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Motorized Scooters: Which Ones Must Be Registered with the DMV?


According to Motor Vehicle Code 21224, small motorized scooters and mopeds do not have to be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Larger scooters, such as Hondas and Vespas, do have to registered and licensed with the state. With mopeds and scooters being so similar, and in such great use, there is much confusion over which has to be registered and which does not. So how do you know which type of scooter you own?

A good rule of thumb is to look at how the vehicle is made. If you have a scooter that resembles a child’s toy, then you do not have to register. These scooters have a platform to stand on, may or may not come with a seat, and usually travel at less than 20 mph. These are permitted on the roads, but you must be 16 and be wearing a helmet to operate them on public streets.

Mopeds and electric bicycles also do not have to be registered. If your scooter has pedals to start it, and resembles a large bicycle, then you do not need to register it. Usually mopeds are designed to travel at speeds less than 30 mph, which can also help you determine what type of scooter you own. You do have to get an M1 driver’s license for a moped if you plan to drive it on public property. You must also be 16 and wear a helmet at all times. A simple bicycle helmet is all that is required for mopeds and scooters.

Larger scooters, like Vespas, must be licensed and registered with the State DMV. These scooters have automatic transmissions and travel at speeds greater than 30 mph. They also do not have pedals and the driver’s feet usually rest on a platform in front of them while riding. All drivers must have either and M1 or M2 license to drive these, be at least 16 years old and wear a helmet. These scooters require all riders to have a motorcycle helmet, not a bicycle helmet. Passengers on all scooters, both large and small, must also wear a helmet under California law.

The distinction between the two types of scooters is very confusing, and a source of debate in many DMV offices and police forces. If you are involved in an accident with an unregistered scooter, your best recourse is to contact an attorney. If either you or your passenger suffered injuries as a result of the accident, the attorneys at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys are here to help. Our attorneys can help you recover damages for both yourself and your passenger. Your job is to concentrate on getting better, while your attorney’s job is to get you the compensation you deserve.

Please see complete listing of California Motor Vehicle Code.

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