Scooters, Mopeds, Etc... in California
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California legislature seeks help control pollution, so it has make the registration processes of other vehicles, such as scooters and mopeds, more appealing.
Keep in mind that the DMV definitions of these vehicles might be very different from what you consider to be a scooter or moped.
The California Motorcycle Driver Handbook describes a scooter as a motorized two-wheeled vehicle with a floorboard designed for standing while driving. The scooter may have a driver's seat, but if the seat interferes with the operator's ability to stand while driving the vehicle is not a scooter. A typical scooter also has the ability to be driven by human propulsion.
The California Vehicle Code does not require the driver of a motorized scooter to carry registration, have license plates on display, or carry liability insurance (although you might inquire with your insurance company about potential coverage).
Scooter navigators must be at least 16 years old, get properly licensed, wear a helmet, and know where he/she can legally drive the scooter.
Scooters may be driven on bike paths and trails, but never on sidewalks. They can also be used on roadways with bike lanes, as well as on streets with no bike lanes and speed limits of 25 mph or less. When on a road with no bike lane, scooters should be ridden as close to the right hand curb as possible (unless passing or turning right).
Refer to the section below on licensing requirements and how to obtain the proper scooter license.
All Vespas and other traditionally classified scooters must be registered, regardless of how many cc's. As of 2006 there is no longer a differentiation between above or below 50 cc's.
The California Motorcycle Driver Handbook describes two different types of motorized bicycles, or mopeds.
The first type is a two- or three-wheeled vehicle, not capable of more than 30 mph on level ground with:
- Fully functional pedals for human propulsion.
- An internal combustion engine producing less than two gross brake horsepower with automatic transmission.
- An electric motor with or without pedals.
This quicker kind of moped requires a Class M2 driver license and registration with the CA DMV. Furthermore, you will want to check with your insurance carrier on possible coverage for your moped. To register your moped simply submit a Motorized Bicycle Instruction/Application form (REG 230) by mail or at you local DMV.
The second type of moped has an electric motor of less than 1,000 watts and cannot go above 20 mph on level ground (even if assisted by human power). The motor must also stop when the brakes are applied or starter switch released.
This "20 mph" classification of a moped may be driven without a license, proof of financial responsibility, or a moped license plate. The driver need only be 16 years old and wearing a properly fitting bicycle helmet.
You can't ride your moped on freeways or any type of bike path or trail, unless local law has given permission. You can drive your moped in lanes designated for bicycles, but be considerate of other bikers.
The moped with the 20 mph cap can be driven without a license, but the driver must be at least 16 years old.
You will need to obtain a Class M2 license if you choose to go the way of the scooter or the moped with a maximum speed limit of 30 mph.
To secure your Class M2 license simply:
- Submit an original DL 44 application form.
- Provide a thumb print.
- Have your picture taken at the DMV.
- Pay the $32 application fee.
- Pass a vision exam.
- Pass the traffic laws and signs test.
- If you are under 21, complete the California Highway Patrol (CHP) motorcycle training course and present the Certificate of Motorcycle Training (DL 389) to the DMV. You won't have to take the motorcycle driving test if you already have a current California driver license.
- If you are over 21, choose between taking the CHP course and submitting the certificate of completion, or scheduling an appointment to take the driving test.
For additional information on the motorcycle classes offered by the California Highway Patrol call (877) 743-3411 or visit the California Motorcyclist Safety Program.
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