Do you need a licence for an electric scooter?

Woman standing with an electric scooter holding a helmet

Electric scooters have become a popular transportation option to move quickly from one place to another. Not only are they fun to ride, but they’re also a great way to see a city and are environmentally friendly. As we start to come out of lockdown, people are looking for an easy way to commute that gives them space from other people. 

Despite more cities relaxing laws surrounding electric scooters, many people are still confused about what exactly those laws are. In Australia, the laws differ between each state and territory, and until recently, e-scooters were completely banned in Canberra. 

But the question you might be asking is, do I need a licence for an electric scooter? In this article, we’ll answer the following questions:

  • Is an electric scooter classified as a motor vehicle?

  • What kind of licence is needed for an electric scooter?

  • How do I know if my electric scooter complies with the law?

Man riding an electric scooter through a city with a tram in the background

Is an electric scooter classified as a motor vehicle?

Whether an electric scooter is classified as a motor vehicle or not depends on two things:

  • Power

  • Speed

Let’s have a look at a few different regions and their laws to help gain a little more insight into local regulations.

Victoria

In Victoria, regulations are expected to be updated in favour of electric scooter riders, but currently an electric scooter is deemed a motor vehicle if it exceeds 200 watts in power or 10 km/h. That doesn’t mean you can’t ride your e-scooter if it’s classified as a motor vehicle, but it does mean you need a licence. It also means you need to register it before you can hit the road. 

So before you hop on your electric scooter, make sure you check the laws in your state or territory otherwise you could get a fine. It’s also illegal to ride your electric scooter on the footpath. 

Additionally, if your electric scooter doesn’t meet the requirements of being a motor vehicle, then you won’t be able to ride it in public. 

Brisbane

Brisbane’s council regulations are a bit more relaxed than Victoria’s when it comes to electric scooters. They also classify any e-scooter that is powered by more than 200 watts of power and has a maximum speed of over 10 km/h as a motor vehicle, but they allow people to ride electric scooters up to 25 km/h in certain areas. However the person cannot ride on roads or in bicycle lanes - only footpaths.

Any e-scooter that is not deemed a motor vehicle is simply classified as a wheeled recreational device. The rules are different in Brisbane than the rest of Queensland due to their trialling of Lime’s shared e-scooters. You are also required to have a valid driver’s licence to ride an electric scooter in Queensland. 

Overseas

Electric Scooter License UK?

In the UK, an electric scooter is classified as a personal light electric vehicle so they come under the same laws as a motor vehicle. E-scooters regulations have only recently changed in the UK and for someone to legally ride one - the person must be over the age of 16 and have a full or provisional driving licence. 

Electric Scooter License USA?

Until recently, electric scooters and electric bikes were illegal in New York City. The laws in the city changed this year giving delivery drivers more freedom to deliver orders quickly and for commuters to get around the city safely during the coronavirus pandemic. 

You aren’t required to have a driver’s licence to ride an electric scooter across all states in the U.S., but some have stricter rules, including California. In California, you must have a driver’s licence or a learner’s permit to ride an e-scooter, and you must also wear a helmet. In NYC, a rider is only required to wear a helmet if they are under the age of 18. 

Person riding an electric scooter through a city street

What kind of licence is needed for an electric scooter?

In Australia, most states and territories require an electric scooter rider to have a licence but the type of licence differs.

Car licence

South Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia require the person to have a driver’s licence to ride an electric scooter. 

Motorcycle licence

New South Wales, Tasmania, and Victoria require the person to have a motorcycle licence to ride an electric scooter. This requires passing a motorcycle test before you step out in public with your e-scooter. 

Other rules

Wearing a helmet is crucial for electric scooter rider safety. Driving under the influence of alcohol and mobile phone usage is illegal when driving, so the same applies for electric scooter riders. It’s also important to check local council rules and regulations as these can differ too. Even a university campus might have its own rules about electric scooters being ridden. 

How do I know if my electric scooter complies with the law?

All the specifications of your electric scooter model will be in the handbook when you buy an e-scooter. If you’re unsure, you’ll be able to look them up on the scooter company’s website or by contacting the company directly. Some e-scooter companies, like Raine can adjust the power and speed of your Raine One electric scooter, to help comply with your local laws.


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