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California Electric Scooter Laws

The California Vehicle Code (CVC) sets forth the laws the govern the operation of electric scooters. Below are the Vehicle Code sections which apply to motorized scooters.

California Vehicle Code §407.5(a)

A “motorized scooter” is any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, has a floorboard that is designed to be stood upon when riding, and is powered by an electric motor. This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion.

California Vehicle Code §21221

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 by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000 ), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1 ), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000 ), except those provisions which, by their very nature, can have no application.

California Vehicle Code §21221.5

Notwithstanding Section 21221, it is unlawful for any person to operate a motorized scooter upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug. Any person arrested for a violation of this section may request to have a chemical test made of the person's blood or breath for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content of that person's blood pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 23612, and, if so requested, the arresting officer shall have the test performed. A conviction of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250).

California Vehicle Code §21223

(a) Every motorized scooter operated upon any highway during darkness shall be equipped with the following:

(1) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a lamp emitting a white light which, while the motorized scooter is in motion, illuminates the highway in front of the operator and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the motorized scooter.

(2) Except as provided in subdivision (c), a red reflector on the rear that is visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.

(3) A white or yellow reflector on each side visible from the front and rear of the motorized scooter from a distance of 200 feet.

(b) A lamp or lamp combination, emitting a white light, attached to the operator and visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the motorized scooter, may be used in lieu of the lamp required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (a).

(c) A red reflector, or reflectorized material meeting the requirements of Section 25500, attached to the operator and visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle, may be used in lieu of the reflector required by paragraph (2) of subdivision (a).

California Vehicle Code §21224

(a) A person operating a motorized scooter is not subject to the provisions of this code relating to financial responsibility, registration, and license plate requirements, and, for those purposes, a motorized scooter is not a motor vehicle.

(b) A motorized scooter is exempt from the equipment requirements in Division 12 (commencing with Section 24000 ), except for Sections 24003 and 27400 , Article 4 (commencing with Section 27450 ) of Chapter 5 of Division 12, and Section 27602 .

(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), any motorized scooter may be equipped with equipment authorized by Division 12 (commencing with Section 24000 ).

(d) Any motorized scooter equipped with lighting equipment that is authorized by Division 12 (commencing with Section 24000 ) shall meet the lighting requirements in Article 1 (commencing with Section 24250 ) of Chapter 2 of Division 12 for that equipment.

California Vehicle Code §21225

This article does not prevent a local authority, by ordinance, from regulating the registration of motorized scooters and the parking and operation of motorized scooters on pedestrian or bicycle facilities and local streets and highways, if that regulation is not in conflict with this code.

California Vehicle Code §21228

Any person operating a motorized scooter upon a highway 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 under the following situations:

(a) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

(b) When 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 in Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 21950).

(c)

(1) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes, which make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or right edge of the roadway, subject to Section 21656.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1), a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a motorized scooter and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

(d) Any person operating a motorized scooter upon a highway that carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes may operate the motorized scooter as near the left-hand curb or left edge of that roadway as practicable.

However, when preparing for a right turn, the operator shall stop and dismount as close as practicable to the left-hand curb or left edge of the highway and complete the turn by crossing the roadway on foot, subject to the restrictions placed on pedestrians in Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 21950).

California Vehicle Code §21229

(a) Whenever a class II bicycle lane has been established on a roadway, any person operating a motorized scooter upon the roadway shall ride within the bicycle lane, except that the person may move out of the lane under any of the following situations:

(1) When overtaking and passing another vehicle or pedestrian within the lane or when about to enter the lane if the overtaking and passing cannot be done safely within the lane.

(2) When 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 in Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 21950).

(3) When reasonably necessary to leave the bicycle lane to avoid debris or other hazardous conditions.

(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

(b) No person operating a motorized scooter shall leave a bicycle lane until the movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided in Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 22100) in the event that any vehicle may be affected by the movement.

California Vehicle Code §21230

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a motorized scooter may be operated on a bicycle path or trail or bikeway, unless the local authority or the governing body of a local agency having jurisdiction over that path, trail, or bikeway prohibits that operation by ordinance.

California Vehicle Code §21235

The operator of a motorized scooter shall not do any of the following:

(a) 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.

(b) Operate a motorized scooter on a highway with a speed limit in excess of 25 miles per hour unless the motorized scooter is operated within a Class II or Class IV bikeway, except that a local authority may, by ordinance or resolution, authorize the operation of a motorized scooter outside of a Class II or Class IV bikeway on a highway with a speed limit of up to 35 miles per hour. The 15 mile per hour maximum speed limit for the operation of a motorized scooter specified in Section 22411 applies to the operation of a motorized scooter on all highways, including bikeways, regardless of a higher speed limit applicable to the highway.

(c) Operate a motorized scooter without wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards described in Section 21212, if the operator is under 18 years of age.

(d) Operate a motorized scooter without a valid driver’s license or instruction permit.

(e) Operate a motorized scooter with any passengers in addition to the operator.

(f) Operate a motorized scooter carrying any package, bundle, or article that prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.

(g) Operate a motorized scooter upon a sidewalk, except as may be necessary to enter or leave adjacent property.

(h) 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.

(i) Leave a motorized scooter lying on its side on any sidewalk, or park a motorized scooter on a sidewalk in any other position, so that there is not an adequate path for pedestrian traffic.

(j) Attach the motorized scooter or himself or herself while on the roadway, by any means, to any other vehicle on the roadway.

California Vehicle Code §22411

No person shall operate a motorized scooter at a speed in excess of 15 miles per hour.

The most common e-scooter injury our personal injury law firm sees? Broken tibia & fibula. Sooo common we call it the “Tib-Fib Special.” The scooter’s brakes fail or the throttle sticks… You put your leg down to try to stop… Snap Snap… You just go the Tib-Fib Special!

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