Saturday, March 29, 2003

Scooter or motorcycle? States vary

Motor scooters typically have a step-through design, full bodywork, storage areas and an automatic transmission.

The federal government and most states do not define "motor scooter." Therefore, a motor scooter is regulated as a motorcycle or a mo-ped.

If a motor scooter does not meet a state's definition of a mo-ped, it will be regulated as a motorcycle. The definition of a mo-ped varies.

• In Indiana, any two-wheeled vehicle that does not fall under the definition of "motorized bicycle" is a motorcycle for operator licensing purposes, and the operator must have a motorcycle license. Motorized bicycle specifications are 50cc engine or less; 2 horsepower or less; maximum speed of 25 mph. If a scooter exceeds these limits, the operator needs a motorcycle license.

• In Ohio, the "motorized bicycle" definition specifies that the vehicle have pedals, have no more than a 50cc engine, no more than 1 horsepower, and maximum speed of 20 mph. Any vehicle not meeting these specifications will be classified as a motorcycle, and the operator will need a motorcycle license.

• In Kentucky, if the scooter is over 50cc, or more than 2 horsepower or has a maximum speed of more than 30 mph, it is regulated as a motorcycle, and the operator needs a motorcycle license.

For a list of operator licensing by state, go to Web site. Also visit the Motorcycle Industry Council's Web site.

Anna Guido

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