Californians love their motorized toys. Many of us have a two-wheeled vehicle of some kind that we use around our neighborhood. Before riding these vehicles, it is important to know the relevant operation regulations in order to avoid a ticket or injury down the road.
What types of laws govern riding mopeds and scooters? In the state of California there are three classifications of small, motorized two-wheeled vehicles. They include motor-driven cycles, mopeds, and motorized scooters.
In section 405, the California vehicle code defines a motor-driven cycle as a two wheeled vehicle with an engine size not larger than 149CC. To legally ride a motor-driven cycle on public roads, you must have a valid Class M1 motorcycle license and the vehicle must be registered with the DMV. Fortunately, you do not have to pay a registration fee.
Moped (Motorized Bicycle).
In California, a moped, also known as a motorized bicycle, is a two-wheeled vehicle that has pedals, a motor that generates less than two gross brake horsepower (or an electric motor no bigger than 1000 watts), and an automatic transmission. There are two sub-types of mopeds, each governed by a different set of regulations. Bear with me! I’ve labeled them for you:
Moped Type CVC 406(a)
The Type A vehicle has operative pedals for propulsion by the rider, or no pedals if powered solely by electrical energy, an automatic transmission, and a motor producing less than two gross brake horsepower capable of propelling the vehicle no faster than 30mph on level ground.
To legally operate this type of Moped you must have either a Class M1 or M2 driver’s license. In order to get such an endorsement, the driver must pass a written exam and pass a riding skills test or complete a safety course. If the driver is under age 21, he or she must also complete an approved Basic Rider education course approved by the California Highway Patrol.
Moped Type CVC 406(b)
The Type B moped has pedals and an electric motor with an output of not more than 1,000 watts. It must be Incapable of reaching speeds of more than 20 mph on level ground, even if assisted by human power (though I have friends who have ridden their un-motorized bicycles faster than 20 MPH on level ground so…).
You do not need a license to operate this type of vehicle. However, you must be at least 16 years old and you must wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet at all times
In addition, you do not have to get motor vehicle insurance or a license plate for a vehicle in this category. While the vehicle must still be registered, you are issued a special license plate and ID cards; they are only $18.00 (a one-time fee!)
California Motorized Scooter
The final type of classification is a motorized scooter. A motorized scooter is defined as a two-wheeled vehicle that has handlebars, a floorboard that you can stand on when riding, and a propulsion system powered by a motor. This type of scooter is different from Vespa and other brand sit-down scooters ridden on the streets, which are subject to all of the laws applicable to motorcycles.
In order to ride a motorized scooter, the rider must wear a bicycle helmet meeting the standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials or the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. A motorized scooter does not have to be registered and does not require a license plate. You can drive a motor scooter as long as you have any class of California driver’s license. Scooters must have a muffler, and the exhaust system cannot be modified in order to make the scooter louder.
In order to ride a motor-driven cycle, moped or motorized scooter in California, you must follow specific rules designed for your safety. If you have been injured in California in an accident involving a motor-driven cycle, moped or motorized scooter, contact Don Sjaarda, California motorcycle accident attorney at 714-963-8216 to learn more about your legal rights.