“Is my scooter legal?” is a question many are increasingly asking. The micromobility industry is one of the fastest-growing and most exciting in the world—with promises for a cleaner planet, satisfaction in our commutes, and increased upward social mobility, in addition to abundances of the basics of time and money savings. And with this pace of innovation comes a struggle for regulation to keep up.
We released the first edition of the Scooter Laws Comprehensive in October 2019, and since then it has been the #1 Google search result for many laws-related searches, hopefully giving people clarity in the ways we intended.
However, since then we saw a great number of ways to improve upon the guide, not only taking into account all developments and resources that have been created since then, but also making a number of fundamental improvements.
This includes better distinguishing between city and state regulations, between true electric scooter regulations and that of other form factors (ie mopeds) applied to scooters in absence of specific regulation, and between shared scooters laws and those that apply to all scooters ridden in the state. Finally, we've also included a summary of national scooter laws for each category (sidewalks/helmets/etc).
We also overhauled our graphics via countless iterations to promote better usability and shareability. The color-scale has been redefined, and we have also analyzed all 50 states in the US (plus Washington DC).
This project has not been easy. Laws can be complex, early or late, or not even enforced (or even known for that matter). We scoured through all available, current documentation to provide a definitive guide on electric scooter legality. Although Unagi is based in the United States, we are rapidly growing internationally and plan to publish our research for other countries soon. We also plan to update this resource on an (at least) annual basis as well as take deeper dives into smaller subsections of regions (ie a post just for London, NYC or the state of Tennessee). This project is a living, breathing, evolving piece of work, and, as the legal landscape for electric scooter riding evolves and changes, this piece will change with it. We will also include links to new resources within this document as they are published.
Lawmakers and enforcers across the world have been wrestling with electric scooters since Bird brought shared scooters to the scene in 2017. While the shared scooter phenomenon created a low-carbon, cheap, and efficient means of transportation for millions of commuters and joy seekers worldwide, it also spurred a deluge of complaints from metropolitan pedestrians. Although scooter sharing certainly has its benefits, it also brings about a number of obvious costs: sidewalk congestion, traffic obstruction, and accidents, as well as the danger, de-beautification, and health concerns that a poorly kept or vandalized fleet presents.
The backlash stemming from these costs has caused worldwide governments on the city, state, regional, provincial, and in some cases, federal level to evaluate the social implications of electric scooters in light of not only shared scooters specifically, but also the (often quite nasty) legal wars with Uber and Lyft that preceded electric micromobility.
These dispositions have heavily informed the legal status of electric scooters, but the bright side is that as the dust has settled, impact is becoming more universally positive and understood.
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Electric Scooter Laws by Category
You may think that sidewalks are always off-limits for scooters, and for shared scooters in urban centers, they essentially are. At the state level, however, and for all scooters, sidewalks are only banned in 10 states (excluding Pennsylvania and Delaware where scooters are not legal on public streets at all). However, in a world presently built for efficient movement of cars, not humans, there is much more to this tricky infrastructure discussion. Here, we expound on sidewalks and scooters.
You will find that in almost all cases, scooters are not allowed on high-speed streets (streets with a speed limit above 35 mph for example), however, few scooter riders will want to do this anyway. And again, only Pennsylvania and Delaware actually ban scooters on streets. You might be surprised to hear that there are cool niche communities developing for very fast scooters (Electric Scooter Guide can tell you more), but the majority of people will feel safe while getting there quick and having fun at 15 mph or 20 mph.
Maximum speed is one of the most commonly enforced items for electric scooters. The most common speed limit is 20 mph, which many may not expect, coming from the shared scooter model where scooters are almost universally regulated at top speeds of 10-15 miles per hour.
Licenses and Registration
The great news for electric scooters is that they only require DMV registration in one state, North Carolina. You will not be so fortunate if you are driving a motorcycle or moped. This is because scooters are one of the most accessible types of vehicles there is. While studies have shown shared scooters to commonly lead to injuries (mostly on the first ride), personally-owned scooters allow people to try them out in a safe environment and get past the danger of a first or second ride. Studies also demonstrate riders getting the hang of scooters very quickly, unlike cars where a young adult takes entire driver’s ed courses and then is still charged extreme premiums by insurance. In effort to produce some order in the chaos, 9 states have required driver’s licenses in order to operate an electric scooter, but this method is unlikely to become the norm, given the special power of micromobility to give people access to opportunities who cannot afford a car.
