Lynne from Westminster writes, “What’s driving you crazy? Hi Jayson, I’m new to Colorado and thought you might be able to help with a traffic law question. I’ve been told two different opinions. Does a 49cc moped require a full drivers license or is a permit and 16 years old sufficient? My daughter just got her permit. Thank you!”
Lynne, riding scooters when you are a kid is a lot of fun. I used to ride one around the neighborhood when I was a kid. I had several close calls and was in a neighborhood with very light traffic. I can’t imagine letting either of my daughters ride one now with the way so many people drive while distracted.
The state of Colorado defines a low‑power scooter as, “a self-propelled vehicle designed primarily for use on the roadways with not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, no manual clutch, and either of the following: a cylinder capacity not exceeding fifty cubic centimeters (50cc), if powered by internal combustion; or a wattage not exceeding 4,476, if powered by electricity”.
In Colorado, an operator of a low‑power scooter is required to have a valid driver license or a minor driver license so your 16 year-old daughter, when she gets her valid license, can ride it. However, since your daughter is under the age of 18, she is required to wear a helmet and eye protection. Sunglasses or safety glasses like from shop class should be just fine.
You also have to register the scooter through the state department of revenue like you do for a car. It costs $5.85 per scooter and you put the numbered decal on the frame. It is good for 3 years. But before you can register the scooter, you need to prove you have a motor vehicle insurance policy or a certificate of self‑insurance. You also need to have “secure and verifiable identification” to register it.
The application for registration must be submitted by either the person or agent from whom the scooter was purchased. That person will be responsible for providing required documentation to the State Registration Section. Or you will have to fill in the application yourself if you brought it with you from your move to Colorado. Here is the link to that form.
Also remember that the scooter can’t be driven on any interstate or major highway, except where a bicycle could be used; on any limited-access road of the state highway system; or on any sidewalk, unless it is specifically allowed. Low-power scooters are allowed on roads and also in bicycle lanes. Just watch out for the slower bike riders.
Low-power scooters are also not supposed to be driven over 40 miles per hour and if the rider is stopped, that person could face fines and penalty points like any other driver. And like any other driver, scootering under the influence of drugs or alcohol is forbidden.
Some cities and communities may also impose other restrictions and regulate low‑power scooter operation under their specific jurisdiction. You have to check where you live to see if there are other special requirements before riding the scooter.
It should be without saying that riding a scooter is more dangerous for the rider than driving a car. Like a motorcycle, the best safety equipment is a hyper awareness of the surroundings and the protective clothes you wear. And unlike motorcycles, these low-power scooters are small enough to get lost in the blind spots of larger vehicles. They are also typically quieter than a motorcycle so they are frequently unheard by drivers in a closed car or truck.
Welcome to Colorado and tell your daughter to be careful out there.
Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Podbean.