Getting Licensed to Ride a Scooter or Moped

By: Staff Writer June 19, 2012
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The size of your scooter's engine dictates the type of license to pursue or, in some cases, not to pursue.

Most states use the following criteria regarding engine size:

  • 50cc or Smaller: Some states require a regular drivers license or learners permit; others don't require any licensing, mandating only that you be a certain age.
  • Larger than 50cc: Requires a regular drivers license with a motorcycle endorsement.

Before pursuing a particular license, check your state's requirements. Keep in mind that many states use other names for scooters and mopeds such as motorized bikes or bicycles, low-speed motorcycles, and even motorcycles.

NOTE: Dealership owners are well educated on local scooter licensing laws, so if you're buying a scooter or moped you can ask the salesman about licensing requirements before you leave the lot.

Obtain a License for a Scooter, Bike, or Moped

Understand that each DMV governs differently when it comes to scooters and mopeds. So, depending on your state, you may need to meet all some or none of the following scooter licensing requirements:

  • Must be a certain age. Many states require an operator to be at least 16.
  • Obtain or have a driver's license or permit, if applicable. Rhode Island, for instance, does not require licensing, provided the bike's engine does not exceed 50cc, whereas Massachusetts riders must be at least 16 and carry either a learners permit or a drivers license. Only riders with full drivers licenses may operate scooters in Wisconsin
  • Obtain a motorcycle license (or endorsement) if the bike's engine exceeds 50cc. This is universal with all states.

Before riding, also educate yourself on possible related laws on helmets, registration, insurance, and road accessibility.

Have we missed anything? Share your bike expertise with our online community by leaving a comment below.

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