I've been commuting to work on my iMoto scooter for about 5 months now. Yesterday for the first time I got pulled over, by a highway patrolman. He claimed that in California to ride a moped you need to have a license plate and M1/M2 class license, hassled me for a while, then made me sign a paper saying I wouldn't ride it again until I got an M class license.
The laws in California are very tricky. For a moped, unless it has a top speed of 20 mph or less and pedals (mine does have a 20 mph top speed, but no pedals), you need to have the class M license and license plate. However, if you have a "motorized scooter", you don't need any sort of license or registration, etc.
"A 'motorized scooter' is any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, has a floorboard that is designed to be stood upon when riding, and is powered by an electric motor. This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion."
So this is tricky because I don't think my scooter's floorboard is "designed to be stood upon when riding", but otherwise fits the description (and I can stand while riding, it's just rather awkward). So technically I think it fits the moped description better. However, on the certificate of origin, the body design is listed as "electric scooter", and the ads made by the manufacturer claim that it fits the motorized scooter definition.
I would go ahead and get the M2 license, except you need to pass a skills test to do it, and I can't get my scooter to the DMV because
a) I can only ride on bike lanes and residential streets due to the 20 mph top speed
b) It only has a 15 mile range
and there are no DMV offices nearby.
Because I can only ride where a bicycle can go, it seems to me that by the intent of the law I shouldn't need the M2, but by the letter of the law technically I probably do, but I can't really physically get one. So it's a bit of a bind.
I've passed dozens of police before, and even was pulled over by one for running a stop sign once, and none have cared that I have no plates and just a C class license. Unfortunately I'm a bit worried that this same highway patrolman will spot me again, because he was camped out at the one exit from my business park which I'm not sure I can bypass.
My current thinking is that if he does stop me again, I can try to convince him that the iMoto is classified as a motorized scooter, but I don't think he'll buy it. Anyone familiar with the California laws, or have any other useful advice?
Edited by dana1981 - Wed, 12 Mar 2008 17:22:00 UTC