There have been a lot of questions about motorized bicycles. We have answered them as they came and there were four separate posts on the same subject. This post replaces all of those and consolidates all the most recent information. Many thanks to all who have contributed with comments, but we will lose them with this post.
Each of the questions is repeated here.
James asked: Is it legal to ride a bike with a small motor on the roads in Florida?
Motorized bicycles powered by an electric assist motor are bicycles as defined in the statutes, and lacking a statute to the contrary their operators have the same rights and duties as other vehicle operators.
s. 316.003 – Definitions
(2) Bicycle – Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which a person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or similar device.
A person must be age 16 or older to operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle.
(2) No person under the age of 16 may operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle.
For gas powered bicycles, see below.
Frank asked: I tried looking up the fine for riding an electric bicycle (under electric power) on a sidewalk. Can you tell me what that may be?
The applicable statute is:
s. 316.1995 – Driving upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path
No person shall drive any vehicle other than by human power upon a bicycle path, sidewalk, or sidewalk area, except upon a permanent or duly authorized temporary driveway. A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation as provided in chapter 318.
The penalty would be:
s. 318.18 – Amount of Penalties
(3)(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, $60 for all moving violations not requiring a mandatory appearance.
There could be additional court costs that could be $100 or more. You should check with your local law enforcement agency for more information.
Roxanne asked: I was pulled over today for riding my electric bicycle on the street. What are the laws about this? I was told I must to use the sidewalk and follow the pedestrian rules regarding intersections and traffic lights. The officer also implied that I needed bicycle insurance.
See above about operating a vehicle by power on a sidewalk. If you are operating your bicycle on the sidewalk under human power, you have the rights and duties of a pedestrian, and must yield to pedestrians.
Lacking a statute to the contrary, you are entitled to use the roadway just as is any other vehicle.
A driver’s license is not required since a bicycle is not a motor vehicle.
s. 322.01 Definitions – As used in this chapter:
(27) “Motor vehicle” means any self-propelled vehicle …. excluding vehicles moved solely by human power, motorized wheelchairs, and motorized bicycles as defined in s. 316.003
s. 322.03 – Drivers Must be Licensed; Penalties
(1) Except as otherwise authorized in this chapter, a person may not drive any motor vehicle …. unless such person has a valid driver’s license ….
Registration of your vehicle is not required for the state, nor is it a motor vehicle, so there is no requirement for state licenses. Local authorities may require registration. See this link.
Insurance is not required. In the state of Florida, every person driving a motor vehicle registered with the state must carry the state’s minimum coverage.
s. 324.021 - Definitions; Minimum Insurance Required
(1) Motor Vehicle – Every self-propelled vehicle which is designed and required to be licensed …. but not including any bicycle or moped.
s. 324.022 - Financial Responsibility for Property Damage
(1) Every owner or operator of a motor vehicle required to be registered in this state shall establish and maintain the ability to respond in damages for liability on account of accidents arising out of the use of the motor vehicle in the amount of $10,000 because of damage to, or destruction of, property of others in any one crash.
Jerry asked: I’m trying to find out about Florida law on bicycles with a gas power-assist engine prior to buying one.
a. Do the rules vary by county? I’ve heard that is ok, simply follow the rules of the road, have a headlight and tail light, and be over 16 years of age. No insurance or registering is required.
b. I’ve seen two bicycles for sale, one with a 48cc engine, and the other with a 66cc engine. Would both engines be ok to ride on the street?
c. Can you kindly refer me to a website link that further explains or reviews this?
The vehicle you describe does not fit the legal definition of “bicycle”, since a “motorized bicycle” has an electric helper motor.
A bicycle with a gas assist motor is not legal on the roadway or the sidewalk. It is not a bicycle, a moped, nor a motorcycle. See this post for additional information about mopeds.
Additional information can be found at this DHSMV link. Below is a question and answer from that site.
