What are the differences between motorcycles, motor scooters, and mopeds, and what are the laws for each?

man driving scooterRiders of all ages love to take to the scenic Florida roads on two- and three-wheeled machines and feel the open air. However, in order to truly appreciate the ride, operators of these vehicles must obey the laws for their particular machines. Otherwise, they risk not only injury but also fines and potential liability charges.

Florida Laws for Motorized Two- and Three-Wheeled Vehicles

To understand how Florida laws pertain to motorcycles, mopeds, and motor scooters, it's important to first know how these vehicles are classified. Each state has specific definitions, categorizations, and laws governing these vehicles.  

Our state separates these types of vehicles into four distinct categories, with licensing and safety regulations for each.

  • Motorcycles. A motorcycle is defined as any two- or three-wheeled vehicle that contains a saddle or seat and has an engine with a displacement magnitude—which is the amount of air and fuel the cylinders can suck in at once to create power—of more than 50 cubic centimeters (ccs). This definition excludes tractors and mopeds. Motorcycles are required by state law to be registered and have a title before riding on state roadways.
  • Motor scooters/mini-motorcycles. A motor scooter, or mini-motorcycle, is defined as any type of two- or three-wheeled vehicle containing a saddle or seat that has an engine with a displacement magnitude up to 50 ccs. Florida laws don't specifically define motor scooters as a separate classification from motorcycles, even though their power and displacement magnitudes can vary. Therefore, registration and licensing regulations for motor scooters are the same as for motorcycles—the operator must have a valid driver’s license, and if the vehicle’s engine exceeds a displacement of 50 ccs, the operator must also have a motorcycle endorsement on his license.
  • Mopeds. The term moped is derived from the combining of the words “motor” and “pedal.” Therefore, a moped is defined as any vehicle with no more than three wheels and pedals that can be used to propel the vehicle by human power. Mopeds have seats or saddles, and are designed with a motor that cannot propel the vehicle faster than 30 mph. If an internal combustion engine is used, the displacement may not exceed 50 ccs. Although a title isn't necessary, mopeds must be registered if an operator wants to ride them on state roadways.
  • Motorized scooters. A motorized scooter—not to be confused with a motor scooter—is categorized as any vehicle without a saddle or seat, designed to travel on no more than three wheels, and that cannot propel itself more than 30 mph on level ground. This machine might be a child's electric standing scooter or a mobility-assistance vehicle. Motorized scooters don't require titles or registration, but are also not permitted on state roadways or sidewalks.

Safety Regulations

Florida helmet laws are based on the age of the operator, as well as the speed and power of the vehicle.

  • Motorcyclists 21 and older are permitted to ride without a helmet only when carrying proof of insurance coverage. The required coverage amount is a minimum of $10,000 to pay for treatment of injuries that may result from a collision. Motorcycle riders, including passengers, under 21 are required to wear protective headgear that passes The Federal Department of Transportation helmet standards. Furthermore, all motorcycle riders, regardless of age, are required to wear protective eye gear to avoid injury and promote clear vision.
  • Moped and scooter riders under 16 must wear a helmet. Riders over 16 who hold regular or “motorcycle only” operators' licenses aren't obligated to wear helmets as long as:
  1. Their vehicle cannot exceed a speed of more than 30 mph
  2. The vehicle does not have a displacement of more than 50 ccs.

For more up-to-date material on motor scooter, moped, and motorcycle safety, rider tips, laws, and other resources, browse our extensive collection of informative articles. For additional support, contact our office directly to schedule your free case review. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle or traffic collision, we can help you build a strong injury case to secure injury compensation. Call at 386-673-4412 to get started.