Do You Need a Motorcycle License for a Moped? Here’s Your Complete Guide

Do You Need a Motorcycle License for a Moped? Here’s Your Complete Guide

To ride a motorbike, you need a license or permit. However, there may be some confusion about whether you need a motorcycle license to drive a moped.

It’s important to understand the state guidelines for license requirements because failure to comply may lead to heavy fines.

This article will answer the common question: “do you need a motorcycle license for a moped?” We will also cover rules in some states with regard to licensing and how long it takes to get the license. 

License Guidelines in US States

motorcycle rider showing driver's licence

In many states, riders who are not yet 18 years of age must have a permit to ride the motorcycle before applying for permits. In the same vein, riders who already have permits can qualify for a license by driving for the required number of hours with a licensed driver.

Drivers who are above 18 years do not need a permit first before they qualify for a license. The licensing process is not exactly the same for a moped. Mopeds are different from motorcycles and scooters. They are known for fuel efficiency, low maintenance cost, and they are smaller than motorcycles. 

Mopeds make it easier to get around and sport a 50cc motor. In some cases, it could be smaller. They can have pedals or a step-through frame and offer 40 mph with excellent gas mileage. Unlike scooters that can reach 75 mph with a bigger motor, mopeds are a lot slower. Also, mopeds may not be suitable for all roads like motorcycles.

Find out more about how to get a motorcycle license in the U.S.

Do You Need Licence for Mopeds or Scooters?

man and woman riding a scooter

It depends on the state you want to use the moped. In some cases, you will require a motorcycle license for a moped, depending on the regulations in the particular state. For instance, scooters require a motorcycle license and registration irrespective of where you live because their engines are 150cc. Mopeds, on the other hand, have smaller engine sizes at 50cc. Therefore, a moped may not require registration or a motorcycle license. 

However, even if a moped has a 50cc engine, some states like California require a learner’s permit or a regular driver’s license. Some other states do not require a license but may have age requirements for riders. A good example is North Carolina where riders need to be at least 16 years of age.

In Arkansas, the age requirement to be able to drive a moped is 10 years old, while New Mexico places the requirement at 13 years of age. 

Several other states have higher age requirements for moped riders. The range is usually from 14 to 16 years old. For motorcycles and scooters, the minimum age is 14 years old in Kansas, Alabama, and Alaska. It is a bit higher in Hawaii, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana where the minimum age is 15. 

Other states have a minimum age requirement of 16 to 18 years, and some also require an educational program for riders that do not meet the minimum age.

Also, if your moped has an engine that goes over 50cc, most states require a driver’s license or a motorcycle license. The license should also have a motorcycle endorsement if you get a regular driver’s license. For example, Vespas are considered scooters and not mopeds. If a Vespa is more than 50cc, then the rider needs to get a motorcycle license to drive it. 

With the 50cc model Vespas though, you can drive with a standard driver's license in several states. They include Indiana, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, New Hampshire, Iowa, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oregon, Virginia, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. 

For other bikes like the Honda Grom, you need to get a motorcycle license to drive it because the engine is larger than 50cc. 

What of the Honda Ruckus? This moped is powered by a 49cc motor, so you do not need a motorcycle license to drive it. Honda’s Metropolitan also has a 49cc motor, which makes it possible to ride without a motorcycle license and a regular driver’s license will do. If your moped does not fall in the category that can do without a motorcycle license, then you need to get one. 

How Long Does It Take Get a Motorcycle License?

The time it takes to get a motorcycle license depends on factors that include your riding experience and age. Riders who already have a permit and experience can get their motorcycle license after passing the road test.

For inexperienced riders, it may take more time to get a motorcycle license. Those who are still underage according to the law, or 18 years and below, must carry a learner’s permit in most states before qualifying for a motorcycle license. Also, they need to use the learner’s permit until it accrues a particular number of hours on the road. This can take months, but in the end, they can get a license of endorsement.

What Are the Penalties for Riding Without a License?

Driving a motorcycle without a license can lead to jail time and heavy fines in most states. In states like California, driving a motorcycle without a license can lead to six months in prison or a fine of $1,000. 

In other states, there are tax penalties for drivers who do not have a license. There is also a higher penalty for repeat offenders. In the same vein, avoiding the license fee could lead to citations of hundreds of dollars.

This is why you need to be sure of the type of moped and its engine size before riding. If it meets the requirements to bypass a motorcycle license, then you can go ahead. This also does not remove the requirement of a standard driving license. You need a license to ride your moped, but not a motorcycle license. Failure to adhere to this rule may lead to fines and imprisonment.

Do Traffic Laws Differ for Mopeds and Motorcycles?

Traffic laws are the same for all vehicles whether they are cars, motorcycles, mopeds, or scooters. However, some regions have extra laws for mopeds, so it is important to know them to avoid fines. All states prohibit mopeds from riding between lanes in traffic. Some states do not allow mopeds to ride side by side.

Also, mopeds have smaller engine sizes, so they are slower. This means you cannot ride them on highways. It is advisable to stick to roads that have low-speed limits. Also, most states require mopeds to have tail lights, headlights, bell or horn, and turn signals. Each state’s rules may slightly differ, so check the specific requirement in your state. 

Helmet regulations may also vary in different states as well. There are approved designs of helmets in 20 states for passengers and riders on a moped. However, some states only require helmets for young riders. States like Delaware require riders to always have helmets in their possession. However, only riders under the age of 19 must wear them. 

In states like Rhode Island, passengers, and not riders, are required to put on helmets. Other states like Iowa, Colorado, and Illinois do not have helmet laws for mopeds. In some other states, riders are required to put on goggles if the moped does not have a windshield. 

Avatar for Joshua D. Mattie

    Joshua D. Mattie

    My motorbike addiction began with 50cc at 5 years old. I rode motocross as a teenager & into my 20's when I worked as a mechanic. This helped me to see the light—sportbikes & cruisers became a passion. Now I'm building BikersRights to be the #1 resource for everything on 2 wheels!

    Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

    Leave a Comment: