the region, there are more rules that you will have to follow to ride your e-scooter on the road.
Before I expound on each area’s laws, you must first understand what it means for electric scooters to be “Street Legal” and what category e-scooters fall under.
Is an Electric Scooter classed as a Motor Vehicle, and when would you need a license?
For an electric scooter to be considered a motor vehicle depends on the power output and the max speed it can reach. In general, the speed and power will also determine if you need an electric scooter license or any license to operate the vehicle.
In the US, an electric scooter is considered the same as an electric bike. As such, the same rules are applied to both modes of transport in most cases. With that in mind, an e-bike or scooter is classified as street legal once it has a top speed of less than 20 MPH. Moreover, it has to be equipped with a motor with a power rating below 750W.
Surprisingly, electric scooters are allowed on the road without bike lanes as long as they don’t exceed 25 MPH. They must also be operated close to the curb on your right, except for moments you turn left. However, keep in mind that different states and locals have other laws that control how you should operate them. So always double-check with your state laws before riding an electric scooter.
Here’s what’s required for the major states you might be wondering about:
California Law for Electric Scooters
In California, electric scooters are recognized as long as they have a handlebar, deck to stand on, and motor powered. Electric scooters are not labeled as motor vehicles in California(at the time of publishing), so they will not require registration, insurance, or a license plate. However, the operator must be at least 16 years old and must be wearing a helmet that meets the required safety standards.
You can operate electric scooters on a trail, bike path, and even on the bikeway. But before you ride on these paths, you need to be aware that local officials might have control over these paths and may forbid the use of electric scooters on them. As such, before heading out, make sure you confirm that you are allowed to utilize those paths.
Also, you are not allowed to ride an e-scooter on sidewalks.
Florida Law for Electric Scooters
Florida has more clearly defined laws and guidelines on the classification of motor and motorized scooters, mopeds, motorized bicycles.
The law states that a motorized scooter is propelled by a combination of an electric helper motor and human power that moves the vehicle at speeds below 20 MPH on level ground.
A Moped is classified as any vehicle with pedals to permit propulsion by human power with a seat and not more than three wheels. Moreover, it should not have a motor that has more than two brake horsepower and should not be able to propel the vehicle more than 30 MPH on a flat
There has been a recent bill passed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that legalized electric scooter sharing in Florida. You can read more about it here: The House Bill 453
For more in-depth information for other states, you can check out this article.
Electric Scooters are considered a personal light electric vehicle and are treated as illegal for public roads. However, there have been recent changes in their acceptance of E-scooters that now allow persons to legally operate one as long as you are over 16 and have a provisional license or full license.
In Australia, the requirements are slightly different, with most territories requiring you to have a license. However, the type of license you need defer from place to place.
You require a car license in South Australia, northern territory, Western Australia, and Queensland. In Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales, you must have a motorcycle license to ride an electric scooter.
The Bottom Line
To be on the safe side, always operate your electric scooter with a full license. And always check with local authorities on what rules apply to your area. This way, you can ride safely without worrying or save yourself from being fined or arrested.