Being in Pinellas County, Florida, we are surrounded by tourist options that attract people to our community from out of the state or even out of the country. These tourists rent scooters, mopeds, and/or motorized bicycles to tour the area. This inevitably leads to people driving conveyances that they are unfamiliar with and, they operate them on roads and sidewalks that they may have never seen before. Sometimes, they operate them after drinking at beach bars or restaurants. Or, they operate them on or around roadways being shared with other tourists who have been drinking after visiting the beach area bars or restaurants. Thus, Pinellas County, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and the surrounding areas have become locations for a high occurrence of scooter, moped and motorized bicycle accidents. By learning in advance about the specifics of insurance and registration requirements, those involved in an unfortunate accident will be better prepared and protected.
There are two types of scooters in Florida. The most common is called a motor scooter. A motor scooter has a seat and is street legal as long as it is registered with the FLHSMV. It cannot be operated on a highway, however. In order to drive it on a road, you have to be at least 16 and have a valid driver’s license. A motor scooter is held to the same laws as operators of other vehicles. So, if you are intoxicated or impaired while driving it, you could actually receive a DUI! A motor scooter is the type of scooter that you will find at beach rental places.
The second type of scooter is called an electric scooter. A conveyance is considered an electric scooter if it has an electric powered motor, cannot exceed 30 mph and does not have a seat. Electric scooters are not street legal, so they cannot be operated on sidewalks or roadways. It does not need to be registered with FLHSMV and you do not need to wear a helmet. However, you must be at least 16 to drive one and have a valid driver’s license.
Scooter accidents are the most common type of accident that we see in Pinellas County. Because scooters are rented to tourists along the beach areas and are sharing the roads with cars, there are constant accidents. Unfortunately, a driver of a scooter colliding with a car almost always results in serious injuries.
A moped is defined as a motor vehicle with pedals, has a seat, has 2-3 wheels, has a motor with a brake, has a 50cc engine or less, cannot exceed 30 mph, and has an automatic transmission. In order to legally drive a moped, the driver must be at least 16 years old and have a class E or motorcycle endorsement. The moped must be registered with FLHSMV and have a license plate. You do not need a title for a moped like you do for a motorcycle. You are not required to wear a helmet or eye protection while riding a moped.
Moped accidents are rare for tourists. Most moped owners do not drive them on the beaches. We see most moped accidents in the interior neighborhoods of Pinellas County and most often in Pinellas Park.
Motorized Bicycle Accidents:
We see many more motorized bicycles in Pinellas County because many dealers advertise them to people without a driver’s license. However, they cannot be operated on roads or sidewalks unless they qualify as a moped. If you do not drive on a sidewalk or a road, you do not need a driver’s license. In Pinellas County, it is extremely difficult to travel anywhere without being on a sidewalk or a road. Thus, the number of people charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license when on a motorized bicycle is high.
A motorized bicycle is defined as having 2 wheels, is propelled by both human and electric power, has a maximum speed of 20 mph and has a seat that is at least 26 inches from the ground.
Motorized bicycle accidents have become much more common as people switch to them as a way of transportation without the necessity of driver’s licenses. Unfortunately, motorized bikes are being operated improperly and many people are being misled by dealers. Many people are learning the hard way after an accident that they have been misled by a salesman.
In Pinellas County, Florida you are not required to carry insurance for scooter, mopeds or motorized bicycles. If you are involved in an accident, you will still be liable for any damage or injuries that you caused. If you are injured by a car or other vehicle who did not carry insurance, you will only be protected if you bought insurance for the scooter, moped or motorized bicycle. So, it is always wise to inquire about purchasing insurance coverage to protect yourself in case you are in an accident.
Scooter, Moped and Motorized Bicycle Accidents:
If you have any questions about how to pursue a claim against someone who injured you after a scooter, moped or motorized bicycle accident, please contact our office. In some circumstances, we have even seen defective equipment being rented to unsuspecting tourists that result in tragic accidents. Our consultations are always free.