Minimum Age and Helmet Requirement
The most common minimum age in the nation for electric scooter riding is 16+, and helmets are usually required for those below the age of 18. In states where helmets are required for all ages, it is usually an extension of moped laws to electric scooters. No governing body recommends that a rider not wear a helmet, and quite notably (as is also the case with bicycles), riders are trusted to make responsible decisions for their health and wear a helmet.
In general, electric scooter laws are rarely enforced or watched closely due to the developing nature of the landscape (even more so in the case of personally-owned lightweight electric vehicles). Micromobility has been popping up in troves all around the United States in recent years, even where it hasn’t technically been fully legalized yet, due to incredible demand
—see New York listed below for a great example. Of course, some regulations are taken more seriously than others too (for example riding drunk on a scooter is just about as foolish as it is inside the 6,000lb cars we drive). In all cases, it is important that riders seek to take consideration for those around them—pedestrians, other riders, and even cars that might be caught off guard by unpredictable riding styles—as well as become informed as to the regulations and transportation cultures of their locality.
Electric Scooter Laws by US State
In July 2019, Alabama legalized electric scooters at the state level (Ala. Code § 32-1-1.1), but left further development of ordinances to cities/local municipalities. While some Alabama cities tend to struggle with the existence of electric scooters, others are embracing the freedoms and conveniences the concept provides. In Birmingham, electric scooters are classified as motor vehicles and require registration tags and motorcycle license. In Auburn and Tuscaloosa, scooters currently aren't street legal.
In absence of true electric scooter regulation in Alaska, you're very unlikely to run into trouble if you ride one (nor will they be common in this state). In Alaska, electric scooters are regulated as "motor driven cycles," which places them under the government division of motor vehicles. This requires them to have a power of less than 750W. If riders are 14 or 15, they will require an M2 permit, and those 16 or older will require either an M1 or M3 permit so long as they had a permit for 6 months prior to being licensed (similarly to getting licensed for cars).
Arizona passed laws (SB 1398) for electric scooters in April 2019 at the state level. They are treated very similarly to bikes, and an “electric standup scooter" is defined as less than 75 lbs in weight and 20 mph in top speed.
This means they can be ridden wherever a bike can (including sidewalks and excluding high speed roads) and that they do not require registration or insurance.
Arkansas passed the Electric Motorized Scooter Act in July, 2019, thus legalizing and regulating electric scooters. This law states that the scooters themselves must weigh less than 100 pounds and have a top speed of 20 mph or less, but riders are not permitted to ride faster than 15 mph. Riders must be at least 16 years old.
Arkansas also grants cities/localities the ability to regulate sharing programs, mandating that private fleet operating companies carry liability insurance, and give local governments access to their rider data.
California legalized and regulated electric scooters through Vehicle Code § 21235 in Jan, 2019. Riders must have a valid driver's license, but do not need to register their scooter with the DMV. Electric scooters are not allowed to go over 15 MPH on any public road or bike lane, and they must stay on slower streets, having speed limits of 25 MPH or lower. Helmets are required for riders under the age of 18.
California is both the birthplace of shared scooters (Bird in Santa Monica in Sept 2017) and the tension beginning in March 2018 with the San Francisco launches of Bird, Lime, and Spin without government permission—setting a trend for the shared scooter industry. The events of the following years ultimately gave scooters a bad reputation, while also familiarizing many hundreds of millions of people globally with the possibility and potential of lightweight electric vehicles.
If you are seeking a personal injury lawyer that knows electric scooters, you can start with Dordulian Law Group.
Colorado permits electric scooters on streets with speed limits of 30mph or less. If this isn't an option, electric scooters may operate on the sidewalk, traveling at a speed of 6mph or less. Scooter riders must obey the same rules of the road as a bicycle, including “no ride/no parking areas."
Connecticut passed electric scooter laws in 2019, and they are very similar to bike laws. Helmets are required for riders under the age of 16. Scooters are not allowed on sidewalks and must not surpass a speed of 20 mph.
