Do You Need a Motorcycle License to Drive a Scooter?

Scooters have grown in popularity recently due to their affordability, convenience, and fun. A common question for many who want to drive a scooter is if you need a motorcycle license or not. Do you need a motorcycle license to drive a scooter?

In general, you need a license, or a variation of it, to drive a scooter in the U.S. Some states treat scooters and motorcycles the same. Some states have a distinct type of license for scooters. And some states only require you to have a normal driver’s license.

If you have recently purchased a scooter, make sure you have already reviewed your state or city’s licensing laws. The same thing goes for those who are planning to buy one soon. That way, you’ll be aware of all the road restrictions before you start riding on the streets.

We’ll look at the scooter licensing laws in the following U.S. states:

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Florida
  4. Texas
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Illinois

Read on to learn more about the license requirements for driving a scooter in various states.

do you need a motorcycle license to drive a scooter

Do You Need a Motorcycle License to Drive a Scooter?

You need a license, or a variation of it, to drive a scooter in most U.S. states. Some states treat scooters and motorcycles the same. Some states have a distinct type of license for scooters. And some states only require you to have a normal driver’s license.

Below are the different scooter license requirements for some of the most populated states in the U.S. Other states or even other countries might have similar laws, but you should check your local laws to make sure.

1. California

Do you need a motorcycle license to drive a scooter in California? California law treats and defines motorized bicycles, mopeds, and scooters differently. The rules for scooters are laxer than for mopeds. Nonetheless, these are implemented rules that should be taken seriously.

Under California law, a motorized or electric scooter has the following features:

  • A motor that powers the scooter;
  • A floorboard where the driver can stand up even while driving;
  • Handlebars; and
  • Two wheels.

There’s no need for scooter drivers in California to obtain a motorcycle-specific license. However, all scooter drivers should have a regular driver’s license. And even if scooters are considered street-legal, there’s no need to obtain license plates and registration from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Scooter drivers are mandated to follow standard traffic and safety laws. But there are also state laws that are specifically implemented for scooter drivers. These include the following:

  • Drivers should not drive faster than 15 mph on the road;
  • Scooter drivers can’t have passengers;
  • You should not drive scooters on sidewalks;
  • Unless there’s a bike lane, scooters are not allowed on roads with a speed limit of above 25 mph. In which case, scooters can’t be driven outside the bike lane; and
  • Scooter drivers should wear a helmet at all times. This helmet should comply with the helmet laws of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

2. New York

Do you need a motorcycle license to drive a scooter in NY? In New York, scooters are described as “limited use motorcycles” following the state’s Vehicle and Traffic Law. This means that scooters are the same as motorcycles. And this further means that owners and drivers must conform to the registration and licensing laws governing motorcycles.

There are three scooter classifications in New York, which are based on their top speed. 

Class A

Class A includes scooters with their maximum speed ranging between 30 and 40 miles per hour (mph). Owners or drivers should obtain a class M / MJ license. This type of scooter can also be driven in any traffic lane.

Class B

Class B includes scooters with their maximum speed ranging between 20 and 30 miles per hour. You don’t need a specific license to drive a Class B scooter. Nonetheless, you need to obtain a license to drive one in NY. Class B scooters can only be driven along the shoulder or in the right-hand lane.

Class C

Class C includes scooters with a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour. Similar to Class B scooters, the Class C drivers don’t need a specific license. But they nonetheless need to have one. You should only drive them along the shoulder or in the right-hand lane.

3. Florida

Do you need a motorcycle license to drive a scooter in Florida? The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles does not have a law that defines motorized or electric scooters. However, they fall under the category of motorcycles.

While general motorcycle laws apply to scooters, there are also specific rules implemented in Florida for scooters driven on public streets and properties. And like in any other state, violating these rules will most likely result in substantial fines. Worse, the authorities may have the right to confiscate your scooter.

do i need a motorcycle license for a scooter

According to Florida laws:

  • Two- or three-wheeled vehicles with a 50-cubic centimeter (cc) motor or less in size don’t fall under the motorcycle category.
  • Motorized or electric scooters are considered motor vehicles. So those who can legally drive one on the road or street must be 16 years old. They can’t drive with only a learner’s permit. They need to obtain a Class E driver’s license or a motorcycle-only license.
  • You are not required to wear a helmet under any of the following circumstances:
    • His scooter’s top speed does not exceed 30 mph;
    • His scooter is below two brake horsepower (bhp); or
    • His scooter’s engine is below the 50 cc limit.

However, if you’re passenger is below 16 years old they should wear a helmet.

  • While getting insurance is not required by law, it is nonetheless best to always avail one.
  • A scooter, or any vehicle under five bhp, is not allowed on a highway or an interstate. In most cases, if not all, this translates to scooters under 50 cc.

On a highway or an interstate, vehicles must maintain a speed of a minimum of 40 mph. While it’s easy for scooters to maintain or even exceed this speed, driving scooters on a highway will always be dangerous.

  • If you’re driving your scooter along the yellow lines between the lanes, the chances are that you will get apprehended by the police. If you do, you are violating a law even if you’re merely waiting for the traffic light to turn green.
  • People below 16 years old are not permitted to drive a scooter if the motor is above 150 cc.
  • If you are driving below the normal traffic speed, you must stay at the road’s right side edge unless you are turning left or unless prohibited.
  • You should not use pedestrian or bicycle lanes.

