California Motor Vehicle Code 21224
Motorized Scooter Exemptions
According to California law, motorized scooters do not have to be registered by the state. This rule applies to scooters designed to allow the rider to stand on a platform, motorized bicycles, and mopeds designed to travel less than 30 mph. For any of these modes of travel, there is no requirement for licensing, registration, or insurance.
Local authorities are free to place parking restrictions and bicycle lane restrictions on scooters if they so choose. These restrictions may not interfere with the state laws on motorized scooter operation. If the speed limit on the roadway is greater than 25 mph, then you must ride your scooter inside the bike lane.
Scooters are not required to have horns, mirrors, or other similar features that would be required on motorcycles and cars. If the scooter was designed to have a muffler (many mopeds have this feature) then the muffler must be functional.
Scooters must be lighted after dark. The light is only required on the front, so the scooter operator can see what any hazards in the road. A rear light is not required, but there must be some sort of reflector on the rear and sides of the scooter that is visible to oncoming cars. Even though not required, it is a good idea to have some form of rear flashing or stationary light. If a rear light is used, it must be red.
This vehicle code does not apply to Vespas, Hondas and other faster and more powerful scooters. If your scooter is designed to travel at speeds faster than 30 mph, then you are considered a motorcycle under California laws. These scooters must be registered with the state DMV, and you must have an M1 or M2 motorcycle license to operate them.