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Motorized Scooters & Pocket Bikes


What is a Motorized Scooter?

The California Vehicle Code, Section 407.5 defines a Motorized Scooter, as follows: "A motorized scooter is any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, is designed to be stood or sat upon by the operator, and is powered by an electric motor...(or) a source other than electric power." 

The most common motorized scooter is powered by a two-cycle engine, similar to a gas-powered blower.


Should I buy one for my child?

Like many other motor vehicle devices, the fact that motor scooters are sold in stores does not mean they are always legal on our roadways.  The rules, regulations, and restrictions, pertaining to motorized scooters can be found in California Vehicle Code, Sections 21220.5 through 21235.  However, the decision for a parent to buy one for their child should be based upon the fact that the operator of a motorized scooter on a public roadway must be at least 16 years old and have a valid California Driver's License.


Other important rules to know are as follows:

  • The operator must wear an approved bicycle-type helmet.
  • The scooter can only be driven on a roadway with a speed limit not exceeding 25 miles per hour (most residential streets).  An exception to this rule is if the roadway has an approved Class II bicycle lane (the type on most roadways), the operator can ride on the roadway, but only in the bicycle lane.
  • The speed limit for a motorized scooter is 15 miles per hour, regardless of the roadway speed.
  • The operator cannot ride on a sidewalk.
  • The operator cannot have passengers or wear headphones.


Is a driver's license needed to operate a motorized scooter?

Yes.  It is a misdemeanor to operate a motorized scooter without a valid California Driver's license, per California Vehicle Code 12500a.  Operating a motorized scooter without a license is punishable by fine and the motorized scooter may be impounded for up to 30 days.


Can anything be done about scooter noise?

Motor scooter engines cannot exceed 82 decibels.  Most factory-equipped models fall below 82 decibels; however, some people modify scooter mufflers, causing them to exceed these noise levels.  The average patrol officer does not carry a decibel meter, but ,if you have a problem in your neighborhood, call the Stockton Police Department Traffic Section and request a Traffic Officer respond to test the noise level of the engine.


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This City of Stockton webpage last reviewed on --- 3/21/2011