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Anybody familiar with electric scooter/moped laws?

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

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
post #2 of 41
Thread Starter 

Also, does anyone have any theories as to why the license requirements would be different for mopeds and motorized scooters?  It seems to me like it should depend on the speed of the vehicle, not whether it's designed for the rider to stand up or sit down.  I don't see why that makes any difference at all.

post #3 of 41

I did some poking around the DMV site and from what I can tell, the iMoto does fit into the moped category and needs the M license. Also, you can't get it without doing an onsite skill test, so you'd have to have it with you. Is there anyway you can take it on a bus or anything? If not, I don't know what to tell you.

 

Also, on the distinction between standing up vs. sitting down - you're right. totally asinine. I'm bummed for you - keep us posted!

post #4 of 41
Thread Starter 

Yeah that's pretty much what I figured too.  I can't take the iMoto on the bus - it weighs 200 lbs.

 

I think my only 2 options are either to continue riding it and try to explain my way out of it if the patrolman is lying in wait for me (I think it's clear at this point that he's the only officer who cares/has nothing better to do than harass people on scooters), or rent/borrow a truck/van, somehow get my scooter into it, and bring it to the DMV for the skills test.  Of course this would be several weeks in the future, and in the meantime theoretically I couldn't ride the scooter.

 

I think I'll at least try the first option.  If he pulls me over again, I'll have to find some way to get the M2 license unless I can talk some sense into him.  My impression was that he won't give a darn what I have to say.  I'm hoping that I can find a slightly different route so that I can avoid the area where he was camped out yesterday, because I suspect he'll return there.  I do have the certificate of origin and manufacturer's ad claiming that the iMoto is a motorized scooter.

 

I also sent in the registration to the DMV a few weeks ago, and they might send me some license plates eventually, which might keep the cops off my back.  I also ordered a bicycle which should be arriving on Monday, so that will allow me to ride the scooter less often.

 

Riding a 20 mph electric scooter really shouldn't be this much of a pain in the a**.


Edited by dana1981 - Wed, 12 Mar 2008 22:40:48 UTC


Edited by dana1981 - Wed, 12 Mar 2008 22:42:39 UTC


Edited by stins - Wed, 20 Aug 2008 17:23:04 GMT
post #5 of 41

Just got this from someone who sells the iMoto:

 

 

Hi Dan,

 

We had that same question today about our eGo. From what I understand if it has 2.5 HP or under and does not go more than 25 mph you only need a California Drivers License. I just verified with Hon at iMoto. I am also trying where on the California Department of Transportations web site it says this. I will forward it when I find it.

 

Take Care,

Darlene

 

Davis Electric Cars, Inc.

1605 2nd Street

Davis, CA 95616

(530) 757-2275

www.DavisElectricCars.com

info@DavisElectricCars.com

 

 

Story developing.....

post #6 of 41
Thread Starter 

Hmm I hope she can find it, because I can't.

post #7 of 41
Thread Starter 

Thinking about it further, I was initially only considering the Sacramento DMV, but I could get my scooter to the Davis DMV, and hopefully have enough juice left to take the skills test.  Plus reviewing the license requirements further, you just need to pass the written test in order to get a permit.  I don't know how long the permit lasts, but it has all the requirements I need (just no riding with passengers, on the freeway, or at night).

 

So I've got an appointment next Tuesday to take the written test, and assuming they don't ask too many questions about motorcycle clutches and such, I should get this problem settled at least for the time being.

post #8 of 41

For the M2 license you can take a motorcycle saftey class, and at most of these classes you can rent or borrow a scooter. Once you pass that you can take your certificate to the DMV and you do not have to take the skills test. They have these classes almost every weekend.

post #9 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TaylorEGS:

For the M2 license you can take a motorcycle saftey class, and at most of these classes you can rent or borrow a scooter. Once you pass that you can take your certificate to the DMV and you do not have to take the skills test. They have these classes almost every weekend.


Yeah I was considering that, but a brief search didn't yield any info about the price, locations, or length of the classes.  I think I can manage to get my scooter to the Davis DMV to get the full class M license, and it would probably be simpler than taking this class, but thanks for the tip.

post #10 of 41
Thread Starter 

Just as an update, I took the day off today to go to the DMV, passed the written motorcycle test, and got my permit.  Now I can ride my scooter (or a big honkin' Harley) legally for the next year, except at night.  I'll probably take the skills test before winter when it starts to get dark early.

 

So anyway, now we know unless your scooter can only go 20 mph and has pedals or is designed for standing up, you need an M2 class license in CA.  I think the Davis Electric Cars people were looking at the laws for scooters with pedals.

 

I also got and put together my new bike, and it's really nice outside, so I'm gonna go for a ride!

post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dana1981:

Just as an update, I took the day off today to go to the DMV, passed the written motorcycle test, and got my permit.  Now I can ride my scooter (or a big honkin' Harley) legally for the next year, except at night.  I'll probably take the skills test before winter when it starts to get dark early.

 

So anyway, now we know unless your scooter can only go 20 mph and has pedals or is designed for standing up, you need an M2 class license in CA.  I think the Davis Electric Cars people were looking at the laws for scooters with pedals.

 

I also got and put together my new bike, and it's really nice outside, so I'm gonna go for a ride!

 

Congrats!  Now you don't have to worry about that (extraordinarily bored) police officer.

post #12 of 41
Thread Starter 

Thanks.  Yeah, he hasn't been back since that first time.  Maybe he's actually been patrolling the highways (a novel concept for a highway patrolman).  It's been pretty stressful watching out for him every time I pass by that same spot though, so I'm glad I can go back to riding my scooter carefree.


Edited by dana1981 - Tue, 18 Mar 2008 22:25:43 GMT
post #13 of 41
Thread Starter 

I also got my registration and license plate in the mail yesterday (it took the DMV about 3-4 weeks), so now I'm all set.

post #14 of 41
Thread Starter 

I got a nice surprise on Saturday.  It turns out that although he didn't tell me at the time, the highway patrolman gave me a ticket for not having a motocycle license or registration.  So I got a $235 ticket in the mail on Saturday.  There was much profanity, let me tell you.  And I can't cotest it, because technically he's right.  What a @%@#%!.

post #15 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dana1981:

I got a nice surprise on Saturday.  It turns out that although he didn't tell me at the time, the highway patrolman gave me a ticket for not having a motocycle license or registration.  So I got a $235 ticket in the mail on Saturday.  There was much profanity, let me tell you.  And I can't cotest it, because technically he's right.  What a @%@#%!.

 

That's ridiculous!  That's why no one likes cops.  Definitely puts my $30 parking ticket (I forgot about the once a month street cleaning outside the Huddler office) to shame...

post #16 of 41
Thread Starter 

Yeah it's friggin' dumb.  I might try to contest it just to see if I can at least get the fine reduced.  I think it would put a point on my driving record too.  We'll see, it might be worth contesting after all.

post #17 of 41

I have a print out that everyone here in Ohio prints out.  I handed it to an officer and he said, well I don't care.  I told him my attorney would so make sure he was right.  He gave me the ticket....I handed it to my Atty.  The case was thrown out of court.

http://www.ebikes-and-scooters.com

post #18 of 41

I have an ego scooter.  Does anyone know the laws for Illinois and Indiana?

post #19 of 41
Thread Starter 
post #20 of 41

what's with http://www.ebikes-and-scooters.com

two dot certified mopeds

no pedals?

this means no motorizedpedal

no moped

grrr - I wish people, specifically those who SHOULD know better, would put out correct info.

MOPED MEANS IT IS PEDAL ASSISTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HELLLO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

post #21 of 41

Hey - their "motor scooter" info is WAY off as well

they are SO confused.

motor scooter wouldn't be modeled after the kids toy - as the kids toy didn't even exist when the term came to popularity.

THINK AUTOMATIC

Idiots!!

 

this  ebikes site is inspiring anarchy of terms.

WE DON'T NEED CHINEESE MANGLING OUR (AND EUROPE'S) TERMS  THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!


