Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | September 16, 2022 | New York Laws
In some ways, scooters are wonderful vehicles. They get excellent gas mileage—in fact, some of them do not even require gas. They are easy to park, and they are very maneuverable.
Licensing, registration, and insurance requirements apply to some scooters and all motorcycles. These requirements vary depending on the vehicle’s maximum speed.
Limited Use Motorcycles, Mopeds, and Motor Scooters
Under New York law, “limited use motorcycles,” mopeds, and motorized scooters all refer to the same general type of vehicle. Nevertheless, the term “scooter” usually refers to a more powerful vehicle. So how do you know if you are riding one? Well, motorized scooters, however you refer to them, are vehicles that:
- Have two or three wheels;
- Have handlebars;
- Are designed for the rider to stand or sit upon;
- Are subject to certain maximum (slow) speeds;
- Are powered by an electric or gasoline motor; and
- Do not depend on human power (such as pedaling) for locomotion.
Electric bicycles do not qualify as motor scooters under the preceding criteria because their locomotion depends partly on human power rather than motor power.
Restrictions on Various Types of Scooters, Mopeds, and Similar Vehicles
The New York DMV classifies scooters according to their maximum speed, not their horsepower.
Class A Scooters and Mopeds
Class A scooters and mopeds have a maximum speed of over 30-40 mph. Riders must carry a motorcycle license, register their vehicles with the DMV, and carry insurance. You must wear a helmet.
Class B Mopeds
Class B mopeds have a maximum speed of 20-30 mph. You can ride one with either an automobile or a motorcycle license. You must register and insure your Class B moped. You can only ride it in the right-hand lane or on the shoulder of the road, and you must wear a helmet.
Class C Mopeds
Cass C mopeds have a maximum speed of only 20 mph (lower than most bicycles). You can ride them with an automobile or a motorcycle license, and you must register them. Insurance is not mandatory, but it is available. You can only ride it in the right-hand lane or on the shoulder of the road, but you don’t have to wear a helmet.
Electric bikes are partially human-powered bicycles. You don’t need a driver’s license to drive one, but you do need to be at least 16 years old. You don’t have to register your vehicle. You can only ride them in designated bicycle lanes and streets with a speed limit of no greater than 30 mph.
Like motorized vehicles, you cannot ride them on the sidewalk. You must wear a helmet if you are 16 or 17 years old, if you are working (as a delivery driver, for example), and if the bike’s throttle allows a speed of up to 25 mph (instead of the 20 mph limit that many electric bikes are subject to).
Mini-Bikes, Dirt Bikes, Go-Karts, and Golf Carts
These vehicles are strictly off-road. You cannot register them, and you cannot ride them on sidewalks, streets, or highways.
How To Register Your Scooter
To register your scooter (assuming that New York requires you to register it), go to the nearest New York DMV office with the following:
- A Vehicle Registration/Title Application;
- A Statement of Transaction for Sales Tax, proof that you paid the sales tax, or proof that you are tax-exempt;
- Proof that you own the vehicle. You might use a bill of sale, a previous registration of the same vehicle (if it transferred ownership to you), or a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin;
- A government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or state-issued personal ID; and
- Enough money to pay the registration fee. These fees change frequently.
If your vehicle is not registered, do not drive it to the DMV.
Why Scooters Are Dangerous
Scooters offer you no protection in the event of an accident. Even a motorcyclist has a limited ability to accelerate out of trouble upon encountering a dangerous traffic situation. Although you can’t drive very fast on a scooter, most other vehicles on the road can, and that is where the greatest danger lies.
You cannot escape this danger by riding on the sidewalk since New York law forbids riding scooters on them. Scrupulously follow all New York scooter laws because they exist for your protection and the protection of others.
Reach Out to a Lawyer If You Suffer an Injury Accident
Motorcycle and scooter accidents generate a distressingly high number of wrongful death claims. If you suffered an injury in a scooter accident caused by someone else, or if your loved one died that way, don’t suffer in silence. Contact a personal injury lawyer to schedule a free initial consultation.