Motorized Scooters and the Law
With the increasing numbers of motorized scooters popping-up on our city roadways, the Oxnard Police
Department’s Traffic Unit has received a flood of inquiries regarding their operation.
Many of the inquiries are from parents who are planning to buy their kids scooters for Christmas
and many are from owners who just want to be safe. The following is a synopsis of the current laws
governing motorized scooters. As you can see, next to each of the bulleted paragraphs is the
applicable California Vehicle Code section. Simply “click” on the highlighted
"V.C." section and you will be directed to the appropriate California Vehicle Code
section: The operation of motorized scooters is codified in the California Vehicle Code,
Article 5, sections 21220 -23330.
» 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
Operators must have a valid driver license or instruction permit and the operator must be at least
16 years of age. V.C. 12804.9
and V.C. 21235.
» Maximum Speed
A motorized scooter may not be propelled at a speed in excess of 15 MPH. V.C.
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 Class II bike lane. V.C. 21235(b);
890.4 Streets & Highway Code
(bike lanes defined).
» 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.
» 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:
» 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.
» Brake, Speed, Helmet, Age of Rider, Passengers, Handlebars, Sidewalks
The operator of a motorized scooter SHALL NOT do any of the following:
Operate a motorized scooter when the operator is under the age of 16 years old.
Operate a motorized scooter without wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet per V.C.
(Roller-Blade and Skateboard helmets do not meet the requirement).
Operate a motorized scooter carrying any package, bundle, or article that prevents the operator from keeping
at least one hand upon the handlebars. Operate a motorized scooter with any passengers in addition to the operator.
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. Operate a motorized scooter upon a sidewalk.
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. 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.
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