A company is advertising on TV a gas engine kit that can be added to a bicycle. The engine is tied into the pedal system like a Moped and it has to be pedaled to start the engine. It is advertised that the bicycle will be propelled to 30MPH. How is the tax collector supposed to register this bicycle/gas engine assembly?
The definition of bicycle under s. 316.003(2), F.S., includes motorized bicycles. Bicycles are not registered or titled. Engine kits for bicycles are not new and there are a variety of kits available, however, they remain bicycles after the engine kit is installed. There are other requirements that must be met to be classified as a motorcycle/scooter/moped such as frame assembly and safety features. If a customer brings in paperwork for a bicycle, they cannot be legally issued a title or registration nor is it required. The agent should also direct the customer to law enforcement if there are any questions as to where the motorized bicycle can be used.
One of our readers pursued this question further with the DHSMV and received this letter. He/she asked that the name not be published.
There should be no difference in the state requirements in different counties. The traffic laws are uniform throughout the state, but counties or municipalities may impose local ordinances that do not conflict with state laws. When in doubt, ask your local Sheriff’s Office or police department.
Melanie asked: I have done some research and have discovered that an electric scooter is classified as a bicycle if: It can be powered manually (by pedaling) as well as have a power assist electric motor not to exceed 750 watts, a 25″ seat at its highest extension and will not exceed 20mph. A drivers’ license is not required to operate a “bicycle” as defined by Florida law.
Can an “electric assist motor scooter” be operated without a drivers’ license as well? Please do not refer me to the Florida statutes, I have gone over and over them and cannot come up with a clear conclusion of the law regarding this issue.
If your vehicle is as described, it appears to meet the definition of “bicycle” in the statutes. If so, a driver’s license is not required. If it is not a “bicycle” and is a motor scooter, a driver’s license is required.
There is no statutory definition of an “electric scooter”, “electric assist motor scooter” or “motor scooter”, but the DHSMV seems to place a motor scooter in the same category as the motorized scooter as defined below.
“Motorized scooter” seems to apply to the toy scooters without a seat, which are not bicycles and are not legal on the roads or sidewalks lacking a local ordinance to the contrary.
s. 316.003 – Definitions
(82) Motorized Scooter – Any vehicle not having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground.
s. 316.2128 – Operation of Motorized Scooters and Miniature Motorcycles; Requirements for Sales
(1) A person who engages in the business of, serves in the capacity of, or acts as a commercial seller of motorized scooters or miniature motorcycles in this state must prominently display at his or her place of business a notice that such vehicles are not legal to operate on public roads, may not be registered as motor vehicles, and may not be operated on sidewalks unless authorized by an ordinance enacted pursuant to s. 316.008(7) or s. 316.212(8).
If your vehicle is described as a “motor scooter” there may be additional requirements, and may be legal to operate on the roads. In order to determine those requirements, you must ascertain the specifications as stated by the manufacturer. The DHSMV link in the question above may be helpful. One paragraph from that site is quoted.
“If a MCO (Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin) states the vehicle is a “motor scooter”, use the definition of “motorcycle” in section 320.01(27) or “moped” in section 320.01(28), Florida Statutes, to determine if the vehicle should be titled and registered as a motorcycle or registered as a moped. The MCO must show the cc’s of the motor for a motorcycle or the brake horsepower (bhp) for a moped.”
You should contact your dealer or the manufacturer to determine the exact specifications and contact your local law enforcement office with this information to determine the applicable laws.
The following is a statement by the DHSMV at this site,
regarding motor scooters, based on a Legal Opinion by the Attorney General, extracts of which are included. It refers to gas powered motor scooters, but does not address those with an electric motor. It also seems to contradict the material above regarding the definition excluding a seat.
Motor Scooters- Are they legal in Florida?
It is unlawful to operate a motor scooter as defined in Florida statute 316.003(82), on any roadway in Florida, unless the operator has a valid diver license. By a ruling of the Attorney General (AGO 2002-47) these vehicles are not subject to the equipment and safe driving requirements of a motor vehicle contained in chapter 316. However, if such vehicles are operated on the roads of Florida, the operator must possess a valid driver license per chapter 322.03.
