Electric scooters are the newest transportation trend that might never leave! They provide a practical, ecological, and economical means of transportation for commuters and pleasure seekers.
However, the electric micro-mobility phenomenon also spurred a flood of complaints from pedestrians and metropolitan. So, after law enforcement evaluated the social implications, are electric scooters street legal?
Electric scooters are street legal, except in Pennsylvania and Delaware. In addition, electric scooters aren’t allowed on highways and high-speed roads (limit over 35 mph). Each state has different laws regarding sidewalks, minimum age, max speed, helmets and registration, license, and insurance.
While electric scooters are taking over the United States, it’s imperative to know (and follow) the strict laws of your state before hopping on and heading to the streets.
So, here’s a guide that will shed some light on whether electric scooters are legal and the federal legislation attached to them.
Are Electric Scooters Street Legal?
Electric scooters are street-legal in most states.
Only two states ban electric scooters entirely on the streets: Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Electric scooters are street legal
Although legal in most US states, the laws regarding where and how you’re allowed to ride electric scooters differ between states.
Electric scooters have caused explosive growth in micro-mobility, providing an array of transportation benefits. They are convenient, environmentally friendly (low-carbon), cheap, and efficient.
However, with the array of benefits comes counteractive effects – traffic obstruction, sidewalk congestion, potential accidents, and health concerns. The drawbacks have brought micro-mobility to the forefront of United States lawmakers’ attention.
Today, several laws and restrictions exist around electric scooters which aim to protect riders and the community. Some states have stricter laws than others.
Current Electric Scooter Laws
Electric scooters aren’t allowed on highways and high-speed streets (streets with a speed limit over 35 mph).
However, some states limit electric scooters to even lower speed roads (see below).
Current Electric Scooter Laws
Riders need to follow general driving and traffic rules – driving on the right side of the road, yielding to pedestrians, and observing traffic signals.
Electric Scooter Minimum Age Requirements
In most states, the minimum age requirement to ride electric scooters is 16.
These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia (Arlington).
However, several states are more liberal.
- Utah – 15 years old
- Virginia & Mississippi – 14 years old
- Minnesota & Michigan – 12 years old
Are Electric Scooters Permitted On The Sidewalk?
Riding electric scooters on the sidewalk is only officially banned in 10 states. However, it is frowned upon in most urban areas.
Riding electric scooters on sidewalks
It is not surprising that some states have banned riding electric scooters on sidewalks.
The speeds are dangerous on sidewalks where there are plenty of pedestrians, bicyclists, and obstructions on the sidewalk that can cause accidents.
The specific laws for riding electric scooters on sidewalks are slightly complicated, as several states fail to mention sidewalk use in their regulations.
So, we recommend verifying the legality with your local Department of Motor Vehicles before riding your electric scooter on the sidewalk.
It is against the law to ride an electric scooter on sidewalks in the following ten states:
- New York
- North Dakota
You can legally ride electric scooters on sidewalks in states: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
What Is The Maximum Speed For Riding Electric Scooters?
Most US states have a 20-mph speed limit for electric scooters.
Maximum Speed For Riding Electric Scooters
Some states allow traveling up to 30 mph on electric scooters, while others limit the speed to 10 to 15 mph.
Here’s an overview of the maximum speed limits per state.
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington (10 mph), Wyoming
Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey (19 mph), New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan (45 mph), Missouri (45 mph), North Carolina (15 mph in downtown destinations), North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas (35 mph)
Helmet Requirements for Electric Scooters
Most states require that minors under 18 years old wear a helmet.
However, other states have extended the law to wear helmets for all ages.
Helmet Requirements for Electric Scooters
- Massachusetts requires all ages to wear a helmet
- Michigan requires riders 19 and younger to wear a helmet
- Louisiana requires riders 17 and younger to wear a helmet
- Alabama, Connecticut, and Delaware require riders 16 and younger to wear a helmet
- California, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, and Oklahoma require riders 18 and younger to wear a helmet
Even if you aren’t legally obligated to wear a helmet when riding an electric scooter, it is highly recommended for your safety. An accident can cause severe head trauma irrespective of your travel speed.
Registration Requirements for Electric Scooters
Most states require DMV registration for motorcycles and mopeds.
However, electric scooters are subject to each state. Fewer restrictions exist as they are easier to use than motor vehicles.
North Carolina is the only state that requires DMV registration.
License Requirements for Electric Scooters
In nine states, electric scooter riders must have a valid driver or M license.
However, we doubt that driver’s licenses will become the new norm as micro-mobility gives affordable transportation access to those who cannot afford motor vehicles.
The following states require a license to ride an electric scooter:
- Alabama: M License
- Alaska: 14 to 15 years olds require an M2 Permit, and 16+ require an M1 or M3 Permit
- California: valid driver's license
- Illinois: people under 17 years require a license.
- Kansas: valid driver's license
- Maine: valid driver's license
- Massachusetts: valid driver's license
- North Carolina: DMV registration
- Rhode Island (Providence): valid driver's licenses
Insurance Requirements for Electric Scooters
In most states, local and federal transportation agencies don’t require electric scooter riders to carry insurance.
Illinois and Texas require riders to have electric scooter insurance if the motor surpasses 750 Watts.
There are no clear set laws for electric scooters. They are constantly updating, and your obligation is to verify the legality of electric scooters in your city.
Always follow your state and city’s regulations and enjoy the riding experience. Lastly, WEAR YOUR HELMET for safety regardless of the law regulations.