Spring is the perfect time for electric motorbikes, mopeds or scooters. While these two- and three-wheeled electric vehicles provide a fun and fuel-efficient alternative to automobiles, deciding which one is right for you can be confusing. There are significant differences between the various types of vehicles on the road today. And, each category is governed by a different set of rules regarding licensing, insurance, helmets and other issues. Here is an overview of the Michigan laws for mopeds, motorcycles, ORVs and electric scooters.
Licensing rules vary according to the operator’s age and the type of vehicle.
It is legal to operate a moped with a valid driver’s or chauffeur’s license. Otherwise, those 15 and older can apply for a moped license. Applicants must pass a vision test as well as general knowledge and traffic sign tests. If the person subsequently obtains a Michigan driver’s or chauffeur’s license, the moped license must be forfeited. In addition, if you are under 18, your application must be signed by a parent or guardian.
To operate an off-road vehicle (ORV) or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) on public lands and state-designated trails and routes, an ORV license and an ORV trail permit from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are required.
According to Michigan law MCL 257.32b, a “moped” is a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with the following characteristics:
A vehicle that does not have these features will probably be classified as a scooter or a motorcycle, which are subject to different laws and regulations.
A vehicle that does not meet all of the criteria listed above is usually considered a motorcycle. However, a scooter may be a moped or a motorcycle depending on its size and potential speed. Scooters capable of speeds greater than 30mph are generally classified as motorcycles.
An ORV (off-road vehicle) is any vehicle that can be driven over natural terrain without a designated road or trail. ORVs include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) such as water-to-land vehicles and utility task vehicles.
Mopeds must be registered with the Secretary of State. Upon registration, you will be issued a three-year decal that must be displayed on the back of the vehicle. Mopeds that will be operated strictly on private property do not have to be registered.
ORVs, which can have three or four wheels, must be registered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Scooters and electric bikes do not have to be registered.
Michigan law does not require titles for mopeds and scooters.
Those purchasing an ORV or ATV are issued an “off-road” title, which prohibits use of the vehicle on public streets and roads. Certain side-by-side ORVs may be retitled as an “assembled vehicle” for on-road use providing it is retrofitted with certain equipment. Details can be found on the Michigan Secretary of State website.
Helmet laws vary according to the type of vehicle. Nonetheless, wearing a helmet when riding any vehicle, including a bicycle, is highly recommended. Numerous studies show that helmets can protect against serious head injuries in the event of an accident.
Motorcyclists and passengers 21 or older may ride without a helmet in Michigan. However, they are required to have at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits. In addition, motorcycle operators must have held a motorcycle endorsement for at least two years or have passed an approved motorcycle safety course.
Motorcycle operators and passengers under 21 years old must wear an approved helmet.
Those 18 years old and younger must wear an approved helmet while riding a moped on a public road.
With a few limited exceptions, all ORV operators and passengers must wear an approved helmet and protective eyewear.
Helmet laws for scooters depend on the vehicle’s classification. For example, a scooter that is able to travel at 30mph or faster is usually classified as a motorcycle. Therefore, the rider would have to follow the same Michigan helmet laws that apply to motorcyclists. If the scooter is classified as a moped (speed capacity does not exceed 30mph), the rider is subject to the helmet laws for mopeds.
Recommended Reading: What Every Biker Needs to Know About Michigan Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Liability insurance is not required for most mopeds. However, a moped that has been modified to travel at speeds faster than 30mph is considered a motorcycle under Michigan law. As such, the owner is required to purchase mandatory motorcycle liability insurance of at least $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.
In addition, insurance is not required for electric bikes, scooters and ORVs. Nevertheless, it’s wise to insure these vehicles under a homeowners or renters policy in case of theft or damage.
Further details and up-to-date information can be found on the Michigan Secretary of State website.
Recommended Reading: Michigan Moped Laws and How They Differ From Motorcycles, ORVs and Scooters
If you are injured in an accident involving any type of vehicle, we can help. Our entire legal team is well-versed in the laws regarding mopeds, motorcycles and other two- and three-wheeled vehicles. We know what it takes to win your case, and we are ready to fight for the compensation you deserve.
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