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What is a Street Legal Electric Scooter?

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Many cities in California have embraced electric scooters. It’s not rare to see residents and tourists going around San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles with their Bird, Spin or Lime electric scooters. Most of these cities allow riders to pick up and park their scooters anywhere. While these vehicles are appealing because of their convenience, it is essential to know what the law states about them.

Based on the Federal law Register Volume 68, a street legal electric scooter is defined as a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with functioning pedals and an electric motor with less than 750 Watts of power. It should also have a maximum speed that is less than 20 mph when being ridden on a paved level surface. If your electric scooter falls under the criteria mentioned, then it’s street legal.

Electric scooters within this category generally don’t need registration and riders who drive them usually don’t need a license to operate one. However, it is essential to know that the laws regarding this vehicle vary from state to state. California has a few specific details about electric scooters and requirements to drive them.

California Motorized Scooter Laws: What to Know

An electric scooter can be referred to as a motorized scooter as well. The state of California defines this vehicle as having the following:

  • Two wheels
  • Handlebars
  • A floorboard that can be stood on when a rider is operating it
  • A motor

Under California law, an electric scooter can also have a driver’s seat but is not expounded on as much compared to the other features mentioned above.

Street legal scooters can be operated by individuals with any class of driver’s license. This rule means that you don’t need to get a specific license to ride a scooter. They also don’t need registration from the DMV or have license plates.

If you are an operator of a motorized scooter, know that you must also adhere to all traffic and safety laws like any other vehicle. Here are a few specific rules on scooters that you must know that are established in California:

  • Riders are required to wear a helmet that has passed the standards of the U.S. Department of Transportation at all times.
  • Roads that have a speed limit greater than 25 mph prohibit scooter-riding unless these roads have dedicated bike lanes.
  • Motorized scooters should not be operated on sidewalks.
  • Drivers are the only ones allowed to ride the scooter. No passengers allowed.

How Fast Electric Scooters Can Go in California

It is also essential to understand that electric scooters have speed limits in California. The average motorized scooter usually has a maximum speed of 15 to 22 mph, while other scooters can go faster than the average range.

Keep in mind that motorized scooters in California should only be driven up to 15 mph. One exception to this is when seniors or disabled individuals are operating mobility scooters which can be driven up to 30 mph.

Common Electric Scooter Accidents

Many companies have introduced their electric scooters in various cities in California. A lot of them have been on the road before local traffic laws were changed to accommodate them. But even though they offer many benefits, risks and injuries are still possible when riding these vehicles.

There are a lot of injuries that you can sustain from riding electric scooters. Some of the most common ones are the following:

  • Bruises and cuts
  • Sprains
  • Concussions
  • Broken bones
  • Neck or back injuries
  • Spinal cord damage

There have been 249 emergency visits from 2017 to 2018 that have been related to electric scooter accidents in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Many of these cases suffered from bone fractures, dislocations, soft-tissue injuries, and laceration, to name a few. Majority of the victims sustained these injuries because they had fallen off their scooter, while others had gotten hit by another vehicle or collided with an object.

Seek Electric Scooter Accident Attorneys

Victims need to know how to go about the situation when electric scooter-related accidents occur. Though the riders themselves may be at fault for their accidents, there are other cases wherein the accident was caused by another party such as a defective product from the scooter manufacturer. Construction sites with poorly placed signs causing unnecessary road hazards can also be considered as a third party involved in accidents. In any of these cases, the best thing to do is seek experienced electric scooter attorneys in Los Angeles.

Know that one of the biggest mistakes victims make when they experience an accident is not seeking proper legal representation. They tend to rush in pursuing the claim on their own without realizing the distinct disadvantage they have against the party in question. The other party will most likely hire a legal professional to settle their case. Scooter companies are also protected by defense lawyers and insurance adjusters who understand specific technicalities that may challenge your claim. If you have a seasoned lawyer by your side, you are ensured to have someone who understands product liability, traffic regulations, and other laws and legal processes.

About the Author
Picture of Rodney Mesriani
Rodney Mesriani

Rodney Mesriani is the principal partner of the Los Angeles and Santa Monica based Mesriani Law Group. He specializes in personal injury and employment law while also being an accomplished litigator and trial attorney. Rodney is an aggressive negotiator and a well-known and respected attorney in the areas of practice he specializes in.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University Northridge before attending Southwestern School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate. While being an accomplished personal injury and employment lawyer, Rodney Mesriani has made it a point to attend numerous State Sponsored MCLE events and seminars over the years as a law practitioner to be informed of the latest laws and litigation strategies.



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