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Author: Alex

California’s Motorcycle License Requirement

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding California’s motorcycle license requirement, which is why we get asked “Do I need a license to drive one of these scooters?” more than any other question. The short answer is that you do need a motorcycle license to ride a scooter, no matter the size of the scooter, if it has an engine and 2 wheels you will need a Motorcycle license to operate it in California. For evidence of this, see the DMV’s page “Motorcycles, mopeds, scooters defined.”

Most of the confusion on this issue comes out of how the word “scooter” is used. We always use this word to refer to Vespa and Genuine scooters etc., but the California Vehicle Code, for instance, defines “scooter” as something completely different from the Vespas and other scooters that we sell at Vespa Motorsport. Legally then, the scooters at Vespa Motorsport are either designated “motorcycles” (if they have 150cc or more) or “motor-driven cycles” (if they have fewer than 150cc). At the DMV page linked above, for instance, they show an image of a 49cc Yamaha and define it as a “motor-driven cycle” that requires an M1 motorcycle license.

Thus, a motorcycle license is required for all of the “scooters” we sell, and scooters with 150cc or more are freeway legal.

One caveat: if a scooter or motorcycle has 3 wheels, such as the Piaggio MP3, it does not require a motorcycle license in California. A class C, car license, will suffice for these. That being said, we still highly recommend a Motorcycle license to operate one of these vehicles.

How do I get an M1 license in California?

To get a motorcycle license in California, there are two easy steps:

Step 1: Take the DMV’s 25-question permit test. You can take a sample test, schedule an appointment, or find the motorcycle handbook all available on the DMV website Click here.

Step 2: Take a motorcycle safety course (OR take the DMV’s driving test after you complete step 1).

That’s it! The good news is that getting a license in California is a pretty easy, 2-step process. The further good news is that once you get an M1 permit or an M1 license, you can visit Vespa Motorsport and test-drive some of our scooters!

Should I Take a Motorcycle Safety Course?

Anytime someone without a motorcycle license visits Vespa Motorsport, we recommend that they take a CHP-certified motorcycle safety class. There are many advantages to these classes and they’re a fun and enlightening way to get introduced to the world of two wheels.

The advantages to a safety course are many:

  • Safety courses emphasize defensive driving.
  • A CHP-certified course means you do not have to take the DMV’s driving test.
  • Insurance companies offer lower insurance rates to graduates.
  • You’ll be a safer rider!

In fact, we’ve never had someone visit our shop and tell us they regretted taking a safety course. Everyone swears by it!

If you are here in San Diego County, you can find the nearest CHP-certified motorcycle safety course by visiting the website of the California Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Alternately, if you’re in the city of San Diego, check out the Pacific Safety Council, our local CHP- and MSF-certified course location.

Once you have an M1 license or permit, you’re legal to participate in the Vespa Motorsport test-drive program!

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