In Delaware, electric scooters are regulated in the same category as "motorized skateboards" and are not allowed on public roads. This generally means that the more high-traffic the road, the more likely you are to run into trouble. Although do keep in mind that not all laws are enforced, especially in emerging legal gray areas, so you will have to use your discretion as well as seek to understand your specific local situation. Helmets must be worn by riders under the age of 16. They are not allowed on "highways, streets, or sidewalks," according to Delaware’s Title 21 Ch. 41 Sc 12 Provision 4198N.
District of Columbia / Washington D.C.
In October 2020, DC passed new legislation to regulate and define electric scooters. DC law 50–2201.02 defines scooters as a “personal mobility device” or “PMD”—"a motorized propulsion device designed to transport one person or a self-balancing, two non-tandem wheeled device [ie a Segway], designed to transport only one person...but does not include a battery-operated wheelchair.
50–2201.04a states that scooters are not considered motor vehicles (ie cars and motorcycles) under DC law, so a license, registration, and insurance are not required. There is, however, a minimum rider age of 16. Helmets are not required, and scooters cannot be ridden on sidewalks in the central business district. Although no US state has a speed limit lower than 15 mph, DC currently has a speed limit of 10 mph. This regulation was created with shared scooters in mind, but at the moment still affects privately-owned scooters. Another regulation unique to DC is that riders cannot wear headphones.
Regulations that only affect shared scooters include helmets for those under 18 and all vehicles being locked to racks or poles.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis legalized statewide electric scooter use in 2019. Riders must be 16 years old, but are not required to have a driver's license. Scooters are permitted to operate in bike lanes and must follow road rules pertaining to bikes as well. The bill allowed individual cities to regulate scooter programs, but personal scooter ownership cannot be bound by individual cities' decisions. Scooters must not exceed a maximum speed of 30 mph, although attorney Matt Dolman adds that, "Florida law basically gives scooters that cannot exceed 15 miles per hour [in particular] the same status as bicycles."
The state of Georgia allows its residents to operate electric scooters on bike paths and bike lanes, and on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less if these are not available. Scooters must weigh less than 100 pounds and have of maximum speed of 20 mph.
Beyond this, Georgia has stated that it will leave more specific electric scooter laws to cities/localities, saying “[we don't] want to overregulate the industry...we want to encourage more development of this kind of technology.”
Hawaii currently has no regulation for electric scooters. You will probably still see a good amount of privately-owned ones riding around on city streets, but shared scooters have never been able to gain traction in the state, and one could equally consider personally owned scooters either legal or illegal based on interpretation and context.
Boise and the state of Idaho doesn't require helmets for electric scooters or bicyclists. In Boise, they are allowed on streets, sidewalks, and the Greenbelt. Despite the city of Boise's clearly outlined rules, the state of Idaho does not have legislation specifically concerning the use of electric scooters.
Illinois introduced bill HB1590 in 2019 (that has not been acted upon yet, albeit somewhat understandably given the events of 2020) that classifies "low speed electric scooters" as their own class of vehicle which shall abide by the same rules of the road as bicycles. Riders under the age of 17 must have a valid driver's license to ride, and scooters must have front and rear lights to ride at night. This means that scooters are technically unregulated at the state level at the present time.
Indiana enacted new legislation that specifically addresses electric scooters in July 2019. The law outlines that scooters must weigh less than 100 pounds and have a maximum speed of 20 mph. E-scooters that meet these criteria have all the same rights and responsibilities as a bicycle. You can ride them in the street and on bike paths, and you don't need insurance or a license to ride one. They're also not legally considered motor vehicles (ie cars/motorcycles/etc).
The Iowa state senate introduced a bill in 2019 (which has not yet been acted upon) that defines electric scooters as scooters that weigh less than 100 lbs, are equipped with two or three wheels, handlebars, and a floorboard, and are powered by an electric motor of less than 20 mph max speed. The bill proposes to treat scooters as bicycles, allowing them on roads, sidewalks, and bikeways.
Kansas has legalized electric scooters at the state-level. Riders may not operate bikes or electric scooters on sidewalks or highways. Helmets are not required. Only riders with valid driver’s licenses may operate electric scooters.
In March 2019, House Bill 258 was signed into Kentucky law. It sets operating standards for electric scooters and allows them to operate like bicycles on public streets. This means you are not required to register them with the state or purchase insurance.
