Perhaps you’re interested in buying an electric scooter for your kid so they can ride around and have some fun but you’re not sure if they’ll need a license to operate such a small and fun looking toy vehicle. Or maybe you want to ride one yourself and you’re trying to find out as much information as possible before riding out on the streets?
Depending on what state you’re residing in will determine everything when it comes to the legality of what you can and can’t do when riding on an e-scooter. Having a driver’s license is required in certain states, like California, but in other states, you don’t need a license nor do you need to wear a helmet. It’s important to follow all your state’s laws as required to avoid any unnecessary fees that you might have to pay.
You might not think that you have to be 18 years or older to ride a scooter, but a lot of companies that offer pay and go e-scooters require users to confirm they’re at least 18 years of age before riding them. Some of the companies also require users to upload a picture of their driver’s license and scan the QR code on the back of it with their phone as well.
These age regulations that app-based companies follow are going to be a lot stricter than most of any other state when it comes to how old you have to be to ride an e-scooter. The minimum age limit to ride an e-scooter is at least 16 years old in all states except Ohio, where you have to be 18 to ride a class III motorized bike.
If you’d rather buy an e-scooter for yourself or someone else then there are still age rules that must be followed. Although the laws aren’t as strict as some of the app-based scooter companies like Lime and Bird, in certain states they still have an age limit.
Most notably, California requires riders to be at least 16 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, wear a bicycle helmet, not have any passengers riding with you, and also follow all the other laws of the road that cars do. It’s important to always look at the age regulations of your state before assuming that you can legally ride on an electric scooter.
Laws & Regulations
There are a lot of different laws and regulations when it comes to the e-scooter world. Ranging anywhere from no age limits to as high as 16 years of age, each state regulates e-scooters differently. Each state has it’s own rules and regulations when it comes to what they classify an e-scooter as and the limits they put on them.
A state like Arizona classifies them as a motorized electric bicycle (or tricycle), they have a max speed limit of 20 mph (32 km/h) and limit the size of the engine to 48cc, you don’t need a helmet or a driver’s license and you can ride them at any age.
Other states like Hawaii classify them as a moped, limit the max speed to 30 mph (50 km/h), limit the power to 2hp (horsepower), a helmet isn’t required and you must be at least 15 years of age with a valid driver’s license and/or permit. One state, Idaho, actually requires you to get liability insurance to legally ride around.
With so many different types of regulatory obligations that states demand from riders, it makes it hard to keep up with at times. Your kid probably just wants to ride around and hang out with their friends.
For police to enforce these laws on you they have to catch you doing something illegal. The most common way to get stopped and ticketed is to be riding without a helmet in a state where it’s illegal. If you’re riding by a cop and they see you not wearing a helmet, you’re basically inviting law enforcement to stop you and have a talk with you.
What’s Needed Legally
United States – Are e-scooters legal to ride in the United States without a license? Well, that greatly depends on where you live. In most states, e-scooters don’t qualify as a motorized vehicle and you’re free to ride around without repercussion, as long as you’re following the state and city laws (keep in mind some College University campuses may have their own separate rules and regulations that must be obeyed). You’ll need to find out from your state what you may and may not do, as well as what’s needed for riding around. If you check out your state laws make sure you’re also following city laws. Give the police a call and ask them if any city laws supersede state laws.
Canada – The rules in Canada are going to vary by province. British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario don’t recognize e-scooters as motorized vehicles by their current laws. That means that you’re only able to legally ride around them on private land and/or sometimes on pavements.
United Kingdom – Riding an e-scooter in the UK is illegal unless your scooter complies with the European EAPC (Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles) rules. Basically, you’ll be able to ride around on an e-scooter anywhere in Europe except for the UK.
Ireland – Ireland requires all mechanically propelled vehicles (which is what they classify e-scooters as) to have insurance, pay road tax, and have a valid driver’s license. The confusing part about it is that they currently don’t have any way to ensure e-scooters, nor do they have a way you can pay taxes on it.
Germany – Germany has recently made it legal to ride e-scooters on public roads. The rider must be above 14 years of age, use a helmet, and can’t go over 20 km/h (12.4 mph).
Belgium – It is legal to ride e-scooters in Belgium on public roads as long as you ride along roads where the speed limit is 25 km/h (15.5 mph) or less. You don’t need to wear any protective gear and you don’t have to have insurance. The minimum riding age is 15 for e-scooters.
Poland – Currently e-scooters fall under the same category as a moped. These vehicles are not allowed to ride on the sidewalks or the bike lane. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to register an e-scooter as a road vehicle making it illegal to ride on the roads. They are currently working on legislatures to change the laws to make this more accommodating for people looking to ride e-scooters.
Japan – If an e-scooter can go over 9 km/h / 5.6 mph (which basically all of them can), then you will be required to have a license, registration, and use turn signals, and pretty much anything else that’s needed for a moped or motorbike.
India – You can legally ride e-scooters without license, registration, or insurance. E-scooters aren’t permitted to have motors above 250W and they’re not allowed to go above 25 km/h (15.5 mph).
Singapore – You must register your e-scooter with the Land Transport Authority and have your license plate number affixed to your scooter. They also limit the max speed to 25 km/h (15.5 mph) as well as limit the size of the scooter to 70 cm (27.5 in) in width and cannot weigh more than 20 kg (44 lbs).
Korea – Driver’s license is required as well as wearing a helmet. Riding on sidewalks and alleys is recommended and e-scooters should only be ridden in the streets from the times of 7 am to 8 pm (7-20h).
SE Asia – The laws here are pretty confusing. Depending on where you are in SE Asia and who pulls you over will depend on if you could get in trouble or not. In Vietnam and Cambodia, you need a license to be 100% perfectly legal. If you’re traveling around in Laos they could ask you for a license or possibly your passport. You should always wear a helmet, as not wearing one is definitely a reason to get pulled over.
The age limit set on e-scooters is there whether we like it or not. The rules may not always be obeyed due to kids and teenagers wanting to ride around to hang out with their friends. But is that so bad? We have to take into consideration that laws will be broken regardless of the punishments that are in place.
If a kid or teen doesn’t see anything wrong with it and they think it’s a harmless crime, then they’ll continue to ride on e-scooters without helmets or driver’s licenses. Unfortunately, if they get caught they risk being fined anywhere from $200 – $500, ouch!
If you’re a fan of e-scooters or you’re not, e-scooters are here to stay. They’re becoming more and more popular and the market for them is dramatically increasing. They offer a solution to a lot of the commuting problems that the world experiences and of course with that will come problems of its own. We have to adapt to change as change occurs and setting an age limit and requiring a driver’s license isn’t going to deter anyone from riding an e-scooter that really wants to.
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