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Connecticut Moped Laws

Connecticut Moped Laws

Dear 50 cc fans:

As far as i can tell a moped is considered a bicycle with a helper motor in the nutmeg state provided:

a. goes no faster than 30 mph

b. displaces less than 50 cc

c. has an automatic transmission

d. less than 2 brake horse power

e. and after 7/1/97 the need for pedals is deleted from the requirements.

However the operator of this vehicle must possess a valid motor vehicle operators license or a motorcycle license. It would seem then that many 50 cc scooters would qualify under this amended rule.

There is no need for a tag or insurance or emissions testing and i would assume no personal property tax.

Being a bicycle of course they are prohibited on limited access highways and turnpikes.

Respectfully submitted,

John Nimlo


Info from Connecticut DMV

Definitions

Mopeds - A "bicycle with helper motor" (also known as a moped or noped) includes all vehicles propelled by the person riding the same by foot, or by hand power, or a helper motor having a capacity of less than fifty cubic centimeters piston displacement and not rated more than two brake horsepower and capable of a maximum speed of no more than thirty miles per hour and equipped with automatic transmission. The bicycle with helper motor is prohibited from operation on sidewalks under Connecticut State Law Title 14 Sec. 14-286.

Motor Scooters - Many motor scooters are motorcycles and would require a registration and motorcycle operator’s license to operate on the road. Some motor scooters fall under the definition of a "bicycle with helper motor’ (moped) as found in Connecticut State Law Title 14 Sec. 14-286. A "bicycle with a helper motor" would not be required to be registered, however, it would require that the operator have a valid driver’s license to operate on the road. The legal age to obtain a driver’s license in Connecticut is 16 years of age.

Go-Peds - Go-peds fall under the same provisions as "bicycle with helper motors". See moped definition.


If you have a motor scooter, moped or motorbike having a motor that produces 5 brake horsepower or less (or 3.7 kW or less) and a seat height of at least 26 inches, you may operate it on the roadway without registering it. However, you must have a valid motor vehicle operator’s license to operate it, and you may not operate it on any sidewalk, limited access highway or turnpike. If the maximum speed of your cycle is less than the speed limit of the road that you are on, you must operate in the right hand lane available for traffic or upon a usable shoulder on the right side of the road unless you are making a left turn. As of October 1, 2008, these vehicles are referred to as “motor driven cycles.”
POCKET BIKES, MOTORIZED SCOOTERS AND CONNECTICUT MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION LAWS

SUMMARY

Connecticut law requires any motor vehicle operating on a highway to be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) but it does not explicitly limit the use of public roads only to registered motor vehicles. A motor vehicle is defined as any vehicle propelled or drawn by nonmuscular power, but there are several exceptions, including one for vehicles “not suitable for operation on a highway.” DMV generally determines if a vehicle is suitable for use on a highway and thus subject to registration requirements based on whether it complies with several laws governing equipment required on motor vehicles. By law, a motor vehicle cannot be registered unless it has a vehicle identification number. Pocket bikes, which are miniature replicas of full size racing motorcycles, and motorized scooters meet few if any of the equipment requirements for motor vehicles and do not have vehicle identification numbers. Pocket bike manufacturers intend them for closed course racing rather than street transportation.

Thus pocket bikes and motorized scooters fall into an uncertain area of law because they are not generally considered motor vehicles yet are not explicitly banned from public roads. Although some municipalities appear to be trying to regulate them as bicycles with helper motors, but this is potentially problematic because it gives them a legal right to use the road. There are considerable safety concerns being raised, in particular with respect to pocket bikes, that could make this a counterproductive approach.

A copy of the Worcester, Massachusetts ordinance prohibiting operation of motor scooters on public and private streets and on all public property is enclosed.

STATUTORY CONTEXT

Connecticut law states that no motor vehicle may be operated or towed on any highway, with some exceptions, unless it is registered with the DMV (CGS § 14-12). The law prohibits the DMV commissioner from registering a motor vehicle unless it complies with several equipment related laws, including requirements for functioning mufflers and exhaust systems.

