by Kyle McCarty
In Washington State, street-legal, two and three-wheeled vehicles can be defined as a moped or a motor-driven cycle (scooter or motorcycle). It all depends upon engine size and speed.
A large number of riders do not know that (most) scooters require an endorsement.
Mopeds vs. Scooters: What’s the difference?
Simply put, a scooter is a two or three-wheeled vehicle that is 50 cc’s or larger and can go faster than 30 mph. A moped is a two or three-wheeled vehicle that is less than 50 cc’s and cannot travel faster than 30 mph.
Scooters, motorcycles and trikes that are 50 cc’s or larger and can go faster than 30 mph must be licensed. All of these vehicles are legally defined as motor-driven cycles. Riders must possess a valid driver license with the appropriate endorsement.
Mopeds that are 49 cc’s or smaller and cannot go faster than 30 mph must be licensed. These vehicles are legally defined as mopeds. Riders must possess a valid driver license.
In Washington, there are separate endorsements for two and three-wheeled vehicles. A rider will need a category 3 endorsement for a two-wheeled vehicle; while a three-wheeled vehicle requires a category 5 endorsement. If the rider successfully passes knowledge and riding skills tests for both two and three-wheeled vehicles, he or she can opt to add a category 7 endorsement to his or her license.
In an effort to help our community better understand the laws and risks of riding, the Washington Motorcycle Safety Program offers the following resources: