So, “Are Electric Scooters Street Legal in the U.S.?” you beckon every web article to find a phenomenal answer to your burning question.
Luckily, I’m here to reveal it to you:
Yes, the good news is that scooters are street-legal in 38 states, and while they are not street-legal in 10 states, there is hope for further legalization in the future.
But, even in the states where electric scooters are street-legal, there are other laws to be aware of before you step up and go riding.
But don’t despair – I’ll uncover everything about the hows and whys (keep scrolling)…
Table of Contents
- Electric scooters are a hot commodity right now, with people using them for everything from getting to work to running errands.
- In most cases, electric scooters are legal as long as you follow the same rules as you would for riding a bicycle.
- There are a few states where electric scooters are explicitly illegal.
- You should always check with local regulations to make sure electric scooters are allowed.
Where in the U.S. are Electric Scooters Street Legal?
To continue, “Are Electric Scooters Street Legal in the U.S.” isn’t a simple yes-or-no answer. There’s more to it…
Electric scooters are now popular, providing a fun and stylish way to get around without making an overly expensive investment.
Still, they aren’t without their controversy, and privately owning an electric scooter isn’t even legal in many countries.
If you’re hoping for scooter laws by state, you’re in the right place. The 38 states where electric scooters are deemed street-legal are:
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
However, there are ADDITIONAL laws to be aware of in several of these states. The states with additional laws (and what those laws are) are as follows:
- California: Except on freeways or expressways
- Colorado: Except on the interstate or limited-access roads
- Connecticut: You have to stay to the right
- Indiana: You have to stay to the right
- Maine: You have to stay to the right
- Massachusetts: Except on the interstate or limited-access roads and must stick to the right
- New York: Except on the interstate or limited-access roads
- Virginia: You have to stay to the right
Where in the U.S. Are Electric Scooters Illegal?
The 10 states where electric scooters are NOT street-legal are:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
There is potential to make electric scooters LEGAL in these states in the future, especially as this form of a motor vehicle is still fairly new in terms of popularity and legality.
For example, Michigan electric scooter laws are currently under revision, and it is likely that you will see them becoming legal electric motor vehicles in the very near future.
Can You Ride Electric Scooters on the Sidewalk?
While electric scooters are street-legal in most states, they still need to follow all of the SAME rules as bicycles.
That includes not riding them on the sidewalk, as it can be DANGEROUS for pedestrians who are walking on the sidewalk and may not expect a motorized vehicle to come at them from behind.
However, there are FIVE states where it is legal to operate electric scooters on the sidewalk. These states are:
- Rhode Island
Pro Tip: If electric scooters are street-legal in your city, it’s important to stay current on any additional laws or regulations that may be in effect.
What’s the Legal Difference Between Rented and Privately Owned Scooters?
In most states, electric scooters are street-legal, whether rented or privately owned.
However, it’s IMPORTANT to note that electric scooter rental companies usually have their own safety regulations and insurance requirements for riders.
For example, electric scooter rental companies typically require riders to be 18 years or older, and they may have a minimum age of 16 or 21, depending on the state and local laws.
Many states also make it law that you MUST rent an electric scooter and cannot privately own one.
It’s also important to note that electric scooter rental companies REQUIRE that riders wear helmets while riding.
But privately owned electric scooters don’t usually come with this requirement.
Furthermore, rental companies are HIGHLY REGULATED and must have insurance covering any damage or injury caused by electric scooter misuse.
ALSO READ: Can Mobility Scooters Go on Dual Carriageways?
What are the Federal Safety Standards for Electric Scooters?
The federal government currently does NOT have any official electric scooter regulations (similar to electric skateboards).
It is up to individual states and cities to decide their electric scooter laws.
However, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does offer some guidelines for electric scooter safety through the Consumer Product Safety Act .
The CPSC recommends that e-scooters obtain a minimum speed setting of 15 mph, and a battery indicator light to alert riders when the electric scooter is running low on power.
The CPSC also requires an electric brake to be installed to make sure that the rider can safely stop the electric scooter.
They also strongly recommend that electric scooter riders wear helmets while riding these vehicles, as they can be dangerous and cause serious injury if not used properly.
Street Laws and Speed Limits for Electric Scooters
According to active transport researcher Dr. Lee Roberts, “The potential of an e-bicycle or an e-scooter as a casual mode of transportation is what makes it the most compelling.” 
Yet, the question remains, “is it legal?”
Although electric scooters are usually street-legal in the U.S., there are also laws and SPEED LIMITS that you must follow.
Most states have a maximum speed limit of 15 mph (the same as the federal government’s recommendation).
Some states may have even LOWER speed limits, so it’s important to check your state’s electric scooter laws before you hit the road.
The law often bans electric scooters on high-speed streets, which means 35mph or above.
In most cases, electric scooters should stay on bike paths OR the right side of the road to ensure that they don’t interfere with traffic.
Additionally, electric scooter riders must still obey all traffic laws and regulations, just like they would with ANY other motorized vehicle.
That includes following speed limits, using turn signals, and stopping at stop signs or red lights.
If you’re the visual type, I discovered an excellent video on electric scooters and the law:
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Electric Scooters Require a License?
No, electric scooters do not require a license in the U.S. However, rental electric scooter companies usually require riders to be 18 years or older and have valid driver’s licenses .
Do Electric Scooters Require Registration?
No, electric scooters do not require registration in the U.S.
However, North Carolina is the exception to this rule as they are the only state that requires DMV registration if you want to ride an electric scooter.
Do Electric Scooters Require Insurance?
No, electric scooters do not require insurance in the U.S. However, electric scooter rental companies typically require riders to have proof of insurance before using their electric scooters.
What’s the Minimum Age for Riding an Electric Scooter?
The minimum age for electric scooter riders varies from state to state.
In most cases, electric scooter rental companies require riders to be 16 years or older, but some states have a minimum age of 12.
Do You Need a Helmet to Ride an Electric Scooter?
Rental electric scooter companies always require riders to wear helmets while riding electric scooters, but privately owned electric scooters don’t usually come with this requirement.
However, legislation highly recommends that electric scooter riders wear helmets for safety reasons.
So, “Are Electric Scooters Street Legal in the U.S.?” Let me give you the nutshell version:
Electric scooters are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. While they are generally street legal, it is important to CHECK your state’s electric scooter laws before you hit the road.
Most states have a maximum electric scooter speed limit of 15 mph, and electric scooter riders must still obey all traffic laws and regulations like ANY OTHER motorized vehicle.
Also, legislation recommends that electric scooter riders wear helmets for safety reasons.
Ultimately, electric scooters have the potential to be a great way to get around. Still, it is important to understand the laws and regulations to ride SAFELY and legally.
1. CPSC.gov [Internet]. CPSC.gov. 2019. Available from: https://www.cpsc.gov/
2. Esq ASK. Do You Need a License for an Electric Scooter? [Internet]. The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers. 2022 [cited 2023 Jan 14]. Available from: https://www.kryderlaw.com/blog/do-you-need-a-license-for-an-electric-scooter/#
3. z5076905. E-scooters could make cities better, so why are we still outlawing them? [Internet]. UNSW Newsroom. 2022 [cited 2023 Jan 14]. Available from: https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/social-affairs/e-scooters-could-make-cities-better-so-why-are-we-still-outlawing-them