Louisiana legalized electric scooters at the state-level in 2019. According to the DMV, Louisiana allows electric, low-speed scooters to operate on sidewalks, bicycle paths, and streets with posted speed limits of 25 mph or less. Only one person is allowed on the scooter at a time. Helmets must be worn by those under the age of 17.
Electric scooters are legal in Maine at the state level. However, the specific laws applied to electric scooters that follow have been re-applied from other classifications, such as mopeds.
Electric scooters are not permitted to be operated faster than 20 mph. When riding at night, a scooter must be equipped with a front white light and a red or amber rear light, as well as reflectors. Wheels must not exceed 10" in diameter and maximum power is capped at 750 watts. A license is required, but every class will suffice.
In 2019, Maryland’s state legislature legalized electric scooters and passed a bill (SB770), designating stand-up scooters as their own class of vehicle. The bill established that an electric low-speed scooter is considered to be a bicycle for the purposes of the Maryland Vehicle Law. Scooters must have a maximum speed of 20 mph.
Electric scooters are legal in Massachusetts at the state level. In absence of finer regulation, they are group with motorized scooters (ie mopeds). This requires electric scooter riders to wear a helmet, yield to people walking, and provide an audible signal when passing. A driver's license is required, and they are allowed a max speed of 20 mph.
Electric scooters are legal in Michigan by HB5643 and classified in the same category as electric skateboards. They can only transport one person at a time, and they cannot have a motor greater than 2,500W (electric scooters are typically 250-500W) or max speed greater than 25 mph. Scooters are only allowed on streets with speed limits of less than 25 mph. Scooters may not pass other vehicles between lanes of traffic, and they require a white front light visible from 500 feet away and a rear reflector visible from 600 feet away.
Electric scooters are legal in Minnesota and are categorized as "motorized foot scooters," which riders can stand or sit on, have handlebars, are powered by an electric motor or internal combustion engine, have wheels no larger than 12 inches in diameter, and have a max speed of no more than 15 mph. Riders must be at least 12 years old, and helmets are required for those under the age of 18.
Mississippi has no statewide laws regarding electric scooters, so jurisdiction goes to the cities and local municipalities. A bill (HB1410) was introduced in 2020, but the bill failed to pass. Despite this, shared scooter company Blue Duck began a small pilot in Vicksburg in late 2020.
Electric scooters are legal in Missouri and are regulated as "motorized bicycles," says the Missouri State Highway Patrol. They can be operated in the street or in bike lanes where available. A driver's license is required, and if a scooter is to go above 30 mph, it will be regulated as a motorcycle instead.
Electric scooters are legal in Montana and regulated as "motorized bicycles." Adult electric scooter riders are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk. Pedestrians always have the right away. Electric scooter riders must give a verbal warning if they are going to pass, and must always obey the traffic controls.
Nebraska has not enacted electric scooter regulation at the state-level, and the Nebraska DMV expressly states that scooters do not need to be registered. When operating electric scooters on streets, riders must abide by the rules of the road. Riding on the sidewalk is prohibited.
Electric scooters are legal in Nevada by AB485. Scooters must not weigh more than 100 pounds without a rider and must not exceed a max speed of 20 miles per hour. Riders must be at least 16 years old.
New Hampshire does not have state-wide laws for electric scooters. Some individual cities have passed their own regulation such as Portsmouth and Nashua, but these specifically concern the use and operation of shared fleet scooters like Bird or Spin.
In May 2019, New Jersey legalized electric scooters (N.J. Stat. § 39:4-14.16), categorizing them as “low speed electric scooters," specifically. They must not exceed a max speed of 19 miles per hour. Scooters are bound by the same rules of the road as bicycles. The decision of whether e-scooters can be driven on sidewalks and trails is left to the cities and municipalities. A driver’s license is not needed to ride a scooter, and neither is insurance or vehicle registration.
New Mexico does not have any statewide laws regarding electric scooters and has largely left it to cities and local municipalities. In January 2019, the New Mexico Legislature introduced H.B. 292, which introduced the regulatory frame work of “electric foot scooters” at the state level, but no further action has been taken. There was a shared scooter pilot program in Albuquerque that ran from May 2019 to May 2020 that was quite popular, but there have not been any developments since then.