Edited by iunno - Sun, 18 Jan 2009 00:30:05 GMT


Edited by iunno - Mon, 26 Jan 2009 18:57:10 GMT
post #22 of 41
Thread Starter 

Mopeds don't necessarily have pedals anymore.  The term has more to do with the top speed of the vehicle than whether it has pedals.  Generally a moped is just a two-wheeled vehicle that goes slower than a motorcycle (i.e. not highway speeds) but faster than a scooter (i.e. 20 mph).

post #23 of 41

That's why I'm saying china is destroying the lingo.

Moped MEANS PEDALS

That's the very definition

a slow scooter is just a slow scooter

ie a 20mph or less scooter is a 20mph or less SCOOTER

NOT A MOPED

post #24 of 41
Thread Starter 

It has nothing to do with China.  That's how we've defined "moped" in the United States for decades.   What would you call a two-wheeled vehicle that goes 50 mph and has no pedals?  It's not a scooter - it's too fast.  But it's not a motorcycle either.  It's a moped by the American definition.

post #25 of 41

Thats interesting Dana, I can't believe you got a ticket!  Our law is a little behind the times I guess because there is no speed restriction, just as long as it has smaller than 50cc and doesn't go on the interstate.  Luckily most people here go and get their motrocycle endorsement anyways so they know what they're doing but I see tons of little mopeds/scooters without plates here, including mine.  But I did get insurance, and boy was that a pain!  Apparently something is wrong with the record of VINs on the RMartins, the insurance companies keep claiming that the VIN is wrong or that it doesn't exist, took quite a while to get that one worked out!

I guess with the increase of these things on the street they feel like they need to start keeping track of everyone (and making money off of them!) :)

post #26 of 41
Thread Starter 

Yeah I think somebody - probably the local security personnel (darn rent-a-cops!) tipped of the police that there were people riding scooters around with no plates (there was one other guy at the time who had a gas motorized scooter), because the officer was just camped out in the perfect spot to stop me and there was no other reason for him to be sitting there.  Needless to say I was pretty peeved about it.

post #27 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dana1981:

   What would you call a two-wheeled vehicle that goes 50 mph and has no pedals?  It's not a scooter - it's too fast.  But it's not a motorcycle either.  It's a moped by the American definition.

My City-el will go 50 mph breifly, but it is registered a motorcycle, and is still illegal on the freeway (but it has 3 wheels).  Make it a 2-wheeler; I would call it insane  ;-)

post #28 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by dana1981:

It has nothing to do with China.  That's how we've defined "moped" in the United States for decades.   What would you call a two-wheeled vehicle that goes 50 mph and has no pedals?  It's not a scooter - it's too fast.  But it's not a motorcycle either.  It's a moped by the American definition.


 

I think it's difficult to call it "the American definition". In Delaware, a moped has to be less than 55cc and no more than 2.7 HP. They must be registered and a moped license plate displayed. (I just did this at our DMV this month). Each state has different rules. The Delaware site actually tells you a few differences between nieghboring states.

http://regulations.delaware.gov/AdminCode/title2/2000/2200/Vehicle/2259.shtml

 

 

post #29 of 41

The instruction permit in California lasts a year before it expires. That's not bad, all things considered. You can always get the permit again at the end of your year, which would cost you an additional $28, I think, to take the written motorcycle test again. Don't quote me on that though but it's in that general range. You can probably get away with driving the scooter around without a proper M1 or M2 license as long as you have the plates and right stickers for it AND if you are wearing the right apparel (helmet) plus following all the road/traffic laws. OR, if you'd prefer, you can glue a pair of pedals to your scooter to make it look like an electric bike.

 

Most cops in Southern California don't seem to give a damn unless you do something that is terribly obvious to them and that would require them to "do their job." I can't speak for NoCal though so if you live there, you might have to be extra careful.


Edited by tallius - Tue, 10 Feb 2009 01:48:41 GMT
post #30 of 41
Thread Starter 

Yeah if I don't pass the skills test next time around I'll have to retake the written test again.  $28 is about right.  You could drive around with no drivers' license too.  It's just a really bad idea ;-)

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