You'll need to learn about your local motor scooter laws when you buy your scooter. It's important to do your homework on motorized scooter laws and motor scooter license regulations if you want to avoid problems.
If you've gotten to the point where you're researching this topic, then being a bona fide scooter owner and driver is almost a reality! And that's exciting, isn't it?
There are two components of scooter laws to consider and what you have to do is going to depend on your local motor scooter laws, but in most areas, you'll need both a motor scooter license (driver's), as well as a scooter registration and scooter license plate.
The best way to find out what's what in your area is to find your state's official website that covers driver regulations. In my state (and also in NJ where I used to live), that agency was called the Division of Motor Vehicles. But some states call it something different... or they've separated oversight for drivers vs. vehicles.
It's important to know how it works where you live. If you already drive a car, you should have some idea where to start your research. At that site, you should be able to get answers to what scooter laws apply. It's important to know the law because it can definitely affect your buying decisions!
However, because I realize that deciphering those regs can be a bit daunting at times, I've also decided to offer short overviews of the local state scooter laws here on the site... at least to the extent that I can easily get that information.
NOTE: My site right now is mostly slanted to my US readers, because scootering in the US is what I know best. But for my non-US readers, rest assured I will be researching motor scooter laws in the rest of the world too, and posting information as I learn it. Meanwhile, if you can point me in the right direction to learn more about the laws in your country, feel free to contact me!
I think I mentioned elsewhere on this site that in my state (Idaho) anything on 2 wheels with a motor that rides on the street must be licensed and registered. But in Connecticut and quite a few other states, I know that scooters with a 50cc or less engine size are not regulated.
So, where you live really can make a big difference in the hoops you'll need to jump through. What follows is a rundown of some of the laws and requirements you'll need to know about...
In most areas, to drive a scooter bigger than 50cc on the road, you'll need to get some kind of motor scooter drivers license, which is typically what is called a "motorcycle endorsement" added on to a regular driver's license.
The first step is usually to have a driver's license, and then to get your scooter/motorcycle learner's permit. In Idaho, all I had to do was study the motorcycle manual and then go to my DMV and take a written test. It was around 50 questions, I think.
One of the challenges I found was that the manual in Idaho is totally slanted to motorcycles... and motorcycles are quite different from scooters in several aspects, including the transmission and location of driver controls.
I've never driven a motorcycle and when I read the manual, I have to admit I didn't really pay close attention to some of the motorcycle-specific sections, such as shifting and clutch stuff. My scooter's automatic, so I thought it was stuff I really didn't need to know.
Unfortunately, my written exam asked a couple of questions about those issues and I missed one that I took a total guess at. So, my advice is study the entire manual... you never know what they'll ask.
A few people here have asked about how to get a scooter license only (motorcycle license only) if they don't have or need a car driver's license... or can't get one for some reason.
I have seen that some states allow this, but it is such a specialized instance, you're really going to have to ask about this one directly from your licensing authority.
Motor scooter laws govern motor scooter licenses for drivers, of course, which I covered above. They also govern how you operate your scooters in traffic.
One adjustment I've had to make is to keep reminding myself my scooter is a motor vehicle, not a bicycle. At first, I kept finding myself gravitating to riding in the bike lane or being able to just pull off at the curb for a second.
But you have to operate your scooter like a car, sort of, driving in the middle of your lane, obeying traffic signals and signs, etc. Might seem obvious to you, but I've had to battle my instincts and experience as a bike rider.
My advice on learning about motor scooter laws is to study your state's motorcycle/scooter driving manual carefully. There are likely to be nuances there that you need to know.
If you find as I did that your state requires you to register your new motor scooter, you'll need to find out the prices and how to go about it. (Many states don't require registration, licensing or insurance for scooters less than 50cc.)
In Idaho, I had to go to a different office than where I took my written licensing exam, although it was still the same governing authority, my DMV. But it was super easy & fast. All I did was pay my fee (around $30, I think) and they handed over my paper registration and little motor scooter license plate. Yee ha!
On the state scooter laws page I mentioned earlier, you'll not only find info on .
I've put together a page on state by state scooter licensing laws, where you can look up your individual state to get an overview of not only the motor scooter license requirements for each state, but also the motorized scooter laws that govern requirements for registering and insuring your scooter.
Each state has their own definition for the following terms, which governs the regs:
Moped is another term you'll see, though most states seem to lump that in with motorized bicycles.
So, start your homework on the state page for your state and find out what you need to know...
And, please remember: I'm not the last word on motor scooter laws... I'm just trying to jumpstart you!
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