Gas-powered scooters and other personal vehicles known as mopeds are commonly used throughout the state, and while these vehicles are not subject to the same laws governing motor vehicles like cars, trucks, and motorcycles, the state does enforce specific laws that you must acknowledge if you intend to use any type of gas-powered scooter or moped. These devices are faster than bicycles and accessible to a wide range of users. However, they are inherently dangerous in many ways.
If you intend to purchase and use any type of gas scooter in Colorado, failure to follow applicable state laws can potentially lead to fines, and you also increase your risk of experiencing an accident when you neglect to follow applicable moped and scooter laws anywhere in the state. Whenever an accident occurs involving a moped or scooter and a larger passenger vehicle, the moped or scooter operator faces a very high chance of suffering catastrophic injuries.
A moped is a scooter capable of self-propulsion that has two or three wheels. Any four-wheeled conveyance is subject to other statutes. Scooters and mopeds must have engines less than 50 cc, and electric moped motors may not exceed 4,476 watts in engine power. There is no special license required for an electric or gas scooter or moped in the state. However, a valid Colorado driver’s license is required, and the scooter operator must have a valid vehicle insurance policy for the scooter that meets the state’s coverage requirements.
The state’s bicycle laws often overlap and intersect with the laws that apply to scooters and mopeds. For example, both scooters and bicycles are prohibited from highway travel, and both are permitted to use bicycle lanes wherever they are available throughout the state. It’s important for moped and scooter operators to use extra caution if they drive near bicyclists to avoid causing accidents.
Moped and scooter operators must also follow driving under the influence (DUI) laws. If you operate any gas-powered or electric scooter or moped while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you would face the same DUI charge as you would for driving a passenger vehicle while intoxicated. The penalties are the same and can increase significantly if you have a prior DUI conviction on your record and/or if you cause an accident while under the influence.
The words “moped” and “scooter” are often used interchangeably, but the terms define two separate types of vehicles. A moped is a device used while the operator is standing. The operator’s feet are supported by the lower platform as they steer the vehicle with the handlebars. A scooter generally refers to a bicycle-style vehicle operated while seated. If you are unsure whether a scooter or moped is legal for on-street use, it’s important to evaluate the engine size. Standing-style mopeds with engines over 50 cc are very difficult to handle and control, even for experienced operators. Scooters are easier to handle, but anything with an engine over 50 cc may qualify as a motorcycle under Colorado law and would therefore be subject to different laws.
The state does not require helmets for moped and scooter operators over the age of 18, similar to the state’s motorcycle helmet law. However, it is always advised for moped and scooter operators to wear helmets to reduce the risk of fatal head injury if an accident happens. Other laws that apply to motorcycles and passenger vehicles also apply to moped and scooter operators. For example, it is illegal to use any gas-powered or electric scooter or moped on a sidewalk or through a crosswalk designed for pedestrian traffic.
If you intend to operate any street-legal scooter or moped in the state, you must have a valid driver’s license. Additionally, you must also have insurance coverage that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements. Failure to meet these requirements will lead to penalties, including demerit points on your license, if applicable, and a fine.
The absolute maximum engine size allowed for gas-powered and electric mopeds and scooters in the state is 50 cc. A 49 cc engine would fall within the legal parameters for moped and scooter use, but you must still meet the licensing and insurance coverage requirements. If you are unsure about the requirements for your particular scooter or moped, it is best to consult the local police or the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles.
Any scooter with a seat for the operator that has an engine larger than 50 cc legally qualifies as a motorcycle under state law. If you own this type of vehicle, you must have a motorcycle license to use it legally, and you will need appropriate insurance coverage that meets the state’s coverage requirements for bodily injury and property damage liability.
State law does not require license plates for mopeds or scooters. However, if your vehicle technically qualifies as a motorcycle, it will require a state motorcycle license plate. If there is any concern as to whether your vehicle requires a license plate or which state laws apply to your specific vehicle, it’s important to consult an experienced attorney or the state Department of Motor Vehicles with your concerns.
Mopeds and scooters can be fun to use, but it’s vital to ensure that you meet all applicable state laws when it comes to taking your vehicle on the road. Failure to do so could lead to legal penalties, and these laws exist to prevent accidents. Cheney Galluzzi & Howard has a team of experienced attorneys who have helped many clients recover from vehicle accidents. If you need legal representation after suffering injuries while riding your moped or scooter in the state, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about the legal services we provide to our clients.