No motorcycle license? No problem!

Virginia has updated some parts of the moped code for 2013 and 2014! Please check out this article for information about the current moped laws so that you can be a legal eagle.

One of the great things about Virginia is how easy it is for you to start riding a 50cc scooter. You see, any 2-wheeled vehicle with an engine that is smaller than 50cc and a top speed of 35mph is legally considered to be moped in Virginia.  There are some other things to keep in mind, of course.  You’ll need to be at least 16 years old and you’ll need to stay off of any roads that are considered to be highways (those are the roads with the sign at an on ramp that lets you know that farm equipment and mopeds are not allowed).  As per the new law that went into effect on July 1, 2013, every moped rider in Virginia must wear a DOT approved helmet and either have a windshield or wear eye protection such as goggles, safety glasses, or a helmet with a visor. Your passenger must also wear a DOT approved helmet. You need to carry a government issues ID of some type, and this does NOT mean you’ll need a drivers license or motorcycle license! You are legal as long as you have an ID card, passport, or some other form of state or federal ID with your name and address. You’ll need to follow the rules of the road just like the other vehicles.

But now on to the list of things that you don’t need.  You do not need a motorcycle license. You WILL need to title and register your moped by July 1, 2014, and the cost for that is $10 for titling and $20.25 yearly registration fee. No  state inspection is required on your vehicle. A moped does not require insurance (although it is not a bad idea to have recreational vehicle insurance, which should be covered by most insurance companies-keep in mind that your renters or home owners insurance typically DOES NOT COVER MOPEDS!!).

There are some misconceptions about 49cc bikes in Virginia too. We often hear people refer to a scooter as a “liquor cycle”. Virginia law notes that while you are not required to have a motorcycle license or a drivers license in order to ride a moped, you cannot drive a moped if you have lost your license due to drug or alcohol related charges, or if you have been judged to be a habitual offender. If you have lost your drivers license because of some other reason (for example: unpaid fines, points thanks to moving violations, etc), then you are generally clear to ride a 50cc scooter or moped. Please note that Scoot Richmond is not a legal adviser, and you should probably check with someone who does law stuffs for a living if you aren’t sure of your status.

It’s more likely that you are considering a 50cc scooter because of the ease of use and not because of legal driving limitations, and therefore we’d like to mention a few things to help you decide between a 50cc scooter and a larger faster scooter. Some people feel far more comfortable on a 50cc scooter when they are getting started on 2 wheels. The fact that a 50cc scooter generally goes about 35mph sounds easier and safer in some way, and the fact that you do not have to take a test in order to get your license makes it sound both easy and attractive.

For other folks, the simple fact of a scooter that is a moped’s top speed of 35mph is simply impossible. The licensing test is actually quite easy, especially on a scooter (perhaps the best vehicle ever for getting your motorcycle license). And insurance is very affordable, for the most part.

Loads of people are completely happy with a 50cc scooter for years and years. Just as many people are ready to upgrade from a 50cc scooter to something bigger and faster sometimes only a few weeks after purchase. While Scoot Richmond can’t definitively tell you which camp you will fall into, we can certainly do our best to help you choose the right scooter for your current needs.

25 Comments on “No motorcycle license? No problem!

  1. To my Understanding of the new VA Law. Even if your scooter/moped of 49cc is capable of going over 35mph (example, a stock ruckus 49cc can hit 42mph max) it is still a moped as long as the operator does not ride it past 35mph. But the moment you are traveling 36mph or faster, its a motorcycle & requires everything to make it legal. Just some insight 🙂

  2. Has anyone successfully titled and registered their scooter under the new law with the VA DMV yet ? If so, which location did you go to ?

    I went yesterday to the DMV location on Brook Rd. and they did not have a clue of what to do. After a frustrating hour and 45 minutes and nearly every employee there asking each other what to do and trying (unsuccessfully) to figure out how to process the documents, I finally asked for my paperwork back and left.

    My plan now is to wait a few months or so until they figure out what they are doing and try going back again. I realize the law just changed. But, the DMV website (see link below for details) indicates they are ready to process the title and registration if you come with the moped certification form and title for your scooter – which I did.

  3. Harv,

    A number of our customers have told us that the process went smoothly at the main DMV office in Richmond, which is located at 2300 West Broad Street. I’d try that office for fast service and ease of use as they seem to be the most together in terms of the new laws!

  4. Ted,

    We’ve now updated our page to reflect the new information…we were waiting until it went into effect on July 1.

    Statewide, a DOT approved helmet is now required on all mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles for both the driver and the passenger. The driver must additionally EITHER wear eye protection (such as a helmet’s visor, goggles, or glasses) OR have a windshield mounted on the vehicle that is tall enough to act as eye protection. Hope that helps!

  5. Does the eye protection have some type of certification? Sunglasses? Prescription eyeglasses? Thanks!

  6. Hey there Joey! The eye protection requirement does not have any certification attached to it. Sunglasses are fine DURING THE DAY ONLY, prescription glasses are good, safety glasses, goggles, just something to keep a bug, gravel, or other painful projectile from going straight into your eye.

  7. Is there a difference between 50cc and 49cc? Will the DMV require me to be licensed if my moped is 50cc and not 49?

  8. Mirajia,

    Everything we have listed as 50cc is technically a 49.9cc, meaning that you do not need a Motorcycle license. The state still classifies them as mopeds. Hope that helps!

  9. I understand as of June 1 2014 that you will be require to register and license all scooters 50 cc. Any truth or has anyone heard anything.