The state of New York legalized scooters in August 2020, a monumental step for micromobility and the future of cities. Roughly 50% of car trips in the U.S. are under 3 miles, and in New York, trips are especially short and urban. Before this event, New York was one of the most famous global examples of both unregulated micromobility (in the case of personally-owned scooters) and banned micromobility (in the case of shared scooter companies).
At the state level, riders must be at least 16 years old, must wear helmets if under the age of 18, must stay off sidewalks, and must stay off streets of posted speed limits higher than 30 mph.
Cities and municipalities have the right to either override these laws (which is not expected) or extend them. The most notable by far—New York City—passed regulation in November 2020 to apply to the five boroughs and also finally opened its permit process for five private companies to operate shared scooters starting March 2021. In NYC, scooters are not to exceed 20 miles per hour. Despite being very late to legalize scooters, New York City was also well-known for not enforcing or penalizing those who regularly rode personal electric scooters.
Electric scooters are vehicles under North Carolina Law, meaning they must be registered with the DMV and riders must have a valid driver’s license. Scooters can only be ridden on streets that have a speed limit of 25 mph or less.
There are no laws in North Dakota specifically regulating electric scooters, but they are bound by existing legislation of “motorized scooters” (ie mopeds). Electric scooter riders are required to stay off sidewalks and bike paths. Electric scooters must have brakes, a headlight, and taillight. Riders must wear a motorcycle helmet if under the age of 18.
Ohio passed H.B. 295 in January, 2021, which legalizes and regulates electric scooters as "low-speed micromobility devices." Scooters must not exceed 20 mph or 100 lbs in weight. They are exempt from licensing and registration requirement. They are permitted on public roads, but must yield to pedestrians and have front and rear lights at night. The minimum rider age is 16.
There are no statewide laws in Oklahoma regarding electric scooters, so regulation has been left to individual cities. There are sharing programs in Norman, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Stillwater. Under Oklahoma City ordinance, for example, scooters are allowed in bike lanes and roads with a 35 mph speed limit. Another ordinance prohibits anyone under 18 from operating or riding a motor scooter without a helmet.
Oregon has not passed regulations specific to electric scooters and is currently being regulated as a moped by Or. Rev. Stat. § 801.348. Portland, the largest city in Oregon does not permit scooters on sidewalks and requires that riders be at least 16 years old and not exceed 15 miles per hour. Instead of passing statewide legislation for electric scooters, Oregon simply clarified guidelines for electric scooters within the category of mopeds—repeating each of the listed Portland laws.
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to ride electric scooters on public roads because it is believed that “[the] vehicles do not comply with the equipment standards and inspection requirements for motor vehicles.” House Bill 631 was introduced in 2019 to create guidelines for electric scooters, but it has not yet been acted upon by the state Transportation Committee. At the same time, the PA DMV outlines clear characteristics of “electric personal assistive mobility devices (EPAMDs)” that mirror the characteristics of electric scooters. The DMV even states that Segways are not classified as motor vehicles and are to follow the same laws as bikes. With the DMV and state legislature saying different things, there is a perfect example of the legislative confusion that can hamper adoption of micromobility nationwide and around the world.
Rhode Island does not have statewide legislation addressing electric scooters, and pilot programs for scooter sharing are being handled by cities. The city of Providence requires a valid driver's license or municipal ID. Scooters can be ridden on sidewalks or streets, and riders are encouraged to go slow and wear a helmet. On the street, riders are required to follow all rules of the road and obey traffic regulations.
South Carolina has no statewide laws pertaining to electric scooters, but does allow cities to self-regulate scooter sharing programs. Both Charleston and Columbia banned electric scooters in 2018 and 2019 respectively, with no further developments since then. It is not clear where e-scooters fit into the state’s motor vehicle codes. For now, the laws surrounding gas powered mopeds are the closest thing we have to understanding what is and isn’t legal as far as scooters go.
South Dakota has no statewide laws regarding e-scooters, rather scooters have existing regulations for mopeds applied to them, including requirements for mirrors, lights, brakes, a license, insurance, and DMV registration. Riders must wear eye protection while driving unless the scooter is equipped with a windscreen that is big enough to provide adequate eye protection. Helmets are required for everyone under 18.
