California E-Scooter Law Update

May 10, 2024

Over the last few years, it’s been hard not to notice the surge in popularity of scooters on California streets and sidewalks. The state classifies Electric scooters as motorized devices with two wheels, handlebars and a floorboard that you stand on to ride.

While anyone can easily purchase an electric scooter, they are often a bit confused about the laws regarding legal and safe operation in the state of California. We hope to clear some of that up with this post.
If you follow these simple rules, chances are you’ll avoid any type of traffic stop on your electric scooter. 

1. Do Not Exceed 15 MPH

CVC §22411 sets a speed limit for e-scooters in California. The maximum speed is 15 miles per hour. Exceeding this limit can get you pulled over and ticketed, with fines reaching up to $250. 

E-scooter sharing companies often design their scooters to cap at 15 mph. 

2. Do Not Ride On Street Without A Drivers License

Before you get on the road with other vehicles you need to know the rules of the road. At least this is how the state sees it. You NEED to have a valid drivers license to be on the street.

CVC §21235 also forbids: Riding an E-scooter on the sidewalk, and
Driving an E-scooter without having a valid driver’s license.

The only time you are allowed to ride an E-scooter on the sidewalk is to park the scooter or get a parked scooter onto the street.

CVC§21235 allows you to ride an E-scooter with a valid learner’s permit or driver’s license.

Violations are penalized with traffic tickets. Those tickets are usually around $200.

3. E-scooters Drivers Have The Same Rights & Responsibilities As Other Vehicles

CVC §21221, often referred to as a “catch-all” traffic law for E-scooters, stipulates that E-scooter operators are entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. The only exception applies to situations where these rights and responsibilities cannot logically apply. 
This provision also emphasizes that operating an E-scooter under the influence of drugs or alcohol is strictly prohibited. If you’re caught drunk while riding an E-scooter, you could face a DUI charge and a fine of approximately $350. 

4. Under 18? Wear Helmet

California Vehicle Code (CVC) §21235 was specifically written for E-scooters, which have an electric motor, a floorboard, and handlebars.
For riders under 18, wearing a bicycle helmet is mandatory while riding an e-scooter in California. This helmet must be properly fitted and securely fastened. 

Adults have the option to ride e-scooters without a helmet. Scooter accidents are up significantly, choosing to ride without a helmet is at your own risk. 

If you violate this part of the Vehicle Code, you could face a fine of around $200. 

5. Use A Bike Lane (Where Available) 

CVC §21229 requires E-scooters be ridden in bike lanes (also called bikeways, bike paths, or bicycle paths) whenever one is available.
The traffic law refers to a “Class II bicycle lane.” This type of bicycle lane is on the right edge of a street and has a solid white line on each side. It usually has a bicycle symbol inside the white borders. It only facilitates one-way riding.

The law allows for 4 exceptions to riding in a Class II bike lane:
1. While passing another vehicle or pedestrian,
2. When completing a left-hand turn,

3. To avoid debris or other hazards in the bike lane, or
4. When turning right.

6. No Passengers Allowed

We’ve all seen a more than one person cruising on an e-scooter but that’s actually illegal.

Under California law, riding double, or “tandem rides,” on electric scooters is strictly prohibited. Each e-scooter is designed to accommodate just one rider at a time. 

Having passengers significantly compromises control and stability, increasing the likelihood of falls or collisions. Additionally, the extra weight puts additional strain on the brakes, making the scooter harder to manage. 
If you violate this rule, you may face fines similar to those of a standard traffic citation.

7. Do Not Ride In A Crosswalk

CVC §275 defines what a crosswalk is, noting that at street intersections, crosswalks are technically considered sidewalks under this definition. 
According to CVC §21235(g), riding an e-scooter on a sidewalk is a traffic violation. This means it’s also a violation to ride one in a crosswalk, which can result in a ticket of about $200.

8. How Properly Take Left Turns

Last but not least is probably one of the most obsure. CVC §21228 forces E-scooters to turn left by:

1. Stopping after the intersection on the right curb
2.Dismounting, and
3. Crossing the roadway on foot

These rules are meant to prevent scooter accidents as they become more common on California streets. Understanding them before you hit the road on an electric scooter could help you avoid a traffic citation with fines as much as you’d see in a regular car. If you find yourself in this situation, give us a call for a free consultation.