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Electric Scooter Laws in California

With the rising concern of traffic, pollution, and high fuel rates, people are getting more inclined towards electrically powered vehicles. These are compact, environment friendly, and economical.

The ride-sharing systems by several companies like Bird, Lime, and Razor are also behind the rising craze of electric scooters in the USA.

The hassle-free convenience of using an electric scooter for commuting on a rental basis is the main attraction. The price you pay for an electric scooter rental is far lesser than other vehicles.

Riding an electric scooter may be convenient and fun for you, but it comes with several risks while operating amid traffic like any other vehicle.

Before using an electric scooter, it becomes essential for a rider to know all the local laws for an electric scooter for a safe driving experience and avoid violating specific laws.

California DMV specified a specific set of laws for electric scooters to ensure riders’ safety and security.

Electric Scooter Laws In California

Electric Scooter Definition As Per State Of California Dmv

The California DMV defines an electric scooter as a motorized scooter with two wheels, handlebars, a motor, and a floorboard specifically designed to stand on while riding the scooter.

The scooter may have a driving seat, which doesn’t affect the rider’s ability to stand on the floorboard while riding the scooter. The scooter may also have the feature to work with human propulsion.

License, Insurance, And Registration Requirement For Driving An Electric Scooter In California

As per the electric scooter laws in California, motorized scooters don’t need license plates or be registered with the DMV.

An electric scooter also doesn’t require any insurance. However, you can consult your insurance provider to ensure your electric scooter for your safety.

Riders don’t need any specific driving license, but having a driving license is necessary to drive an electric scooter. The riders can drive an electric scooter with any class driver’s license.

Laws For Age Restriction And Helmet Requirements For Riders While Driving An Electric Scooter In California

The electric scooter laws in California state that an electric scooter operator must be at least 16 years old.

The regulations require a rider having an age less than 18 must wear a properly fitted bike helmet. Riders must fasten the helmet.

The riders having age 18 or above are not required to wear a helmet. If a minor is getting caught riding an electric scooter without a helmet, a fine of about $200 can be imposed.

Paths Or Lanes On Which Riders Can Legally Operate An Electric Scooter

California DMV electric scooter laws allow riders to ride their scooters in class-2 and class-4 bicycle lane regardless of the maximum speed limit.

The class-2 bike lane is an on-street lane marked by white lines specifically for bicycles. A class-4 is a protected bike lane separate from the motor lane, parking lane, and sidewalk.

The electric scooter is allowed to operate on streets with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, considering that the electric scooter itself has a speed of 15 mph or less.

The California electric scooter laws state electric scooters can also operate on streets with a maximum speed limit of 35 miles per hour unless the county or town having jurisdiction over the street has passed a specific ordinance for this.

Few exceptions are provided for the electric scooters to leave their specified lanes:

  • When passing a person or another vehicle
  • While turning left
  • To avoid debris or other hazardous conditions on the bike lane.
  • When turning right

The electric scooters are not allowed to operate on sidewalks unless leaving or entering adjacent properties.

Maximum Legal Speed For An Electric Scooter In California

According to the California DMV electric scooter law, the legal maximum speed for an electric scooter is 15 miles per hour. The legal speed limit holds regardless of the path or lane an electric scooter is driven in. Anyone caught while driving an electric scooter over the speed limit.

California Electric Scooter Laws Have Specific Rules For Turning Left

While turning left, a rider will have to cross several lanes of traffic. It can result in a mishap.

For preventing any collision and scooter accidents, the California electric scooter laws have a particular set of instructions for the riders to follow every time they take a left turn:

  • Stop after the intersection on the right-hand side of the roadway.
  • Dismount from your electric scooter
  • Cross the roadway on foot

Traffic Rules For Electric Scooters

It is one of the most critical laws for electric scooters in the state of California. As per the CVC, an electric scooter is considered a motor vehicle.

Electric scooters have the same rights and responsibilities as a motor vehicle. It is a “catch-all” law for electric scooters. As a rider of an electric scooter, you must know and follow the rules.

These laws specifically mention driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a rider is caught in that state, it can result in a DUI charge and a $350 traffic ticket.

Prohibitions According To The Electric Scooter Law Of California

There are several prohibitions on riding an electric scooter in California. These are punishable offenses if caught.

  • A rider is not allowed to operate an electric scooter without brakes.
  • Riders must not operate an electric scooter on roads with a higher than 25 mph speed limit.
  • A minor having age below 18 years cannot ride without a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.
  • A rider is not allowed to ride an electric scooter without a driving license of any class.
  • An electric scooter is not allowed for a tandem ride, having two riders on a single electric scooter.
  • A rider is not allowed to carry packages that require the use of both hands. At least one hand should be on the handlebars.
  • Riders must not operate an electric scooter on the road with handlebars raised to the point where the rider’s hands are elevated above the shoulders.
  • A rider is not allowed to leave the electric scooter lying down on a sidewalk.
  • A rider must not park the electric scooter to block the path for another person or vehicle.
  • A rider is not allowed to attach himself/herself scooter to another vehicle while on the road.

Are Electric Scooters Legal In California?

Yes, electric scooters are legal in California. However, riding an electric scooter requires a rider to follow a specific set of laws regulated by California.

What Are The Bike Laws In California?

Apart from the electric scooters, electric bikes are another great environment friendly and economical option for commuting. Since it also runs on a battery and a motor, California has specified a set of laws and regulations for using an electric bike.

According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC), electric bikes are defined as conventional bicycles. The electric bike’s maximum motor power must not exceed 750W, and the maximum speed limit is 28 mph. The motor must stop working whenever brakes are applied.

Electric bike motors must come with a switch or a mechanism, which can be used to control the motor function. Riders do not need a license to ride an electric bike.

The electric bike itself doesn’t need a license or registration. Riders must be older than 16 years to ride electric bikes in California.

The laws of the state of California define three classes of electric bikes:

Class-1: Electric bikes with a motor assist function only while pedaling. The motor function will cease to work when the electric bike reaches the maximum speed of 20 mph.

Class-2: An electric bike that provides motor power whether the rider is pedaling or not. The bike can work in motor assist mode without pedaling and motor assists mode with pedaling. However, there must be a mechanism to stop the motor assist when the speed reaches a maximum of 20 mph.

Class-3: An electric bike that provides electrical power only when the rider is pedaling and stops the motor function when the speed limit of 28 mph is reached. The rider must be older than 16 years to operate a class-3 electric bike. Class 3 bikes are not allowed on bike paths unless authorized by the local authority having jurisdiction over the path.

Some rules are specified in the electric bike laws of California:

  • For riding a class 3 electric bike, a rider must be at least 16 years old.
  • The minimum age requirement for an electric bike rider is at least 16.
  • Anyone under the age of 18 must wear a properly fitted bike helmet while driving an electric bike.
  • The operation of electric bikes on dedicated bike paths is prohibited. The electric bikes can operate on the path running adjacent to a road or highway.
  • Riding a class 3 electric bike is prohibited on any bicycle path or trail. Riders can only operate the class 3 electric bike on a path adjacent to a roadway.

Conclusion

If you want to ride your scooter or bike conveniently on California roads, be aware of its road rules.

Ignoring the same can cost you a fortune. Hence, stay safe and enjoy your ride!

Written by Lee Hill

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