California Electric Scooter Laws

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.

Every person operating a motorized scooter on a highway receives all the rights of and is subject to the same provisions applicable to any other driver of a vehicle.

These provisions include, but are not limited to, driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs.

California Vehicle Code §21224 – Not Defined as a Motor Vehicle

Motorized scooters do not require registration; additionally, no insurance is required and license plates do not have to be displayed.

California Vehicle Code §21225 – Local Regulations

However, as long as the regulations set forth by local authorities do not conflict with CVC §21224, local authorities have the right to regulate the registration of electric scooters, as well as the operation of and parking of electric scooters on:

  1. Local streets
  2. Highways
  3. Pedestrian and bicycle facilities

California Vehicle Code §21229 – Operation of Electric Scooters in Bicycle Lanes

(a) Whenever there is a class II bicycle lane on a roadway, an individual operating a motorized scooter upon that roadway is to ride within the class II bicycle lane; except that the individual may move outside of the bicycle lane for any of the situations except:

  1. When passing a pedestrian or another vehicle within the lane; or when entering the lane if passing cannot be safely completed within the bicycle lane
  2. If preparing to turn left
  3. When necessary to avoid debris/hazardous conditions
  4. If approaching an area where making a right turn is authorized

(b) No individual operating an electric scooter is permitted to leave the bicycle lane unless it can be accomplished with reasonable safety and only after giving the appropriate signal in the event any vehicle could be affected by this movement (Chapter 6 §22100)

California Vehicle Code §21230

Electric scooters may be operated on a trail, bicycle path, or bikeway; however, if the governing body of a local agency or local authority has jurisdiction over a trail, path, or bikeway, these governing bodies may prohibit the operation of an electric scooter by ordinance.

Electric scooters are permitted on roads that do not have bicycle lanes as long as the speed limit for that road is no more than 25 mph. Unless turning left or passing, the scooter must be ridden close to the right hand curb.

An electric scooter may not be operated on a sidewalk.

California Vehicle Code §21235 – Operation of Motorized Scooters: Prohibitions

An individual operating a motorized scooter is not permitted to operate an electric scooter:

(a) Without a brake

(b) On a road/highway with a speed limit higher than 25 mph

(c) Without a fastened, properly fitted bicycle helmet meeting standards described in §21212

(d) Without a valid instruction permit or driver’s license (any class)

(e) With passengers

(f) While carrying packages, articles, or bundles that keep him/her from having at least one hand on the handlebars

(g) On a sidewalk, unless necessary to leave or enter an adjacent property

(h) On a highway with raised handlebars requiring the operator to have his/her hands elevated above the shoulders

Additionally the operator may not:

(i) Leave an electric scooter lying down on a sidewalk or park the scooter on a sidewalk in a position that blocks the path for pedestrians

(j) Attach the scooter or himself/herself to another vehicle while on the roadway

Insurance is not mandatory; however, individuals who own a motorized scooter may want to contact their insurance company to ask if insurance coverage is available.

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