Just because e-scooters are new doesn’t mean you could ride them without a license. Indeed, California’s Vehicle Code (CVC) clearly states that anyone who wants to ride an e-scooter must have a valid driver’s license. The only exception to this rule is a new driver who has a learner’s permit.
So, as long as you have one of these licenses, you can legally rent and ride an e-scooter in Cali. Even if you own an e-scooter, you don’t have to register it with the DMV.
Just be sure what you’re using truly is an e-scooter before riding around town. One tricky feature about e-scooters is they could resemble other micro-mobility vehicles.
For instance, many people get e-scooters mixed up with motorized bicycles (aka mopeds). While e-scooters don’t require special licenses, many other vehicles do. It’s imperative you check with the California DMV’s website to verify which device you have and the proper licensing procedure.
Currently, the CVC has a clear definition of e-scooters in § 407.5. According to this law, e-scooters must have two wheels, handlebars, an electric motor, and a floorboard. While e-scooters could have a seat, this feature is optional. All e-scooters must not exceed 15 mph.
By contrast, mopeds have an electric motor plus automatic transmission. These two or three-wheeled vehicles will also have no more than 4 gross brake horsepower. According to California DMV, moped riders need to have a motorcycle license and be over the age of 16. Unlike e-scooters, adults have to wear a helmet while riding mopeds.
If you’re interested in learning the distinctions between e-scooters, mopeds, and other micro-mobility vehicles, be sure to read through this infographic put together by the California DMV.