Just because most world-class e-skate brands are American-based doesn’t mean that everybody can ride electric skateboards all over the country. Knowing whether electric skateboards are legal or not in the USA can only be possible if the local traffic laws of each state are checked.
Unfortunately, out of the 50 states, only 10 of them have worked on general or specific rules relevant to electric skateboarding. Also, those rules are just based on the laws of one or two cities within the state, not the entire area.
So, there’s still zero guarantees that a skater can ride an e-skate anywhere around the state just because a particular city, town, county, or community allows it. The same idea applies if electric skateboards are illegal at certain places in the state.
Electric Skateboarding in the US
According to Glendale’s Code of Ordinances Chapter 8 (Version: March 11, 2021) regarding motorized skateboards and the State Law about the usage of bikes and play vehicles, it’s illegal to ride e-skates on public properties. That includes roadways, sidewalks, and even city parks.
The city also emphasizes that the parents or legal guardians who allow minors to ride electric skateboards can be penalized as well.
Violating both rules will result in fines. The maximum cost is $150.
The Assembly Bill No. 604 Chapter 777 from the California Legislative Information includes AB-604 for “electrically motorized boards” (2015-2016). Its main goal is to let the local authorities either legalize or prohibit e-skates based on existing terms and laws. This completely makes sense since California is a massive state.
The general rule is to prohibit e-skates from traveling on highways, roadways, and sidewalks. In addition, the rider must be completely free from the influence of any drug and/or alcoholic beverage.
Even when the skaters are on trails or bike paths, they’re still required to wear helmets. And, regardless of their skill level at such a young age, only people who are 16 years old and above can ride electric skateboards in California.
Based on a 2000 research study regarding the legality of motorized skateboards in Connecticut, electric skateboards can be classified as motor vehicles because they work with “nonmuscular power” and can be used for transportation.
However, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is most likely to reject skaters registering their e-skates as motor vehicles due to their inevitable failure in meeting relevant statutory requirements.
Since only registered motor vehicles are allowed on public roads or streets, a person riding top-rated electric skateboard on highways, sidewalks, roadways, and the like can be penalized.
Compared to the previous states, Delaware is particular about motorized skateboards. The 142nd General Assembly of the State Senate had discussed Senate Bill No. 234 to finally set some rules for scooter and e-skate users.
Electric skateboards are illegal on public roads and sidewalks. However, they can be pushed if they’re in neutral mode or if their drive train is disengaged.
Using e-skates on public roads or streets for the first time can lead to fines amounting to $115. For the next offenses, the amount can reach $230. The ultimate punishment is confiscation of the e-skate used.
The safer alternative is to only ride an e-skate on private properties. But, the state requires the skater to ensure permission first from the owner of the property.
If a conflict starts between the owner and the skater, the latter can be forced to pay the fines. And, if there are damages on the property because of the rider’s carelessness, additional charges will be made. If the skater is a minor, the parents or guardians are the ones responsible to pay all the necessary fees.
Meanwhile, skaters who are 16 years old or younger should use a type of helmet suitable for the activity. The bill highly recommends the ANSI Z90.4 and the Snell Memorial Foundation 1984 standards for bike helmets. The penalty for the minor’s parents or guardians who fail to ensure safety can be fined from $25 to $50.
The state doesn’t have an official bill regarding electric skateboards. However, it had a relevant report in 2003 to its 22nd Legislature about the Senate Concurrent Resolution 116.
The subject was related to motorized devices in public places. It was studied by a certain task force gathered by the DOT or the Department of Transportation. It was very important since personal motorized devices were becoming more popular and the Revised Statutes of Hawaii hadn’t regulated them yet.
Electric skateboards and the like share similar state laws in general. The task force emphasized them all.
Motorized skateboards in Hawaii don’t need registration, but they’re only allowed on single lanes or two-way roads. They shouldn’t exceed 25 miles per hour. They must only be used during the daytime as well.
If multiple e-skates are traveling even on a one-way street, the riders should still move in a single file while avoiding the left side. Electric bikes usually move to the left.
Speaking of bikes, some of their special lanes can be shared with electric skateboards. However, skaters need to follow the rules if a particular lane doesn’t allow e-skates.
Meanwhile, no e-skate rider is allowed to pull stunts like letting another person join the ride. Cargo is prohibited, too.
Wyandotte County allows traditional skateboards on certain streets, according to its Code of Ordinances Chapter 35 Article XIV (Version: February 22, 2021) regarding the use of play vehicles. Unfortunately, it has a different rule for the motorized type, which is too harsh for e-skate enthusiasts.
Electric skateboarding isn’t allowed at all regardless of the street’s location. Obviously, that rule also applies to highways and roads.
Luckily for e-skate users in Michigan, the lawmakers in the state were quite supportive of the use of electric skateboards for transportation. Based on a news report, their goal was to make those devices legal as vehicles on the streets.
The conditions for the e-skate riders were to keep the speed under 25 mph, let the pedestrians pass first, travel to the right side at all times, and install reflectors or lights for visibility.
In 2018, the House had managed to propose the bill to the Senate. It’s still under consideration.
Even though the Code of Ordinances (2016) in Oxford doesn’t specify e-skates, it defines a “skateboard” as a device that can be powered by an electric motor.
There’s no official statement on whether electric skateboards are legal or not in the city. However, the Helmet Ordinance includes skateboards. It requires all users to wear a helmet no matter what.
The NJ A2382 2020-2021 is based on the California law about motorized skateboards. E-skate users in New Jersey should always wear helmets in the right size with very reliable safety features for a more secure fit.
Additionally, no matter how skilled the child is, e-skate riders younger than 16 years old are prohibited to travel around the state. If violated, the parents or guardians might pay fines costing $25. The penalty for the next violation can reach $100.
Meanwhile, adult skaters aren’t allowed to travel more than 10 mph regardless of their skill level.
Motorized skateboards are legal in the state but with certain conditions as discussed in the Code of Virginia Title 46.2 Subtitle III Chapter 8 Article 12 (46.2-908.1). The first one is about speed. Electric skateboards must never exceed 20 mph.
When it comes to the age limit, the state allows younger electric skateboarders, unlike most places. Children ages 14 and above can freely ride their e-skates. On the other hand, kids younger than 14 years old require direct adult supervision.
Now, most streets allow electric skateboards. The only area specified where e-skates aren’t allowed is the Interstate Highway System.
The Vagueness of Electric Skateboard Laws in USA
Why are specific e-skate laws so rare in the US? The main reason is the market status of electric skateboards[Electric Skateboard Market Status].
Despite their growing popularity for the past few years, electric skateboards are still less popular than electric bikes and scooters, hoverboards, and even traditional skateboards. Factors like the expensive price of most high-quality options as well as the skill or knowledge level required to safely operate and maintain electric skateboards[How to Maintain Electric Skateboard] affect the popularity of the device.
So, will it be okay to ride electric skateboards in places without laws relevant to the device? The safest thing to do is to only limit the ride’s coverage within private areas. Public streets, sidewalks, and highways are usually monitored by the authorities.
Since some of the ordinances, bills, or laws discussed here are quite old, it’s best for skaters to personally check the current regulations in their local area before attempting to travel with their electric skateboards.