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Do You Need a License to Drive an Electric Bike?

With the rise in popularity of electric bikes recently, there are many questions you may have as you consider taking up this exciting new hobby.

The great thing about e-bikes is that they can be used by the whole family. Plus, they’re just as good for fun and recreation as they are for practical reasons. So, this may open up the question of “do you need a license to drive an e-bike or not?”, and “do these regulations vary state by state?”

E-bikes can be a big investment, so you want to make sure you and your family members will be able to enjoy this new toy before buying it. Continue reading below as we dive deeper into each of these questions and others. With more information and clarity on this issue, you can hit the streets and trails with confidence. 

What Are the Regulations?

The fact of the matter is, e-bikes are still rapidly growing in popularity, so the regulations in all states haven’t necessarily caught up. Thus, it makes sense why people considering buying an e-bike would have questions around the licensing requirements and any age limits for riding e-bikes.

At the end of the day, the rules and regulations around e-bikes continue to evolve, so it’s always best practice to check what the current laws are in your state or municipality.

Aside from the licensing questions, e-bike owners should be paying attention to all relevant regulations they must adhere to, including where they’re allowed to ride their bike, if helmets are required, or how fast they’re allowed to go. Plus, many states have minimum age requirements for e-bike riders–generally 14 or 16 years old.

Even still, at the core of state’s regulations for whether users need a license to ride an e-bike is their definition of what an electric bike is, which we will now discuss in more detail.

What’s the Definition of an E-Bike?

Nowadays as more vehicles are becoming electric-powered, how do regulators separate an e-bike from other two-wheeled vehicles like a moped or motorbike? This delineation certainly impacts what laws and regulations are imposed on e-bike riders, so it’s important to understand this definition.

In general, Congress refers to e-bikes as “low-speed electric bicycles”, defined by a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals, an electric motor <750 watts, and a maximum speed on a paved surface less than 20 mph. With this, Congress noted that they should not be treated as a motor vehicle, placed under the Consumer Product Safety Commission rather than the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Many states use a three-tiered system to define e-bikes and what regulations they must follow based on how fast they can go or the power they have, while other states have made their own definitions for what qualifies as an e-bike and when it becomes a motor vehicle. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the specific states that currently require e-bike riders to have a license.

Which States Require a License for an E-Bike?

As we’ve mentioned, each state will have its own rules and regulations regarding e-bikes. Some states see e-bikes akin to standard pedal bikes, meaning they won’t require riders to have a license to use them. On the other hand, there are a number of states that view electric bikes like mopeds or other small electric vehicles, in which case owners will need a license and registration.

So in which states do you need a license to drive an e-bike? Here’s an up-to-date list of the states that require some form of licensing and/or registration based on their definition of an e-bike:

As you can see, it’s not a federal requirement for e-bike owners to register their bikes, so you may question why some states require any licensing at all. Of course, each state has their reasons for the legislation, but it’s likely that many recognize that e-bikes are operating alongside other vehicles on the roadways, so they want users to fully understand the laws that apply to the roads for maximum safety.

Final Thoughts on Licensing Requirements for E-Bike Riders

No matter where you’re located in the country, it’s advisable to stay up-to-date with local regulations on e-bikes to make sure you’re staying in compliance with all relevant laws when you hit the road. Especially if you reside in one of the states listed above, you’ll need to make sure that you have the proper form of licensing or registration needed to legally operate your e-bike.

When you’re confident that you’re adhering to all local guidelines and regulations, there’s no better feeling than hitting the road on a quality e-bike. At Jolta, you can find a wide selection of e-bikes that anyone will love. So if you’re looking to take your e-bike on the trails or ride it to work everyday, we have the perfect bike for you. We even have electric bikes for kids!

And if e-bikes aren’t really your speed, check out our vast selection of other options like our e-mopeds or our e-scooters. For any of your personal transportation needs, shop Jolta today.

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