Attorney Generals Office Legal Opinion 2002-47
Are motorized scooters subject to the equipment and safe driving requirements of a motor vehicle or the provisions relating to mopeds or “electric personal assistive mobility devices” prescribed in Chapter 316, Florida Statutes?
As of July 1, 2002, motorized scooters are excluded from the definition of “motor vehicle” for purposes of Chapter 316, Florida Statutes, and therefore are not subject to the equipment and safe driving requirements of a motor vehicle contained in that chapter, nor are the provisions relating to mopeds or “electric personal assistive mobility devices” prescribed in C hapter 316, Florida Statutes, applicable to motorized scooters.
In Attorney General Opinion 93-45, this office concluded that a motorized scooter powered by a gasoline engine with a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour may be characterized as a “motor vehicle” pursuant to section 316.003(21), Florida Statutes 1993, and that the drivers and operators of these scooters were subject to the provisions of Chapter 316, Florida Statutes, governing vehicles and vehicular traffic. At that time, section 316.003(21) defined “motor vehicle” as “[a]ny self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle or moped.”
You have advised this office that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has stated that motorized scooters, are subject to the regulations regarding equipment and safe driving requirements of a motor vehicle as mandated by Chapter 316, Florida Statutes.  In addition, the department, relying on the opinion of the Second District Court of Appeal in State v. Riley, has concluded that a motorized scooter driver is required to have a driver’s license.
During the 2002 legislative session, however, the Legislature amended the definition of “motor vehicle,” effective July 1, 2002. Section 67 of Chapter 02-20, Laws of Florida, amends section 316.003(21) to define “motor vehicle” as “[a]ny self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped.”
Section 67 of Chapter 02-20, supra, also adds subsections (82) (definition of motorized scooter above) to section 316.003, Florida Statutes, which respectively define “motorized scooter”.
Thus, effective July 1, 2002, motorized scooters as defined by section 316.003(82), Florida Statutes, as amended, are expressly excluded from the definition of “motor vehicles” for purposes of Chapter 316, Florida Statutes. Accordingly, the provisions of that chapter that prescribe various equipment and safe driving requirements of motor vehicles are no longer applicable to “motorized scooters.”
Moreover, the provisions relating to the operation of mopeds would not be applicable to “motorized scooters” since such scooters, which have no seat or saddle for a rider’s use, do not fall within the definition of “mopeds” contained in section 316.003(77), Florida Statutes. Thus, such provisions as sections 316.208 and 316.2085, Florida Statutes, which set forth the responsibilities of persons operating a motorcycle or moped, or section 316.211, Florida Statutes, which prescribes the equipment for motorcycle and moped riders, are inapplicable to motorized scooters. Similarly, the requirement of section 316.2068, Florida Statutes, as created by section 68, Chapter 02-20, Laws of Florida, imposing certain regulations on electric personal assistive mobility devices, apply only to such devices as defined in section 316.003(83), Florida Statutes, as amended. I would note, however, that the definition of “motor vehicle” contained in section 322.01(26), Florida Statutes, for purposes of that chapter relating to driver’s licenses, has not been amended and still defines “motor vehicle” as “any self-propelled vehicle, including a motor vehicle combination, not operated upon rails or guideway, excluding vehicles moved solely by human power, motorized wheelchairs, and motorized bicycles as defined in s. 316.003.”
In light of the above, the Legislature may wish to readdress these issues and clarify its intent regarding the operation of motorized scooters in this state.
Accordingly, I am of the opinion that as of July 1, 2002, motorized scooters are excluded from the definition of “motor vehicle” for purposes of Chapter 316, Florida Statutes, and therefore are not subject to the equipment and safe driving requirements of a motor vehicle contained in that chapter, nor are the provisions relating to mopeds or “electric personal assistive mobility devices” prescribed in Chapter 316, Florida Statutes, applicable to motorized scooters.
Robert A. Butterworth