The law (CGS § 14-1) defines a motor vehicle as any vehicle propelled or drawn by any nonmuscular power except for:

1. aircraft;

2. motor boats;

3. road rollers;

4. baggage trucks used at railroad and other mass transit facilities;

5. electric battery-operated wheelchairs when operated by physically handicapped people at speeds of no more than 15 miles per hour;

6. golf carts operated on highways for the sole purpose of crossing from one part of the golf course to another;

7. golf cart-type vehicles operated on roads or highways on the grounds of state institutions by state employees;

8. agricultural tractors;

9. farm implements;

10. vehicles that run only on rails or tracks;

11. self-propelled snow blowers, snow plows, and lawn tractors when used for the purposes for which they were designed and operated at no more than four miles per hour;

12. bicycles with helper motors;

13. special mobile equipment (primarily construction and maintenance related heavy equipment); and

14. any other vehicle not suitable for operation on a highway.

A motorcycle is a motor vehicle with not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and having a seat or saddle on which the rider sits or a platform on which the rider stands. The definition includes motorized bicycles, except for those that fall within the statutory definition of bicycles with helper motors (CGS § 14-1). Bicycles with helper motors are defined as bicycles with motors having a capacity of less than 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement, rated at no more than two brake horsepower, capable of no more than 30 miles per hour, and equipped with an automatic transmission. Bicycles with helper motors, generally known as “mopeds,” may be operated on public roads, but the operator must be at least age 16 and have a valid driver’s license (CGS § 14-286).

State law also defines a “minibike” or “minicycle” as any two- or three-wheeled motorcycle having one or more of these characteristics: (1) 10 inches or less nominal wheel rim diameter, (2) 40 inches or less wheelbase, (3) 25 inches or less seat height, or (4) an engine piston displacement of 50 cubic centimeters or less. Although defined, the term is not actually used anywhere else in the motor vehicle laws. The only statutory reference to minicycles and minibikes relates to the liability of private property owners for injuries sustained by operators of such vehicles on their property (CGS § 52-557j).

REGULATORY ISSUES

The issue that has arisen with respect to pocket bikes (miniature replicas of full size racing motorcycles) and electric scooters is that because the DMV considers them unsuitable for use on a highway, they are ineligible for registration as motor vehicles under exception 14 noted above. Even though some pocket bikes might fit within the minibike or minicycle definition, that definition refers to them as two- or three-wheeled motorcycles, which by law are considered motor vehicles. If pocket bikes are unsuitable for use on a highway and therefore are not considered motor vehicles, they also cannot be considered motorcycles or minibikes under the law.

DMV generally determines if a vehicle is suitable for use on a highway, and thus subject to registration as a motor vehicle, by whether it complies with approximately a dozen state laws, primarily relating to various types of required equipment such as mufflers, brakes, and lights. Pocket bikes and motorized scooters generally meet few if any of these requirements. Motor vehicles are also required by law to have vehicle identification numbers to be registered (CGS § 14-149(d)), which pocket bikes and motorized scooters do not have since their manufacturers do not intend them for highway use. Pocket bikes are intended and marketed by their manufacturers for racing on closed tracks, not as street transportation.

While Connecticut law requires a motor vehicle to be registered in order to be operated on a public road, we have been able to find no explicit statement in the statutes that prohibits motorized vehicles from using public highways unless they are registered motor vehicles. A few municipalities appear to have approached the problem of regulating pocket bikes by attempting to apply the moped law requirements, but this approach could prove problematic since many pocket bikes can exceed the maximum 30-mile per hour speed mandated for bicycles with helper motors. Also, since bicycles with helper motors are legal for road use, attempting to regulate them as mopeds provides them with a legal right to use the road as long as the operator is at least age 16 and has a driver’s license.

WORCESTER ORDINANCE

Worcester, Massachusetts is one of a number of municipalities attempting to address the issue of pocket bikes and motorized scooters. Its recently adopted ordinance (enclosed) prohibits operation of a “motor scooter” on any public or private street in the city, including the sidewalk area, as well as on any other public property, including schools, playgrounds, and parks. Scooter operators may be fined $100. Anyone who rides as a passenger may be fined $50.

The ordinance defines a motor scooter as any wheeled device designed for transporting one or more people that is powered by any type of motor except for: motorcycles and motorized bicycles as defined by law, any registered motor vehicle or a motor vehicle lawfully exempt from registration, any wheelchair or similar mobility-assisting device used by someone with physical disabilities or whose ambulatory mobility has been impaired by age, and any city-owned or leased vehicles. Electric vehicles not capable of speeds over 12.5 miles per hour may be used on any paved sidewalk or marked pedestrian crosswalk.

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