Salem Police Department
95 Margin Street, Salem, MA 01970 •  Non-Emergency Request for Police 978-744-1212 •  Business 978-744-0171 •  In an Emergency, ALWAYS DIAL 911

Each year, as the weather improves, many residents have questions concerning the legal status of "Motor Scooters". The The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles does not register motorized scooters because they are not recognized as motor vehicles. The following information is a helpful resource in answering your questions about scooters, motorized bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles.

Motorized Scooters

A "motorized scooter" is defined as being any two-wheeled tandem or three wheeled device that has handlebars, can be stood or sat upon by the operator and is powered by an electric or gas powered motor is defined as a Motorized Scooter.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles does not register motorized scooters because they are not recognized as motor vehicles. In addition, motorized scooters have many operating restrictions:

  • They cannot be operated at speeds greater than 20mph.
  • Cannot be ridden on state highways or limited access roadways.
  • Cannot be ridden after dark or before sunrise.
  • Operators cannot carry passengers.
  • Operators must be 16 years of age and have a valid driver's license or learner's permit.
  • Operators must keep to the right side of public ways at all times, including when passing a motor vehicle.
  • Operators must use the proper electronic and hand signals before stopping or turning.
  • Operators must wear an approved safety helmet.
  • Operators are subject to all state traffic laws and regulations

*Mini-motorcycles and pocket bikes have been determined to be motorized scooters.

Motorized Bicycle

A "motorized bicycle" is defined as being any pedal bicycle which has a helper motor or a non-pedal bicycle with a motor that does not exceed 50 cubic centimeters of cylinder capacity, has an automatic transmission and cannot go faster than 30 miles an hour meets the legal definition of a motorized bicycle. Mopeds fall under the category of motorized bicycles.

Motorized Bicycles are regulated by a registration process with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Applications can be downloaded on-line at massrmv.com or are available at any registry branch. Operators must have a registration decal affixed to the rear of the vehicle and are subject to the following operating restrictions:

  • They cannot be operated at speeds greater than 25mph.
  • Cannot be ridden on state highways or limited access roadways where signs prohibiting bicycles are posted.
  • Cannot be ridden on off-street recreational paths but can use bicycle lanes along roadways.
  • Operators must use the proper electronic and hand signals before stopping or turning.
  • Operators must be 16 years of age and have a valid driver's license or learner's permit.
  • Operators and passengers must wear approved safety helmets.
  • Operators are subject to all state traffic laws and regulations.
  • Operators cannot carry a passenger while operating on a permit.

*Violations of motorized bicycles operating restrictions are subject to fines of up to $100.

Motorcycle

A motorcycle is defined as any motor vehicle that has a seat or saddle for the rider that is designed to travel with no more than three wheels contacting the ground, except a tractor or a golf cart or a motor vehicle in which the operator and passenger ride within an enclosed cab.

Motorcycles are considered motor vehicles and must be registered as a motorcycle under the following criteria:

  • The certificate of origin (C/O) identifies the body type as a "motorcycle".
  • It meets the state law definition of a motorcycle.
  • The manufacturer certifies the vehicle meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for a motorcycle.

Motorcycles must be operated under the following restrictions:

  • The operator must have a class M license or a motorcycle endorsement on a class A, B, C or D driver's license.
  • The operator must wear an approved safety helmet and eye protection.

NOTE: A vehicle that is identified as a motorcycle by the certificate of origin with a maximum speed of 40 mph or less but greater than 30mph (medium speed vehicle) can not be registered. However, an RMV Task Force is in the process of drafting legislation that will allow the limited and safe operation of medium speed motorcycles.

The paperwork you receive from the seller is the first thing to look at to determine if a two or three wheeled vehicle can be registered and operated in Massachusetts.

If you buy a new Motorcycle or Motorized Bicycle from a dealership they must provide you with the manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (C/O). This document shows how the manufacturer and federal government define the body type and the cubic centimeters (cc) of the engine. Some C/Os will not have the cubic centimeters listed but will show horse power (hp). If you are purchasing a motorized bicycle make sure you find out the vehicles cubic centimeters and maximum speed.

New and older vehicles by law must have a manufacturers label permanently affixed to the vehicle near the base of the handlebars. This label certifies that the vehicle meets all the federal safety highway standards for the type of vehicle listed.

Remember, no matter what two or three-wheeled vehicle you have, if you are operating them on the roads of the Commonwealth they are subject to all motor vehicle laws and you could be cited by law enforcement for any vehicle violation.

Check the Following Links for More Information

Salem Police Department 95 Margin Street, Salem, MA 01970 •  Non-Emergency Request for Police 978-744-1212 •  Business 978-744-0171 •  In an Emergency, ALWAYS DIAL 911
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