Scooters, Mopeds, Etc... in Hawaii
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If you had never been to the islands, you might think that the environment is ideal for two-wheeled travel on the likes of a moped or scooter. After all, gas prices in Hawaii sometimes feel more like filling up the tank in Europe rather than the U.S.
However, like many other states on the mainland, Hawaii is pretty car crazy, which means mopeds and scooters are not an everyday sight.
Hipster scooters are, however, making a comeback and many commuters elsewhere are finding them ultra handy. But regardless of whether you opt for a motor scooter or moped, you will need to register the vehicle with the county.
Mopeds have a two-stroke engine that propels the vehicle to speeds of 30 mph, but they're not considered motor vehicles in Hawaii.
Although this may sound strange it can be an advantage for you because (1) the registration fee is cheaper ($15), (2) a helmet is not required, and (3) you do not have to purchase insurance to operate the moped on public roads.
Hawaii defines a motor scooter as a two-wheel vehicle with an engine under five horsepower. Thus, if it has a four-stroke engine it automatically falls into the scooter class. Of course, some scooters have more horsepower and still carry many scooter features. Hawaii puts these vehicles in the motorcycle category.
Thus, if you mod your Vespa too much, you might end up in a different category of vehicle. Not that this matters much. In Hawaii a motor scooter must go through the same registration process as a motorcycle.
Also, the laws for scooters and motorcycles are essentially the same. This means to ride a scooter in Hawaii you must obtain a motorcycle-class license, wear a helmet, and have the proper insurance.
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