Do We Need a Driving License to Ride Electric Scooter?

You’ve seen them all over the streets of your city, and everyone who rides one looks absolutely thrilled. So why haven’t you got yourself a foldable electric scooter yet? Maybe you are worried about whether you need a driving license for e-scooters or a special license like for motorbikes? Maybe you don’t have a driving license. Can you still drive an electric scooter, jointly or not?

As with most questions of this kind, the answer is “it depends”, but in many cases, it is “yes”! This is one of the particular advantages of micro-mobility as a mode of transport, especially in terms of cities seeking to provide equitable transport for all and optimize the movement of people through our world, rather than cars.

Do It Yourself

Whether or not you need a driver’s license depends primarily on where you will be riding your scooter. Each state in the US and many countries and regions around the world have found its own way to define the legal parameters for electric scooters, a form of transportation that did not exist as a viable option a few years ago. While e-scooter laws are becoming more uniform across the US, there are still a number of differences between states.

First, we need to define what we mean by a motorized electric scooter. The term can mean a number of things, from foldable scooters like Mankeel Silver Wings to two-wheeled, sit-down scooters that are more like mopeds and have more powerful motors and larger batteries. For the purposes of California law, a “motorized scooter” is defined as “any two-wheeled device with handlebars and a running board that can be stood on while riding and that is powered by an electric motor”. Other small motorized vehicles are classified as motorbikes, mopeds, or motorized bicycles, depending on their design, weight, and engine size.

U.S. Laws

In the state of California, it is currently required by law that electric scooter riders have a valid driver’s license and that the scooters cannot exceed a speed of 15 mph. California has gone into detail on electric scooter laws in a way that most states have not. The question of whether you need a license in other places generally depends on how your state classifies electric scooters, and that can vary widely.

Broadly speaking, the answer is no, you do not need a driver’s license to ride an electric scooter in the US.

In many states, electric scooters are considered the same as electric bicycles, and no driver’s license is required to operate them. In some municipalities, scooters are equated with mopeds and other street-legal vehicles, which require a valid driver’s license to operate. To be on the safe side, rideshare companies like Bird and Lime usually require their drivers to be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license, but these are company policies, not state or federal laws.

In the state of California, it is currently required by law that electric scooter riders have a valid driver’s license and that the scooters cannot exceed a speed of 15 mph. California has gone into detail on electric scooter laws in a way that most states have not. The question of whether you need a license in other places generally depends on how your state classifies electric scooters, and that can vary widely.

In New York State, electric scooters may be ridden on roads and bike paths if they have a maximum speed of no more than 20 mph. Scooters are classified as Class C vehicles, and riders are not required to have a license to drive them. The law makes e-scooters a particularly convenient choice for New Yorkers, many of whom don’t drive and have no reason to get a license.

Outside of California, US states generally do not require a driver’s license to operate an electric scooter, but as with all legal issues of this kind, it is advisable to check the laws in your state and city before buying or leasing an electric scooter.

International Scooter Laws

Elsewhere in the world, laws can also be very different.

The UK has just started trialing electric scooters on urban roads. Riders can rent shared scooters but are not yet allowed to ride private scooters on public roads. Electric scooters are classified as motor vehicles, so all riders must have a valid driver’s license and be at least 16 years old to drive them.

Laws in Australia vary by state and territory. In both Queensland and Victoria, you need a license to drive an electric scooter.

Scooter laws in Japan are strict: in addition to license plates, insurance and registration, scooter riders must also have a valid motorbike license.

Scooter laws in Canada vary by province, state and city. In most provinces, you can ride an electric scooter without a license, although a minimum age is required, but some places require a license.

Conclusion

The laws for driving electric scooters are constantly evolving. At least in the US (with the exception of California), the answer to the question “Do you need a driver’s license to ride an electric scooter?” is “No, you don’t.” But that answer may depend on how each state and municipality defines an electric scooter, and it may change from one legislative session to the next. To be on the safe side, always check local laws to be sure.

The positive news for prospective and existing Unagi riders is that in the first three years of the meteoric rise of foldable electric scooters in the world, regulators seem to have moved to regulate small forms of micro-mobility (like scooters) differently than larger vehicles like mopeds and motorbikes. Governments are excited about how they will help achieve transport equity goals (as many people cannot afford cars, petrol, parking and car insurance) and drastically reduce the carbon footprint with human-sized, electric-powered vehicles. They are also easier to operate and simply fun to drive.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.