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Motorized Scooters

The Irvine Police Department has been receiving inquiries from the public concerning the new law on motorized scooters, which went into effect on January 1, 2005. The operation of motorized scooters is codified in the California Vehicle Code, Article 5, sections 21220 -23330. The following is a synopsis of the new law.

Definition of a motor scooter
Any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, is designed to be stood or sat upon by the operator, and is powered by an electric motor, or gasoline two-stroke engine and is capable of propelling the device with or without human propulsion. V.C. 407.5

License Requirements
A driver’s license or instruction permit is required to operate a motorized scooter, per V.C. 21235(d)

Maximum Speed
A motorized scooter may not be propelled at a speed in excess of 15 MPH. The operator of a motorized scooter shall not operate it on a highway (which also includes city streets) with a speed limit in excess of 25 MPH, unless the motorized scooter is operated within a bike lane. V.C. 22411

Registration, Insurance and License Requirements
A motorized scooter is not required to be registered and no proof of financial responsibility (vehicle insurance) is required. V.C. 21224

Note: Your insurance policies may not provide coverage for accidents involving the use of these scooters. To determine if coverage is provided, you should contact your insurance company or agent.

Must Comply With the Vehicle Code
Every person operating a motorized scooter upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle ... including but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs. V.C. 21221

Night Provisions / Equipment
Motorized scooters operated during hours of darkness are required to have the proper lighting equipment and reflectors. Required is a headlight visible 300 feet to the front, red reflector visible 500 feet to the rear and white or yellow side reflectors visible 200 feet. V.C. 21223

Rules of the Road
A motor scooter traveling at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or right edge of the roadway except when: V.C. 21228

Overtaking and passing another vehicle
Preparing for a left turn, the operator shall stop and dismount as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or right edge of the roadway and complete the turn by crossing the roadway on foot, subject to the restrictions placed on pedestrians.
Necessary to avoid unusual conditions in the roadway.

Bike Lane
If a bike lane exists, any person operating a motorized scooter upon the roadway shall ride within the bicycle lane except for provisions in V.C. 21228. V.C. 21229

Brake, Speed, Helmet, Age of Rider, Passengers, Handlebars, Sidewalks
The operator of a motorized scooter shall not do any of the following:

  1. Operate a motorized scooter when the operator is under the age of 16 years old.
  2. Operate a motorized scooter without wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet per 21212 VC. (Roller Blade and Skateboard helmets do not meet the requirement).
  3. Operate a motorized scooter carrying any package, bundle, or article that prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.
  4. Operate a motorized scooter with any passengers in addition to the operator.
  5. Operate a motorized scooter unless it is equipped with a brake that will enable the operator to make a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
  6. Operate a motorized scooter upon a sidewalk.
  7. Operate a motorized scooter on the highway with the handlebars raised so that the operator must elevate his or her hands above the level of his or her shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area.
  8. Leave a motorized scooter on its side on any sidewalk, or parked on a sidewalk in any other position, so that there is not an adequate path for pedestrian traffic. V.C. 21235
  9. Attach the motorized scooter or himself/herself while on the roadway, by any means, to any other vehicle on the roadway.

The above listed laws went into effect on January 1, 2005 and will be enforced by the officers of the Irvine Police Department.