Do You Need a License for an Electric Bike? A State-by-State Breakdown

license for ebike

Electric bicycles are becoming increasingly popular, giving people an affordable, practical, and environmentally friendly way to get around. As more people hop on the bandwagon, lawmakers are increasingly regulating e-bikes.

For example, many states have helmet requirements for e-bike riders. If you’re getting an e-bike, knowing your local rules is important.

But do you need a license to ride an e-bike? While there are clear rules for motor vehicles, motorcycles, and mopeds, the licensing requirements for electric bicycles are less well-known.

Read on for a state-by-state roundup of e-bike licensing laws.

Federal regulations on electric bikes

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, a vehicle is considered a “low-speed electric bicycle” (instead of a car or motorcycle) if it meets these criteria:

  • The vehicle has two or three wheels.
  • The vehicle has fully operable pedals.
  • The electric motor can’t produce more than 750 watts of power.
  • The motor can’t go more than 20 miles per hour when powered only by the motor. (It can still technically go faster than 20 mph if the rider is pedaling. However, if only the electric assist moves the e-bike forward, 20 mph is the maximum speed.)

Classes of e-bike

E-bikes are categorized into classes based on their motor power and functionality. The main question is whether a bike offers only pedal assist or pedal assist and throttle assist.

Although every state has its own e-bike classifications, there are some general industry-accepted definitions of e-bike classes:

  • Class 1. These bikes only have pedal assist and can’t exceed 20 mph.
  • Class 2. These bikes have throttle and pedal assist and can’t exceed 20 mph.
  • Class 3. These bikes can reach top speeds of 28 mph. They may or may not have throttle assist and pedal assist.

State-by-state breakdown of electric bike laws

States not only have different definitions for motorized bicycles and their classifications, but they also have different e-bike laws. Everything from where you can ride your e-bike to whether you need to wear a helmet can vary, depending on your location.

Understanding the variation in state laws

E-bike laws depend on the jurisdiction. Even within a state, regulations can differ based on the location. Take a look at the state of Florida, for example.

Florida law allows e-bike riders to go anywhere where a standard bike is allowed. This could include bike lanes, bike paths, multi-use or shared-use paths, and roads and roadway shoulders. However, certain jurisdictions in Florida have outlawed e-bikes: Sanibel Island is one example.

Our point? Always check with the relevant local authority before riding your e-bike. Your local department of motor vehicles (DMV), police department, department of transportation (DOT), or general municipal authority may have information.

Now, what about licensing laws? Again, every state has its own rules. We break down the basics below. These laws always change, so check your current legislation for applicable rules.

License requirements for electric bikes in each state

State License required?  Age requirements
Alabama Yes You must be at least 14 years old to use an e-bike.
Alaska Yes You must be at least 14 years old to use an e-bike.
Arizona No None
Arkansas No You must be at least 16 years old to ride a Class 3 e-bike.
California No You must be at least 16 years old to operate an e-bike.
Colorado No You must be at least 16 years old to ride a Class 3 e-bike.
Connecticut No You must be at least 16 years old to ride a Class 3 e-bike.
Delaware No None
District of Columbia No You must be at least 16 years old to operate an e-bike.
Florida No You must be at least 16 years old to use an e-bike.
Georgia No You must be at least 15 years old to operate an e-bike.
Hawaii Yes You must be 18 years old to register an e-bike. You can operate an e-bike at 15 years old if it’s registered to someone in your household.
Idaho No You must be at least 15 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Illinois No You must be at least 16 years old to ride a Class 3 e-bike.
Indiana No You must be at least 15 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Iowa No You must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Kansas No None
Kentucky No None
Louisiana No You must be at least 12 years old to ride a Class 3 e-bike.
Maine No You must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 2 or Class 3 e-bike.
Maryland No You must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Massachusetts Yes You must be at least 16 years old to use an e-bike.
Michigan No You must be at least 14 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Minnesota No You must be at least 15 years old to operate an e-bike.
Mississippi No You must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Missouri Yes You must be at least 16 years old to use an e-bike.
Montana No None
Nebraska No None
Nevada No None
New Hampshire  No You must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
New Jersey For Class 3 e-bikes You must be at least 15 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
New Mexico Yes You must be at least 15 years old to operate an e-bike.
New York No You must be at least 16 years old to ride an e-bike.
North Carolina No You must be at least 16 years old to ride an e-bike.
North Dakota Yes You must be at least 14 years old to use an e-bike.
Ohio No None
Oklahoma No You must be at least 16 years old to ride an e-bike.
Oregon No You must be at least 16 years old to ride an e-bike.
Pennsylvania No You must be at least 16 years old to operate an e-bike.
Rhode Island No None
South Carolina No None
South Dakota No You must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Tennessee No You must be at least 14 years old to ride a Class 3 e-bike. 
Texas No You must be at least 15 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Utah No You must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike. You must be at least 14 years old to operate any e-bike with the motor engaged.
Vermont No You must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Virginia No You must be at least 14 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Washington No You must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
West Virginia No You must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Wisconsin No You must be at least 16 years old to operate a Class 3 e-bike.
Wyoming No None

How to get a license for an e-bike

As you can see, e-bike licensing requirements vary significantly. The process for getting an e-bike license, if needed, depends on the local ordinance.

For example, in North Dakota, you have to have a valid driver’s license (for a car). So, the process might involve passing a test about traffic laws and completing a practical exam.

In Alabama, you must apply for a motorcycle license with a “B” restriction. This applies if you aren’t old enough to operate a motorcycle but are old enough to operate an e-bike.

Tips for safe e-bike riding

Researching your local e-bike laws is the first step to safe riding. Other steps you can take to protect yourself include:

  • Wearing protective gear. Get a good helmet, reflective vest, and eye protection to maintain visibility.
  • Maintaining your e-bike. Keep your e-bike in good condition to avoid malfunctions. This maintenance checklist can help.
  • Following the rules of the road. Obey traffic laws, such as stopping at red lights and stop signs, and speed limits.

Take off on your next ride with an e-bike from Velotric

Educating yourself about e-bike laws like licensing requirements can ensure safe and responsible riding, protecting yourself and those around you. Another step you can take to stay safe? Investing in a quality e-bike.

Velotric’s Nomad 1 and Discover 1 e-bikes let you ride with confidence. You get a sturdy frame tested over 150,000 times, a top-quality battery recognized  by Underwriters Laboratories (UL2271), and a one-year warranty. Additionally, Discover 1’s Step-Thru model is already UL2849 certified and the Nomad 1 is currently undergoing this certification.

Find your e-bike.


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