This page is about California scooter laws and the California motorcycle endorsement regulations you need to know.
Each state is different, so don't assume that because Connecticut doesn't require licensing of scooters 50cc and smaller, that California doesn't either. This page will give you a brief introduction and overview of the motor scooter laws for California. Then, at the end of the page, you'll find a link for more detailed information on the California scooter laws.
In terms of the motorcycle endorsement I mentioned above, what that means is that in addition to a driver's license (which is almost always going to be a prerequisite to getting a motor scooter license), you get an add-on endorsement to that license that allows you to drive a motorcycle or other 2-wheeled motorized vehicle like a gas scooter.
So, for instance, I got my motorcycle endorsement in Idaho by driving a 125cc scooter. But I could now go out and buy a big-a** Harley Davidson and ride that too if I wanted. (Not that I could handle a Harley with my little short legs and diminutive frame... but still, you know what I mean, right?)
First, it's important to understand the definitions in California for the following terms. But I have to say that upon reading the California publications, I'm not entirely sure which of these actually applies to the kind of scooters we all drive. Although this is the first state I've found that actually defines something called a scooter, their definition doesn't seem to fit a typical gas scooter. So, if any of my many California readers can help illuminate me, please use my contact page to email me the facts, please.
Motorcycle: Has a seat or saddle for the rider and is designed to travel on not more than three wheels.
Motor-driven cycle: A motorcycle with a 149 cc or less engine size.
Motorized bicycle: A two- or three-wheeled device, capable of no more than 30 mph on level ground, and equipped with: fully operative pedals for human propulsion, a motor producing less than two gross brake horsepower and an automatic transmission, and an electric motor, with or without pedals for human propulsion... OR... A vehicle with pedals and an electric motor (not more than 1,000 watts) which cannot be driven at speeds of more than 20 mph on level ground even if assisted by human power.
Motorized scooter: any two-wheeled "device" with a motor, handlebars, and a floorboard for standing on when riding, and the options of having: a driver seat which cannot interfere with the operator's ability to stand and ride, and the ability to be powered by human propulsion.
To my thinking, a gas scooter of 149cc or less engine size fits into California's "motor-driven cycle" category, while all larger scooters would fit into the "motorcyle" category. At any rate, it looks like all sizes require a motorcycle endorsement, unlike many states that exempt 49cc and smaller scooters.
Is a scooter driver's license required? Yes
Is there a limitation as to size of scooter and license? No, it appears that ALL scooter drivers must have a drivers' license with a motorcycle endorsement.
If a license is required, how do you get it? Do you need to take a written test? What about a skills test? Both a knowledge test (classroom) and an on-cycle skills test are required. Both can be done at your local DMV office. The skills test may be on the road or in a controlled off-street area, at their discretion.
Is there any requirement for a skills class? Although a Motorcycle Safety Foundation skills class is highly recommended for everyone, only people under the age of 21 MUST pass a class before they can get their motorcycle license.
Does the scooter have to be registered? Yes, I'm almost certain it does.
Is scooter insurance required? I believe so.
Is there a yearly inspection regulation? I'm really not sure... HELP, California readers!
Anything else you should know? Teens must be 15.5 to get a motorcycle permit and 16 to earn a license. They must also have had drivers education training in addition to the motorcycle skills training and their parent's permission to get the license.
For more information on California scooter laws and the motor scooter license regulations, visit:
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