North Carolina Moped and Scooter Laws

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Your scooter, moped or motorized bicycle in North Carolina may be considered one of several different vehicle types under North Carolina law. It depends on the type of motor your vehicle has, how fast it can go and whether it has pedals. How a scooter, moped or e-bike is categorized under North Carolina law can impact whether you need insurance, a license or a license plate to ride one.

Vehicle type

License required?Registration required?Where can I ride it?
Moped (under 50cc)NoYesRoads
Scooter/motorcycle (over 50cc)YesNoRoads
Electric bicycleNoNoRoads, bike paths and some sidewalks
HoverboardsNoNoRoads, bike paths and sidewalks

North Carolina moped laws

In North Carolina, a vehicle is legally considered a moped if it meets all of the following characteristics:

  • Two or three wheels
  • An engine under 50cc
  • Maximum speed under 30 mph
  • No gear shift

Moped owners must register these vehicles with the department of motor vehicles (DMV), and you'll need a license plate and liability insurance to drive on North Carolina roads. However, you don't need a motorcycle license or driver's license to ride one; you only need to be 16 years old.

Helmets are required for all moped riders in North Carolina.

NC Moped regulations

License required?Do I need liability insurance?Do I need to register it?Do I need a license plate?
NoYesYesYes

North Carolina scooter laws

For the most part, motorized scooters are considered motorcycles under NC law. The only exception is a scooter with an engine under 50cc, which is considered a moped (for guidelines, see the moped section above).

If your scooter's engine is more than 50cc, the vehicle is considered a motorcycle. You'll need a motorcycle license to ride it, and you must carry insurance and register your scooter with the DMV to take it on public roads. Helmets are also required for scooter drivers in North Carolina.

NC scooter and motorcycle regulations

License required?Do I need liability insurance?Do I need to register it?Do I need a license plate?
NoYesYesYes

North Carolina electric bicycle laws

In North Carolina, a bicycle is considered an "electric assisted bicycle" or e-bike so long as it meets all the following criteria:

  • Has two or three wheels, pedals, and a seat
  • Has an electric motor of 750 watts or less
  • Maximum propulsion speed of 20 mph or less

Electric bicycles that meet these criteria are regulated the same way as bicycles in North Carolina. That means you don't need to register or insure it to ride, and only riders younger than 16 are required to wear helmets. You can ride electric bikes on roads, bike paths and on most sidewalks, but some cities have restrictions about riding bicycles on sidewalks, especially in downtown areas.

NC electric bicycle regulations

License required?

Do I need liability insurance?Do I need to register it?Do I need a license plate?
NoYesYesYes

North Carolina hoverboard and Segway laws

In North Carolina, a vehicle is considered an "electric personal assistive mobility device" if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • Designed to transport one person
  • Self-balancing
  • Has two noninline wheels
  • Maximum propulsion speed of 15 mph or less

This category includes hoverboards and Segways. Devices that meet these criteria can be ridden on sidewalks, bike paths and roads, so long as those roads have a speed limit of 25 mph or less. You don't need a helmet or license to ride one, and you're considered a pedestrian while doing so. There's also no age requirement.

NC hoverboard and Segway regulations

License required?Do I need liability insurance?Do I need to register it?Do I need a license plate?
NoYesYesYes

North Carolina electric kick scooter laws

North Carolina doesn't currently have laws that pertain specifically to electric kick scooters, so they are technically considered mopeds under North Carolina law. However, it will be difficult to follow the letter of the law because you can't buy moped insurance for a kick scooter, and these scooters generally can't be registered with the DMV. If you choose to ride these vehicles in NC, be aware they're in a legal gray area.

Additionally, cities like Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte have enacted local laws pertaining to e-scooters, especially ones rented from companies like Bird and Lime. Some have banned the scooters entirely, while others have allowed them. Additionally, the minimum age to ride can vary, and some places allow sidewalk riding while others do not. Check your local laws for details.

North Carolina scooter and moped insurance requirements

In North Carolina, mopeds and scooter drivers are required to have liability insurance to drive on North Carolina roads.

Insurance requiredInsurance not required
MotorcycleElectric bicycle
Scooter (over 50cc)Motorized gas-powered bicycle
Moped

If you're required to carry insurance for your scooter or moped, you'll have to meet the following minimums before you can drive on North Carolina roads:

North Carolina liability insurance minimum requirements

  • $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $60,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $25,000 of property damage liability coverage per accident

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