Do You Need a License to Drive a Motorized Scooter?

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Motorized scooters have become a popular topic of conversation in the last year due to a budding rideshare industry. Rideshare scooters such as those from Bird and LimeBike are available in many states, where riders can rent them for low prices and drop them off anywhere. Rideshare scooters are technically electric, not motorized; however, Florida law classifies them the same. Here’s what you need to know before hopping on your motorized scooter in the Sunshine State.

Florida’s Definition of a Motorized Scooter

Motorcycles, bicycles, mopeds, and scooters are all different vehicle types in the eyes of Florida law. A motorized bicycle will not have the same laws as a motorized scooter. It’s important to correctly classify your vehicle according to the legal definitions to obey the right set of laws. The Florida Statutes define a motorized scooter as a vehicle without a seat or saddle that travels on a maximum of three wheels and goes no faster than 30 miles per hour on flat ground. There are no requirements for the type of power; thus, electric and motorized scooters are one and the same under Florida law.

Driver’s License Requirements

Yes, you do need a valid driver’s license in Florida to operate a motorized scooter. Any license type (Class A, B, C, D, or E) is acceptable as long as it is free from suspensions or revocations. However, you do not need to register the motorized scooter with the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles division. You may purchase (or rent) the motorized scooter and start riding right away if you have a driver’s license. Note that these rules differ with motorized bikes. You do not need a driver’s license to operate a motorized bicycle in Florida, although you do need to be at least 16 years old.

Do You Need a Helmet?

If you’re operating or riding as a passenger on a motorized scooter under the age of 16, you need to wear a helmet while doing so. Florida law mandates the use of helmets for all motorized scooter riders under 16. If you’re over this age, you may operate a motorized scooter without a helmet, although doing so increases your risk of a serious head or brain injury in the event of an accident. Always wear a helmet before riding a motorized scooter, anywhere and at any age, to help prevent a major injury in a collision.

Where Can You Ride?

The law limits the places you may lawfully go on a motorized scooter in Florida, since these are technically not street-legal vehicles. You may not ride your scooter on public roads or sidewalks. This means you may only ride on private roads within the state. Riding your motorized scooter somewhere you aren’t allowed to could result in a traffic citation and fines. If your motorized scooter has a seat or saddle, it’s technically a “motor scooter” and you can ride on public roads. However, you may not ride on sidewalks or highways.

If your motorized scooter is actually a motor scooter by law, you must register the vehicle and obtain a title. You also need to be at least 16 and have a driver’s license. If your engine is over 50 cubic centimeters in volume, you have a motorcycle, not a motor scooter. You may take a motorcycle on public roads and highways. You must be at least 16, have a special motorcycle license, and wear a helmet (at least until you’re 21) to operate a motorcycle in the state of Florida.

Understanding and obeying Florida’s motorized scooter statutes can keep you safe and on the right side of the law. Before you take off on your motorized scooter or other vehicle, make sure you’re following all applicable laws for a safe, fun, and ticket-free ride.