Florida’s Motor Scooter Laws
Motor Scooter Popularity in Florida
Motor scooters have become extremely popular, for lots of reasons. High gas prices are one, and there’s no doubt that scooters are cheap to ride, especially electric motor scooters. Another is affordability. Though some of the high-end scooters are rather pricey, they are very inexpensive when compared to a car, and the lower-end models and used motor scooters can be real bargains, especially for those in an urban environment that do not want or need the expense and hassle of owning a car. But maybe the biggest reason for the growing popularity of motor scooters is that they’re just plain fun to ride. It’s a motorcycle for those who just don’t want, or are afraid of, the power of a full-sized motorcycle.
Whether it’s electric scooters for kids, or powerful gas powered scooters for adults, sales are booming. The Razor brand scooters are all the rage among the younger set, while nostalgic and beautiful Vespa motor scooters are popular with the more discriminating crowd, especially vintage ones, which can cost plenty.
In Florida, scooters have seen an impressive rise in popularity. The consistently warm weather means they can be used year round. Because they are a natural for cruising the beaches, scooter rentals have popped up everywhere. As in other states, urban commuters often choose a scooter over a bicycle, although some warn that riding a scooter in cities like Miami or Ft. Lauderdale can be an adventure, to say the least.
How Does Florida Define a Motor Scooter?
According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida Statutes has no definition for motor scooters, so they fall under the definition of a motorcycle, which is “any motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground. This term includes autocycle, but excludes a tractor or a moped.”
Motor Scooter Laws In Florida
Many people seem to believe that motor scooter’s aren’t unregulated, but that simply isn’t true. There are specific laws that govern the operation of motor scooters on public streets and property in Florida, and violating them can result in considerable fines. And with the growing popularity of motor scooters in the Sunshine State, and the inevitable rise in accidents involving them, many leading to serious injury and even death, police departments across the state are cracking down on those who ignore the law, especially in the traditional spring break towns. If you’re going to ride a scooter or a moped in Florida, you’d better know the laws, and follow them, if you want to avoid fines and possible confiscation of your ride. Here is a brief overview of the laws pertaining to the operation of motor scooters in the state of Florida.
- If a two or three-wheeled vehicle has a motor that is 50cc or less in size, it is not considered a motorcycle under Florida law. Above that it is, and even stricter laws apply, as well as a motorcycle endorsement.
- Since a motor scooter or moped is still considered to be a motor vehicle, to legally ride one on roadways and streets you must be at least 16 years of age and hold regular driver’s license, Class E, or hold a motorcycle only license. They cannot be operated with a learner’s permit.
- If a motor vehicle of any sort is under the 50cc limit or under two brake horsepower, or is not capable of exceeding 30 MPH on level ground, then it is not necessary for the operator of the vehicle to wear a helmet. However, passengers under the age of 16 are required to wear one.
- Although the law does not require insurance to operate a scooter or a moped, it is probably best to err on the side of caution and have some.
- Florida law states that no vehicle may be ridden on an interstate or highway if it is under 5 BHP, which would be the case for most scooters under 50cc, and a vehicle must be able to maintain a speed of at least 40 MPH, which many scooters can attain and even exceed, but at any rate it is not a good idea to operate a scooter on a highway, it simply isn’t safe.
- It is not legal to ride on the yellow lines between the lanes or to do so to pass stopped traffic.
- Persons under the age of 16 may not operate a scooter with a motor over 150 cc under any circumstances.
- If operating on a roadway at speeds less than the normal traffic speed, a scooter rider must stay as close to the right side edge of the road as safely possible, except when making a left-hand turn, or if road or traffic conditions will not allow it. Otherwise scooter riders are required to follow the same traffic laws as any other vehicle.
- Scooters and mopeds are not allowed to be operated on bicycle or pedestrian lanes.
Do You Need Insurance for a Motor Scooter in Florida?
The law does not require you to carry insurance for a motor scooter in Florida. However, insurance may be a good idea in case you get into an accident. If you are involved in a crash on your motor scooter, you will be financially responsible for the costs of property damage and injuries.
What to Do If You’re Injured in a Motor Scooter Accident
Because motor scooters are significantly smaller than full-size motor vehicles (and therefore harder for some drivers to see), accidents can be quite common. Similar to if you were in a car accident, you shouldn’t talk to anyone other than police officers about how your motor scooter accident occurred. Also, promptly receiving medical attention after your accident is extremely important. You may not notice your injuries right away, or your injuries may seem minor.
If someone’s negligence caused the motor scooter accident, you may be eligible for compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Be sure to speak with a motor scooter accident attorney to discuss your rights after an accident.
Be A Safe Scooter Rider
Scooters are fun and practical, but they can also be quite dangerous, as the rise in accidents has proven. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident while riding a scooter or moped, it’s important to seek professional counsel. Kaire & Heffernan, LLC has extensive experience in this area. For a free and confidential consultation, contact them today.
Photo Credit: S. Alexis Flickr cc
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 15 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for 4 years.
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