So for California, NY, and Florida, we’ve answered the questions: “Do you need a motorcycle license for a scooter?” also, “Do I need a motorcycle license for a 150cc scooter?”. Now, let’s see if you need a license in Texas, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

4. Texas

Do you need a motorcycle license to drive a scooter in Texas? If you are in Texas, you do need a motorcycle license to drive a scooter. The state has stricter laws concerning scooters compared to some states.

Here is an overview of Texas scooter laws:

  • Motorized scooters include Vespas and mopeds.
  • Your driver’s license must have a motorcycle endorsement or a separate license specifically for scooter-driving to lawfully drive a scooter.
  • To obtain a scooter license, you must pass a written exam, and you must be 15 years of age.
  • Scooters that can operate should at least have a 50 cc engine.
  • All scooters must pass an annual inspection and must be registered in Texas.
  • Riders under 21 years old are required to wear helmets. But if you have health insurance and have passed a safety course, then more lax helmet laws apply to you.
  • If you are driving slower than other vehicles, you must stay on the right side of the road to ensure safety.
  • It is unlawful to attach skates, a sled, a toy vehicle, or the like onto the scooter.

5. Pennsylvania

Do you need a motorcycle license to drive a scooter in PA? In Pennsylvania, scooters are defined as “motor-driven cycles,” and their bhp must not exceed five horsepower. Unlike mopeds, they must pass an inspection. In which case, they must have working signal lights, brakes, and all other necessary equipment and requirements.

PA has strict rules for scooter drivers. If you’re one of them, you must ensure that your driver’s license is Class M.An “8” restriction on your Class M license means that you cannot drive a scooter or any motor-driven cycle that exceeds 50 cc’s. 

Aside from licensing laws, you need to follow other rules under Pennsylvania’s scooter laws. These include strictly wearing eye protection and wearing a helmet, especially if you are below 21 years old.

do i need a motorcycle license for a 150cc scooter

6. Illinois

Do you need a motorcycle license to drive a scooter in Illinois? Illinois also imposes stricter rules compared to other U.S. states. Scooters are categorized as motor-driven cycles, and you must have a Class L or M license to drive one.

It would be best if you were at least 16 to get a motorcycle rider learner’s permit. In which case, you must complete a driver education program and, at the same time, enroll yourself in a training course for motorcycle riders.

You should wear a transparent face shield or eye protector when driving. Your scooter’s headlight must be visible at a distance of 500 feet. In contrast, the tail light must be visible at a distance ranging between 100 and 600 feet.

You should register your scooter, and you must get liability insurance for it.

Illinois Safety Courses for Scooter and Motorcycle Riders

There are four types of safety courses for scooter and motorcycle riders in Illinois. These are the Basic Course, the Intermediate Course, the Basic-Plus Course, and the Advanced Courses.

Basic Course:

This course includes classroom training for eight hours and on-bike training for 12 hours. It teaches basic skills for driving vehicles falling under the motorcycle category. Those who finish the course may qualify for a waived written exam and an insurance discount.

Intermediate Course:

The Intermediate Course teaches riding skills and safety measures to prevent road accidents. If you successfully complete the course, your written exam and on-cycle exam may both be waived.

Basic-Plus Course:

You may take the 8.5-hour Basic-Plus Course after you have completed both the Basic and Intermediate courses. By this time, you should have already obtained a Class L or M license. You must also have your own bike. Otherwise, you should have obtained written permission to use a bike owned by another person.

Advanced Courses:

The Advanced Courses consist of two courses that each lasts for 8.5 hours. The topic concentrates on advanced skills such as braking skills and looking out for other bikers.

Illinois Learner’s Permit and Driver’s License

If you’re at least 18 years old, your learner’s permit’s validity is 18 months only. But if you are below 18, the validity is for 24 months.

This translates to the fact that if you are 18 years old or above, you may already bring your latest driver’s license with you in the same manner that you may take all the necessary tests and pay the fees. But if you complete the above-mentioned courses, there is a likelihood that the tests will be waived.

Once you obtain your motorcycle license for scooter, you must remember to renew it as required. In most cases, if not all, there’s no need to take exams for license renewal. 

Other Illinois Scooter Requirements

Scooter drivers have to bring the following when travelling:

  • Insurance;
  • Protective face shield or eyewear;
  • Long pants because it is unlawful to wear a skirt or a pair of short pants when scooter-driving in Illinois;
  • Closed-finger gloves;
  • Long-sleeve shirt or gloves; and
  • Boots or any other footwear that isn’t made of cloth or canvas.

Aside from the above-mentioned rules, there are informal rules governing scooter drivers in Chicago. These include the following:

  • Never touch someone else’s bike without permission from the owner;
  • If and when you bumped into a disabled biker, always offer assistance even if it’s only for moral support;
  • Always acknowledge other scooter drivers you see on the road; and
  • Greet them either by waving using your left hand or by nodding.

Conclusion – Do You Need a Motorcycle License for a Scooter?

You need a license, or a variation of it, to drive a scooter in most U.S. states. Some states treat scooters and motorcycles the same. Some states have a distinct type of license for scooters. And some states only require you to have a normal driver’s license.

In this article, we looked at the scooter licensing laws for the following states:

  • California
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Pennsylvania
  • Illinois

Some states allow scooter drivers to just have a regular driver’s license. In which case, you may lawfully drive a two-, three-, or four-wheel vehicle. But some states strictly require you to obtain a license specifically for driving motorcycles.

Therefore, before you bring your scooter on the road, make sure that you are familiar with your area’s scooter laws. That way, you can prevent road violations and accidents.

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