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Scooters, Mopeds, Minibikes, Driver’s Licenses, Registration And Insurance.

At a time in the not too distant past there was some ambiguity under Maryland law regarding the requirements –in terms of licensure, registration and insurance- for vehicles known as scooters, mopeds and the like, particularly those with engines displacing less than 50 ccs. It has been noted both that Maryland law could not possible define every conceivable type of motor driven cycle, and that these motor assisted cycles were seen as threat on the streets of Maryland metropolitan areas.

Under § 11-134.1 of the Transportation Article "Moped" means a bicycle that:

  • Is designed to be operated by human power with the assistance of a motor;

  • Is equipped with pedals that mechanically drive the rear wheel or wheels;

  • Has two or three wheels, of which one is more than 14 inches in diameter; and

  • Has a motor with a rating of 1.5 brake horsepower or less and, if the motor is an internal combustion engine, a capacity of 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement or less.

Under § 11-134.5 of the Transportation Article, motor scooter, means a nonpedal vehicle that:

  • Has a seat for the operator;

  • Has two wheels, of which one is 10 inches or more in diameter;

  • Has a step-through chassis;

  • Has a motor with a rating of 2.7 brake horsepower or less; or If the motor is an internal combustion engine, with a capacity of 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement or less; and

  • Is equipped with an automatic transmission.

If cycle has been designed for off-road use, it cannot be considered a motor scooter. 

Under § 11-136 of the Transportation Article, "Motorcycle" means a motor vehicle that:

  • Has motive power;

  • Has a seat or saddle for the use of the rider;

  • Is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground; and

  • At speeds exceeding 35 miles per hour; and

  • Is of a type required to comply with all motor vehicle safety standards applicable to motorcycles under federal law.

Under § 11-135 of the Transportation Article motor vehicle means, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, a vehicle that:

  • Is self-propelled or propelled by electric power obtained from overhead electrical wires; and

  • Is not operated on rails.

Motor scooters and mopeds are not considered motor vehicles.

Most of the ambiguity has been cleared. Under current Maryland law, as the MVA tells us “effective October 1, 2012 mopeds and motor scooters are required to be titled and display a title decal.  The operator/owner of the vehicle must carry proof of insurance while operating the vehicle."  Moreover, operators of motor scooters or mopeds must wear a DOT approved helmet and approved eye protection, and may not exceed 30 miles per hour. [https://mva.maryland.gov/Pages/Moped-Motor-Scooter-Questions.aspx]

The MVA further advises that to operate a moped or motor scooter, a Class M motorcycle license is not required.  § 16-101 of the Transportation Article tells us that “an individual may not drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle on any highway in this State unless the individual holds a driver's license, and that “each individual operating on any highway in this State a moped …. motor scooter… shall have with the individual: a driver's license or a moped operator's permit”

One potential area of ongoing ambiguity remains. Under § 11-134.4 of the Transportation Article a "Motorized minibike" means is a motor vehicle that has two or three wheels and “is not subject to registration under Title 13”. Motor scooters and mopeds are not considered motorized minibikes. It is unclear from the reading of that provision what type of two wheel motor vehicles that are not mopeds or motorscooters are the subject of the regulation.  Perhaps this provision deals with off-road only cylces. Since a motorized minibike is not required to be registered, it cannot be driven on the highways of the State.


     -This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 9/22/20. 

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