Are electric scooters legal in NYC? If you’ve spent significant time in the city, then you likely know the answer is “yes.” Scooters are a popular way to get around in a place as crowded as New York City, but it can be confusing about who can ride which kinds of scooters. Electric scooter laws, which can be used by just about anyone, are especially confusing.
Morelli Law wants to clear the air about New York scooter laws, so you know what you need to do before you ride. This will keep you from getting ticketed for riding illegally and from getting nailed with accusations of liability for the accident.
Electric Scooter Laws in New York
Electric scooters can be rented all over New York City and have similar laws to bicycles. Electric scooter laws also cover electric bicycles. There are several restrictions about where you can operate these.
- They must be driven on the street, not on a sidewalk
- You cannot use them on a street with a speed limit above 30 mph
- Municipalities can place further limitations on their use
- They cannot be driven at a speed greater than 15 mph
Unlike gas scooters and mopeds, riders do NOT have to carry a driver’s license or motorcycle license. They don’t have to register their vehicles either. However, riders have to be at least 16 years old before they can use one legally.
16- and 17-year-old riders must wear a helmet while riding, as well as anyone using an electric scooter or bicycle for work. Electric bikes that can go beyond 20 mph require all riders to wear a helmet. We recommend that all riders wear one to protect themselves from the serious risk of death after an accident.
What Happens if The Rider Is Underage and Crashes?
Electric scooters can be ridden without a license by minors 16 years and older. So what happens if they get into an accident that’s their fault? Can they get a ticket? The answer is yes, but their parents or guardian will have to answer the summons on their behalf.
A moped might seem like a gas-powered scooter, but you can sit down. Gas-powered scooters are illegal if the rider rides them while standing. Mopeds are also known under New York law as “limited-use motorcycles”.
There are three classes of mopeds, A, B, and C. They are separated by maximum speed. It’s important to know which class you’re riding because the laws differ for each. All classes must meet the following requirements:
- Rider must have at least a valid driver’s license (see Class A for an exception)
- All mopeds must be registered and insured
- They must have a headlight that’s always on during use
- All riders must wear a helmet and wear eye protection
Now let’s look at the differences.
Class C mopeds cannot go faster than 20 mph. While using one, you must stay in the right lane or shoulder unless you are turning left. Safety inspections are not required for Class C mopeds.
Class B mopeds have a top speed of between 20 and 30 mph. Like Class C, you must stay in the right lane or shoulder unless you’re making a left turn. Safety inspections are not required, but they are recommended.
This is the most restrictive class. Class A mopeds top out between 30 and 40 mph. You may ride in all lanes of traffic on a Class A moped. You must also possess a motorcycle permit or a license. A standard driver’s license isn’t enough. Annual inspections are required.
Class A mopeds are a slight step down from traditional motorcycles. Any two-wheeled seated vehicle that goes faster than 40 mph is a motorcycle and must follow the motorcycle laws of New York.
Vehicles That Aren’t Scooters
There are some vehicles that are illegal to drive even though they are similar in power and size to scooters. The following vehicles cannot be driven in New York:
- Gas-powered bicycles
- High-speed electric bicycles
- Golf carts
- Mini-bikes and dirt-bikes
- Gas-powered scooters where the rider stands during operation
Should I Get Insurance Before Riding a Scooter?
Getting insurance coverage before doing any risky activity, including riding a scooter, is always a good idea. For e-scooters, this may be harder than you think. A lot of the rental companies have clauses that place all the liability of a crash onto the rider.
Not all insurance policies will cover e-scooter or moped crashes either. If you have auto insurance and want to drive a scooter around New York City, speak with your insurance agent about whether your policy applies and if you can get electric scooter insurance.
If it doesn’t, and you get into a crash, you could be responsible for covering the costs of your injuries on your own.
What Should I Do After a Scooter Crash?
An accident on a scooter is just like any other accident. First, call 911 to report the accident and get medical care. You should do this even if you feel uninjured so you can give a report to the officer and get a checkup.
While you’re waiting, take photos of the scene, injuries, and damage to property. If there are witnesses, try to get their contact information. Do not discuss any accusation of fault with the other driver, nor blame yourself for the accident.
After you’ve spoken with the police and seen a doctor, speak with one of our scooter accident attorneys at Morelli Law. You could be eligible for compensation for your injuries. Call now to learn your legal options.