When the weather is beautiful, it can be tempting to take your electric scooter out for a ride. Especially if you own one that can reach a top speed of 40 or 50 miles per hour, it can feel wonderful to have the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. But where is it legal to ride electric scooters, and where isn’t it? There’s nothing like a traffic violation to ruin a perfectly good ride.
Riding on the Freeway
With all the hype around electric scooters, there have been many incidents where riders took their scooters on the highways and freeways, leading to traffic citations from local police.
Because electric scooters are not considered in the same class of vehicle as cars, motorcycles, or even electric bikes, they do not require a license (or often a DMV registration) to ride. They don’t require drivers’ insurance or license plates, and thus can make traffic accidents tricky to navigate.
There also aren’t a lot of electric scooters that can reach upwards of 30 miles per hour, and even the fastest scooters max out at 50 miles per hour. So, traveling on a freeway with a speed limit of 55 or 65 miles per hour is not ideal for the scooter’s rider or the other drivers on the road .
These factors mean that electric scooters are not permitted on freeways in the United States. However, there are lots of places where you can legally ride your electric scooter. It all depends on where you live.
This article focuses on state laws, but local municipal laws may vary. If your state allows electric scooters on the sidewalk, for instance, your city or town may not. Be sure to check local traffic laws to be sure you avoid any violations.
Riding on the Street
Electric Scooters are allowed on the street in many states, including Illinois, Utah, New Hampshire, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Vermont, New Jersey, Washington, Wisconsin, Ohio, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Mississippi, Indiana, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Texas.
In Florida, electric scooters can only be ridden on the street if they have a seat. Stand-up scooters are not street legal.
In a few states, electric scooter operators must follow traffic laws like any other vehicle . These states include Idaho and Montana. States that require a DMV registration for electric scooters include Illinois, North Carolina, and Alabama.
Some states, like Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Michigan, require riders to have a license for their electric scooter. Insurance is required by Illinois and Ohio.
Riding on the Sidewalk
Electric scooters can be ridden on the sidewalk in Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Mississippi allows e-scooters on sidewalks wherever bikes are allowed, but not on sidewalks intended just for pedestrians. The same is true in Tennessee. Electric scooters can be pushed on sidewalk in Delaware, but never ridden. E-scooters on the sidewalk must have the powertrain turned off.
If your electric scooter does not have a seat, it cannot be ridden on the sidewalk in Florida. Indianapolis prohibits electric scooters from the sidewalk, as well as greenways and cultural trails, requiring they only be ridden in the street. Oklahoma City also prohibits riding on the sidewalk.
Montana prohibits adult electric scooter riders from riding on the sidewalk, but does not seem to explicitly restrict children from riding on the sidewalk. In New Mexico, you can ride on the sidewalk if there is no bike lane.
States that prohibit electric scooters on sidewalks in every instance include Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Washington, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.
In Oregon and Michigan, riders must be 18 years or older to ride electric scooters. In Tennessee, Virginia, Connecticut, Nevada, and Arkansas, riders must be 16 years or older to ride electric scooters. In Minnesota, riders must be at least 12 years old, and in Mississippi, they must be at least 14 years old.
In some states, electric scooter riders are required to wear a helmet if they are younger than a certain age . In North Dakota, Oklahoma, Florida, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Mississippi, helmets are required on riders under the age of 16. Riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet in New Mexico.
Some states put speed limits on electric scooters, meaning your high-speed turbo scooter may not be legal where you live. The speed limit is 15 miles per hour in Minnesota, California, Arkansas, Maryland, and Wisconsin.
New Jersey limits the speed on an electric scooter to 19 miles per hour. In Louisiana, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Iowa, and Maine, the speed limit on electric scooters is between 20 and 25 miles per hour.
Other Laws for Electric Scooters
Electric scooters are allowed to be ridden on bike paths in Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Oregon. They are explicitly prohibited from bike paths in North Dakota and Virginia.
Electric scooters are also banned from footpaths in South Dakota and from unpaved trails in New Jersey. Electric scooters fall under the same laws as bicycles in Iowa, Kentucky, and Hawaii.
Traffic Laws Electric Scooters Must Follow
When riding your electric scooter, these are some general laws of the road that you’ll need to follow:
- Electric scooters need a white headlight and reflectors at night
- Electric scooters cannot be parked on paths or sidewalks
- Riders must keep at least one hand on the handlebars
- Riders are strongly encouraged, and sometimes required, to wear a helmet
Note: some states have more requirements for electric scooters or have legislation allowing certain things, such as parking on sidewalks. Check your state’s e-scooter laws to be certain you’ve got it right.
States that Prohibit Electric Scooters or Have No E-Scooter Laws
Alaska and Wyoming have no legislation addressing the use of electric scooters. Virginia does not have statewide legislation; the information used in this article refers to laws for Arlington County. West Virginia has laws for moped use, but not specifically for electric stand-up scooters.
New York has not legalized electric scooters, but this may soon change with new legislation that could allow them with a speed limit of 15 miles per hour.
Looking for a great new electric scooter? Check out our list of the best electric scooters for adults 2020.