In most states, riders must have a driver’s license or an endorsement to operate their motorcycle legally. This definition often applies to all two-wheeled vehicles, including mopeds and scooters.
You could face fines or other legal consequences if you don’t follow the rules or laws regarding licenses and endorsements while operating a scooter or moped.
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When you have a 50cc engine on your scooter, the laws that govern how you can operate the equipment vary by location. Most states require the vehicle to be registered and you to have a motorcycle license or endorsement, but some exceptions apply to a low-speed engine.
What Are the Requirements to Legally Operate a 50cc Scooter Where I Live?
The following chart shows what is required to ride a 50cc scooter where you currently live as of March 2023. Please note that these rules are subject to change at any time by the state government, so always perform your due diligence by checking with your DMV or an equivalent office.
It should be noted that highways are not the same as freeways or interstates. Mopeds and scooters with a 50cc engine are typically banned from high-speed roads with speed limits that exceed the vehicle’s maximum capacity by 25 mph or more.
|State||License Requirements||Allowed on Highway||Title and registration are necessary if the scooter meets the state’s definition of a motorcycle. Those under the age 18 must wear a helmet.|
|Alabama||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Insurance needed to operate vehicle. Helmet and other protective gear required.|
|Alaska||Class M1 License or Endorsement||Allowed||Must register and insure the vehicle. Protective eyewear required.|
|Arizona||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Registration and insurance required. Must wear a helmet under age 18.|
|Arkansas||Class M or MD License||Allowed||Liability insurance required. No passengers allowed.|
|California||M1 or M2 License||Allowed||Liability insurance and helmets are required.|
|Colorado||Driver’s License or Permit||Allowed||Registration, liability insurance, and eye protection mandatory.|
|Connecticut||Driver’s License or Permit||Allowed||Must wear a helmet and operate in the right lane.|
|Delaware||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Banned||Must be 16.|
|Florida||Class E Driver’s License or Motorcycle License||Banned||Must be 16.|
|Georgia||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Must wear a helmet at all times.|
|Hawaii||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Must achieve speed of 35 mph or faster||Helmet with a chin strap required to operate (under 18). Safety goggles or a windshield required. Registration and liability insurance is mandatory.|
|Idaho||Driver’s License or Permit||Allowed||Liability insurance required if vehicle meets FMVSS for motorcycles.|
|Illinois||Driver’s License or Permit||Allowed||Must be titled and registered. Liability insurance is mandatory. Eye protection is required.|
|Indiana||Driver’s License of Class B MDC Endorsement||Only if Highway Is 35 mph or Less||Must be registered. Helmet required under age 18. Eye protection mandatory for all.|
|Iowa||Driver’s License or Permit||Must achieve speed of 40 mph||Must be registered and insured.|
|Kansas||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Minors must wear a helmet.|
|Kentucky||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Must wear a helmet if under age 21.|
|Louisiana||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Those with a permit must stay within three miles of home. Liability insurance and a helmet are required.|
|Maine||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Registration required. Must stay on the farthest right-hand side of the road. Liability insurance is mandatory. Helmets required for those under 18.|
|Maryland||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Requires title and insurance to operate. Helmet and eye protection are mandatory.|
|Massachusetts||Driver’s License or Permit||Banned||Registration and wearing a helmet are required.|
|Michigan||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Banned||Registration is required and renews every 36 months. Helmets required for anyone under age 19.|
|Minnesota||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Banned||Must be titled and registered. Liability insurance is necessary. Minors must wear a helmet.|
|Mississippi||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Liability insurance is required. Helmets are mandatory.|
|Missouri||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||No insurance or safety equipment required for mopeds.|
|Montana||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Must operate on the far right. Helmets required for minors.|
|Nebraska||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Must achieve speed of 31 mph or faster||Any vehicle without pedals is considered a motorcycle.|
|Nevada||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Riders must wear a helmet. Registration is required for public use.|
|New Hampshire||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Must be registered.|
|New Jersey||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Registration and liability insurance are mandatory. Must wear a helmet.|
|New Mexico||Driver’s License or Permit||Allowed||Title and registration are necessary if the scooter meets the state’s definition of a motorcycle. Those under age 18 must wear a helmet.|
|New York||Driver’s License or Permit||Allowed||Must register and insure a scooter or moped. Helmet and eye protection are mandatory.|
|North Carolina||No License Required||Allowed||Must be registered. Operators must be at least 16 and follow all traffic laws. Helmets are required.|
|North Dakota||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Permits allowed at age 14. Must be registered, titled, and insured. Helmets are required for minors.|
|Ohio||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Must be registered, titled, and tagged. Helmets are required, and the vehicle must have one rearview mirror. Vehicles must operate in the far right lane.|
|Oklahoma||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Banned||Must wear a helmet if under age 18.|
|Oregon||Driver’s License or Permit||Allowed||Registration required. All riders must wear helmets, and passengers are not permitted.|
|Pennsylvania||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Anything without pedals could be classifed as a motorcycle.|
|Rhode Island||Driver’s License or Permit||Banned||Scooter must be registered. Insurance is mandatory. Must wear a helmet if under age 21.|
|South Carolina||Driver’s License or Moped License||Not Permitted||Must register vehicle and obtain license plates.|
|South Dakota||Driver’s License or Permit||Allowed||Needs to be registered and insured. Helmets required for minors. Eye protection or a windscreen is mandatory.|
|Tennessee||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Must wear a helmet, register the scooter, and obtain a title.|
|Texas||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Required to be registered, insured, and tagged. Must pass a safety course to not wear a helmet and provide proof of health insurance.|
|Utah||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Must be registered, titled, and insured. Helmets required for those under age 21.|
|Vermont||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Registration and insurance is required, and helmets are mandatory.|
|Virginia||Driver’s License or Permit||Banned||Must carry valid ID while operating. Scooter needs to be titled and registered. Helmets required for everyone.|
|Washington||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Banned||Must be tagged and registered. Helmets are required.|
|Washington DC||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Banned||Follows motorcycle laws. Liability insurance is required.|
|West Virginia||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Helmets are required. The scooter needs to be titled, insured, and registered.|
|Wisconsin||Driver’s License or Permit||Allowed||Liability insurance is required.|
|Wyoming||Motorcycle License or Endorsement||Allowed||Needs to be registered and insured. Highly recommended to speak with an attorney because of the state’s complex laws.|
How to Get a Motorcycle License or Endorsement?
If you want to get an endorsement for an existing driver’s license, you’ll typically need to pass a safety course or a knowledge exam. Once you have these certificates, you can legally apply for what you need to operate a motorcycle in your state.
Minimum age requirements apply in all states. You can get a permit at 14 or 15, but it can be 17 or 18 in some areas. This requirement often changes, so check to see the current rules where you live.
Some states require written permission from a legal guardian or parent for someone under 17 to apply for a motorcycle permit or license.
You’ll need to complete the same steps as you would for a standard driver’s license to obtain a motorcycle license. That includes taking a vision screening, passing a skills test, and offering proof of identity.
Once you’re licensed or endorsed and have your 50cc scooter, you’ll want to apply for motorcycle insurance (or a moped/scooter policy, if available) that meets the requirements for your state.
Consequences of Getting Pulled Over without a License on a Scooter?
If you ride a 50cc scooter without a license though your state requires it, you may face legal consequences such as:
- Traffic citations
- Points of your driving record
- Criminal charge
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