Don’t miss this comprehensive guide to electric scooter laws in the United States created by Unagi Scooters, including quick reference visuals for where you need to wear helmet, which states require a license, and which states lack regulations
By Trina McManus. With over a decade of writing experience, Trina is Assistant Writer at ESG. She crafts the scripts for videos and ESG Liveshow, writes the monthly eNewsletter, and is responsible for much of the content on the website.
Unagi Scooters, best known for their subscription scooter service and lightweight Unagi Model One, just released a new 2021 guide to electric scooter laws that breaks down everything you need to know, state by state.
No seriously, everything, including the speed limit, where scooters are allowed on the street, where you must ride on the sidewalk, and where DMV registration is required. Let’s start with where electric scooters are allowed.
Where Is It Legal to Ride an Electric Scooter?
In this quick reference map, Unagi has provided the information you need most using symbol- and color-coded keys. You can see where electric scooters are already legal, which states are currently developing laws, and which states haven’t caught on yet.
According to their study, Alaska, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Hawaii, and Nebraska do not have regulations for electric scooters.
For states where electric scooters are legal, check out this graphic that includes states listed by speed limit and where it is illegal to ride on public roads or sidewalks.
One change noted by a thoughtful reader is that it’s illegal to ride on sidewalks in California “except as may be necessary to enter or leave adjacent property” according to Vehicle Code § 21235(g).
Although many people think it’s illegal to ride alongside pedestrians, it is only illegal in 11 states. Sometimes riding on the sidewalk is the safest option given limited road space when traveling with vehicles.
What Does Each State Require to Ride?
No state requires riders by law to wear safety gear in order to operate an electric scooter, however it’s strongly suggested for self-preservation. Helmets are legally required by 10 states, mostly for riders under the age of 18. We think you should wear safety gear at all ages, but it’s not a legal requirement.
We always suggest you wear a helmet on an electric scooter, and that you upgrade to a full-face helmet whenever riding over 15 mph. If you’d like more information on which helmet is best for you, check out our comprehensive helmet guide and peruse our helmet database.
In our study on scooter safety, we found that fewer riders wear helmets on scooters than on bicycles. Accidents involving riders who are not wearing safety gear has lead to the impression that shared scooters are unsafe, but currently states are leaving it up to individuals to safeguard themselves.
In the graphic below, you can see states organized by age, helmet, registration and license requirements.
Where Can You Find More Information?
The new, completely overhauled guide to electric scooter laws includes the many changes over time as well as an even great number of fundamental improvements to the clarity, summarization, original source reporting, and distinguishing between all scooters and shared scooters—and much more.
Check out Unagi’s comprehensive guide to electric scooter laws here.
On electric scooter laws and the changing landscape of micromobility, we echo Unagi’s statement below:
Thanks, Unagi Scooters, for the sweet guide to scooter laws, and for the shoutout to ESG. Remember to know your local laws, ride safe, and don’t forget to wear a helmet!