Tennessee passed legislation legalizing and regulating electric scooters in July 2019 (Tenn. Code § 55-8- 302). The law grouped scooters into the same category as e-bikes and defined e-scooters as “a device weighing less than 100 pounds, with handlebars and an electric motor ... whose maximum speed is 20 miles per hour.” Scooters must have brakes and front lights and rear lights or reflectors. Scooters cannot be ridden on sidewalks unless a city or local municipality allows it.
In Texas, there are no electric scooter specific laws, and thus they are bound by existing DMV rules for "motor-assisted scooters” (ie mopeds) by Texas Transp. Code § 551.351. This law does not permit scooters to be ridden on roads with a speed limit greater than 35 mph and limits power to 750W. Electric scooters are exempt from safety inspection, license, registration and insurance requirements. Texas is relatively unlikely to regulate scooters at the state level, leaving them largely unregulated and leaving cities and local municipalities to decide regulations for themselves. Many Texas cities and colleges have scooter sharing programs, so a large amount of Texans are familiar with electric scooters.
Utah enacted a law in May 2019 to legalize and regulate electric scooters, which are effectively treated as bikes. This exempts scooters from motor vehicle requirements like licensing and registration. Scooters can be ridden anywhere that bikes can, notably only ridden on roads with a speed limit of 25 mph. Riders must not exceed 15 mph. Anyone under 15 years old must be in the direct supervision of a parent or guardian.
Vermont has no state-wide electric scooter laws, but has some regulation in place on the city level that is more focused on shared scooters (for example a 15 mph limit in Burlington). Scooters and electric bicycles are treated as vehicles and therefore must ride on roadways and not sidewalks.
Virginia passed dedicated e-scooter legislation (§ 46.2-908) in July, 2020. It states that scooters must weigh less than 100 pounds, have a top speed of 20 mph, sets a minimum age of 14, and blocks use on highways, says Virginia source, Ritchie Law Firm. The law also permits counties and cities to regulate or ban micromobility vehicles via local ordinances.
Washington passed scooter legislation in May, 2019 that legalized scooters, calling them "motorized foot scooters," specifically. Washington Rev. Code § 46.20.500 clearly outlines a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour in either streets or bike lanes. Reflectors are required at night. Those under 16 may not ride unless a local jurisdiction expressly allows it, and sidewalk-riding will also be determined on a city-by-city basis. The state code also alludes to slower speed standards potentially being set for sidewalk riding.
West Virginia does not have any laws regarding electric scooters, but they did pass a bill in 2020 to regulate e-bikes. It is safe to assume that these regulations may extend to scooters in the near future. This new law exempted e-bikes from license, registration, and insurance requirements. It also states that e-bikes must follow the same rules of the road as bicycles, and states that riders under 15 must wear helmets.
In July 2019, the Wisconsin state assembly signed off on a bill to regulate electric scooters on roads and sidewalks. Scooters must not exceed a speed of 20 mph or weight of 100 lbs. Scooters are not allowed on sidewalks except in certain circumstances, and riders are bound to the same rules of the road as bikes. The bill also permits local governments to regulate shared scooter operators and set their own rules on scooters within their jurisdiction.
Wyoming has no specific electric scooter laws, but the state did pass a law in 2019 that grants e-bikes the same privileges as traditional bicycles and defines a few different types of lightweight personal vehicles. Wyoming NO. SF0081 has a section regarding scooters, but it can be easily inferred that it is referring to mopeds. The law states that e-bikes and electric skateboards are exempt from licensing and registration requirements, but that scooters (ie mopeds) are legally considered motorcycles. Scooter are regulated as electric skateboards under this law, and share the same privileges granted to e-bikes.
If you notice any information that is not correct, please submit this simple, quick form to let us know. We will review all submissions as we seek to make this resource useful for the industry, governing bodies from the small county municipality to international authority, and the everyday rider.
*Disclaimer: Unagi, INC. has used best efforts, but does not in any manner guarantee the accuracy of the included findings regarding electric scooter laws in the United States or internationally. Electric scooter riders or those considering to purchase or begin riding electric scooters should refer to their local governments to obtain the most up-to-date information on the applicable, local legal standing of scooters.