Guide to Moped and Vespa Laws in NYC
Driving a moped or Vespa around NYC is much more environmentally friendly – and potentially easier to park. If you already drive a moped or Vespa in the city or you are considering getting one, it is important to know the laws to help protect yourself and avoid injury.
Generally, you need a license to drive a moped or a Vespa in NYC, but what license you need will vary depending on the class of vehicle. The class is usually determined by the moped’s top speed, with the fastest and most powerful mopeds being classified much like motorcycles. Rules also vary from vehicle to vehicle as to whether a helmet and other safety features are required.
If you were injured in an accident, call (718) 841-0083 to get help from the NYC personal injury lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm.
Licensing and Safety Gear Requirements for Mopeds and Scooters in NYC
Depending on the type of moped, scooter, or Vespa you are driving, you will have to follow different licensing and safety feature requirements. These vehicles are often known as “limited-use motorcycles” under NY law, and they are split into Class A, Class B, and Class C vehicles, and the NY DMV sets different rules for each class of vehicle. Our Long Island motorcycle accident attorneys explain the difference between these classes and scooters/e-bikes:
Class A limited-use motorcycles are the class of mopeds and scooters that are most like motorcycles. These vehicles have a top speed of 30-40mph and are essentially treated the same as motorcycles when it comes to licensing, registration, and safety requirements. If the vehicle goes over 40mph, it is simply classified as a motorcycle in most cases instead.
These mopeds require drivers to have a class M license – that is, a motorcycle license. A Class MJ license is also acceptable – a motorcycle license for drivers 16-17 years old. You also have to get these vehicles inspected and registered, and you must have insurance to drive them.
Helmets and eye protection (either goggles or a visor on your helmet) are also required for these vehicles, just like motorcycles.
You can drive a Class B limited-use motorcycle with any license, but you are still required to register it and get insurance. However, you do not need to get it regularly inspected. Again, a helmet and eye protection are required, like with a motorcycle.
Class B vehicles are those that have a top speed of 20-30mph – making them slower than traffic in many parts of the city.
Class C limited-use motorcycles are mopeds and scooters with a top speed of 20mph or under. Again, you can drive these with any type of license – but you must have a license. These vehicles go slow enough that a helmet and eye protection are not necessary, and you do not need insurance or inspections; however you do need to register the vehicle.
Electric Scooters and E-Bikes
It is important to understand that electric scooters (“e-scooters”) and electric bikes (“e-bikes”) make up a separate class of vehicle. These vehicles can have a deck that you stand on or a seat, along with handlebars.
For scooters and e-bikes with a max speed of up to 20mph, a driver’s license is not required, registration is not required, and helmets are not required. If the max speed is 25mph, a helmet is required, but the rest of the rules are the same.
Where Can You Drive a Moped or Vespa in NYC?
Mopeds and Vespas are smaller vehicles, and they are much more maneuverable compared to cars and motorcycles. Many riders think that they are better for getting around town because they do not have to stick to the roads, and they can weave between cars to get through traffic jams, but those are in fact illegal in NYC.
Mopeds and other limited-use motorcycles must be driven on the road. In fact, restrictions are even tighter for Class B and C mopeds, as they are only permitted in the right lane or shoulder except when you need to move to the left to make a left turn. Class A mopeds are the only ones that go fast enough to safely keep up with traffic and are the only mopeds allowed in all traffic lanes. No mopeds are allowed on sidewalks, and you cannot ride them in bike lanes either.
Electric scooters and e-bikes, on the other hand, can only be ridden on streets with a top speed of 30mph and in bike lanes. They are not allowed on highways, and you have to keep them off the sidewalk unless a local rule explicitly allows them on sidewalks.
Lane-splitting, or driving between cars by using the space near the lane line, is illegal in New York.
Does a Vespa Count as a Moped, Scooter, or Motorcycle in NYC?
Under New York law, a Vespa typically has to be defined as either a scooter/e-bike, a limited-use motorcycle, or a motorcycle. The terms scooter, moped, and motorcycle (in that order) map pretty closely to these specific terms. Fortunately, NY law bases most of the distinctions on top speed rather than details like engine size, making the question a bit easier.
What makes the question harder is that Vespas range in speed and power, meaning that some Vespas are mopeds, and some might even be motorcycles! Scooters can usually be ruled out, as most Vespas simply go too fast to qualify as an electric scooter under NY law.
Some Vespas are specifically made with these laws in mind and have speeds capped at 30mph so that you know they qualify as a Class B or C moped instead of a motorcycle. In that case, you can drive them with a regular driver’s license, as discussed above. If your Vespa goes faster, you might need a motorcycle license to drive it.
How Moped and Vespa Laws Affect Accidents in NYC
If you are involved in an accident while riding a moped or Vespa, it is important that you were in compliance with all laws. If you were driving without a license or you had the wrong type of license for your vehicle, that could be used against you in court. You could also be accused of contributing to your own injuries if you were riding in the wrong place or failed to wear a helmet, so make sure to follow all rules and requirements when driving your moped in NYC.
Call Our Moped and Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today
If you were hurt in an accident, call our NYC motorcycle accident attorneys at The Carrion Law Firm today at (718) 841-0083.