  10. Hi Marla,
    As of July 1 2014, all scooters and mopeds are going to have to be registered and will have to have a license plate. You will not need a license or insurance, just the registration and the plate. You’ll need to bring a title down to DMV or go through the new process they’ve set up for getting a title for a “moped” (the state considers every 50cc and under a moped). If you have any other questions don’t hesitate come in or give us a call.

  11. I’ve noticed lately since these laws are going into effect more people out riding their moped/scooters. I’ve also noticed that these people that have followed the law and are wearing helmets and have paid their registration fees actually have no clue what the laws are in riding these scooter/mopeds. Drivers of every other vehicle feel they own the road an a moped because of their 35mph top speed should not be on the road being an accident waiting to happen. They hate you as a moped rider and give you less respect than a bicyclist. So what do I see that irritates drivers, people riding in the middle of the fast left lane of traffic, or the middle of the road period and not to the right shoulder. Riders not keeping up with the posted speed limit that they can do but choose not to for the purpose of irritating drivers. Riding two abreast , not allowed with a moped. The bike lane is also not an option for travel, your not a bike your a motor vehicle. You must keep in mind that just because you are registered like all other vehicles does not make you an equal on the road as a car, motorcycle or a bicycle. You must follow traffic laws or be ticketed. The free for all haphazard reckless behavior is over, they now have something they can take away.
    I’ve heard mention of a possible required rider training before you can ride a moped. For me having ridden a motorcycle this would just be another headache of more hoops to jump through but for these riders not following simple rules may be necessary.

  12. From what I read off of the DMV website,those who have DUI related offenses can’t register a moped.Those that have drug offenses not related to driving can.

  13. Don, just wanted to clarify a few things. It is legal to ride with a passenger on SOME 49cc mopeds. It basically depends on the individual bike, as some mopeds are equipped and able to carry the weight of two people safely and have an area designated for passenger foot rests. Some mopeds are NOT equipped and able to carry the weight of two people, which can usually be identified by the lack of passenger footrests. For example, the Buddy 50 or a Vespa 50 are both fine for a driver and passenger, but any of Honda’s 50cc scooters such as the Metropolitan and the Ruckus are not ok to carry a passenger.

    Secondly, in most localities in Virginia, a moped should ride in the center of the lane of traffic, just like a car or motorcycle. Whether or not this is OK depends on the laws in that specific city or county and also generally has something to do with the speed limit on the specific road, so you’ll need to look into your local laws to determine that. Basically a moped DOES have rights just like a car or motorcycle, which is important because otherwise it would be impossibly dangerous to drive one anywhere!

    Riding two abreast in a lane was actually just made legal in one of the last 2 years of state legislature in Virginia, and that applies to both motorcycles and mopeds.

    That said it is definitely not legal to ride a moped in a bike lane, as that puts both the moped rider and bicyclists in danger.

  14. As we mentioned on the website, Scoot Richmond is a scooter dealer and not a legal adviser! Definitely best to check with your lawyer on this stuff as legalese is not our favorite dialect. Thanks Khalif!

  15. July 1 has come and gone, and my wife just picked up a copy of her scooter title this afternoon at the Laburnum Ave. DMV. The DMV teller told her she would need a registration/plate by July 31. Does July 1 to DMV imply an end of month expriration date like a license plate? No big deal, the scooter will be in Florida long before July 31.

  16. that’s weird…I think that the DMV teller was just plain wrong on that. We’ve had a few folks report that they have gotten tickets for not having tags starting on July 1. I’m not sure what happened there!

  17. Just wondering, what if a scooter has 3 wheels? Will it still be classified as a scooter? Also do yall have any 3 wheeled scooters that are under 50cc? Not too comfortable with the two wheel thing.

  18. A quick story on my trip to the DMV. I bought a tricked out RUCKUS from one of the local scoot guys out of Alexandria (wink wink). He had it titled as a motorcycle because he added components and drove it over 35mph. I spent 3 hours and 45 minutes at the Vienna, VA DMV while they tried to figure out how to re-title the Ruckus to a MOPED title. They kept telling me that because it was originally titled as a MC, there was no way they could change it. I brought a copy of the VA Law and the DMV web site verbiage. There is a form you have to fill out to attest that you promise to ride it like a moped. In any case, I was victorious. Bring the DMV policies and/or VA Law print outs in case you think you have an issue.

  19. Thanks for that story, Ray. The DMV folks generally just don’t want to do anything that gets them in trouble (understood!), and if you need any further help getting your documents together, we are here to help. 🙂

  20. Hey Joshua! There are definitely scooters that have 49cc engines and 3 wheels, and they will continue to be referred to as scooters. We do not carry any of those because they are all made in China and of dubious quality, not to mention SLOW!

  21. Hi All,
    Please know that I am an international student from India. I am thinking of taking moped for a daily transit from ashburn to fairfax.Can any one advise if I can take a 50cc moped in use for the transit.
    Thank you

  22. Legally speaking, you should be able to do that. However I am a bit unfamiliar with the roads in that specific area, and you may find that the traffic and speed limits on your route make it rather uncomfortable to ride in in those circumstances! Sorry I cannot be of more help.

  23. i once was pulled over and ticketed for riding my 50cc scooter in the left lane (was going to make a left within a block or two.) just paid the fine, didnt try to fight it, anyone else know or had experiance with this? i think the road may have been 45mph but i was going close to 38mph

  24. John,

    Legally speaking, in the state of Virginia you are only allowed to go 35mph on a vehicle that is classified as a moped, so going 38mph will definitely get you pulled over.

    The question of the left lane is based on the laws in the locality where the infraction occurred, so you will have to check with local law enforcement about that.

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