Moped Laws: Midwest

Revision as of 14:01, 2 February 2010 by Aph1979 (talk | contribs)

Laws for legal moped usage vary by state in America. You may be able to find information on your state's transportation website but the following are likely to be more useful as some states make it hard to find moped related information


Moped Definition
The following four criteria must be met in order to be considered a moped; otherwise it is a motor-driven cycle and requires a Class L license. If all four criteria are met, the operator of a moped may drive it with any valid driver’s license of any classification.

  1. A motorized pedalcycle is a motor-driven cycle with speed attainable in one mile of 30 mph or less.
  2. Equipped with a motor that produces 2-brake horsepower or less.
  3. If an internal combustion engine is used, displacement shall not exceed 50cc.
  4. Power drive system shall not require the operator to shift gears.

Licensing, Registration, and Insurance

  • You must have a valid drivers license
  • You must have a title for the moped,
  • You must register the moped with the state
  • You must have plates on the moped
  • You must have insurance for the moped.

If you do not have a title, you will need a bill of sale from a state that does not require one. Close states that fit this criteria are Indiana and Missouri.

  • The bill of sale needs to state Year, Make, Model and if you can put that the moped is 49cc or under, that helps.
  • $25 sales tax
  • $130 registration/title/plates
  • If problems arise, find the nearest vehicle titling/registration buisiness, they will give you no problems, although there will be a small fee (usually around $20).

Another way to get a title for any untitled vehicle, including a moped:

  • Have the vehicle appraised by a third party. For mopeds, this will probably be a motorcycle dealer.
  • Put up a deposit in the amount of one and a half times the appraisal value. This deposit is refundable after three years, and exists in case someone else makes a valid claim on the vehicle.
  • Pay the regular fees for title and plates. $65 for title, $38 for plates for one year.

Rules and Regulations

  • Must obey all signs, signals and traffic laws and most bicycle laws.
  • Drivers may carry a passenger only when the moped is made for two people. Equipment must include a passenger seat and a passenger footrest.
  • If a moped is driven at night, it must have a headlight visible from at least 500 feet and have a red reflector on the rear visible from at least 100 to 600 feet
  • Helmets are not required in Illinois, but eye protection is.

Taken from and Cyberdriveillinois.


Moped Definition
A "motorized bicycle," or moped, is motor vehicle having a saddle or a seat for the use of a rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, and not capable of operating at a speed in excess of 30 miles per hour on level ground unassisted by human power. The maximum speed of 30mph needs to be printed on the certificate of origin from the manufacturer.

  • The new definition for a moped written above replaces the reference to "an engine having a displacement of no greater than 50cc" The change in the definition allows electric motors or electric engines to be used as a source for moped propulsion.
  • Additionally, for a moped to be classified as a motor vehicle, it must be able to travel at a speed of at least 20mph while driving up a 3 percent grade. If a vehicle cannot go 20mph up a 3 percent grade, it is not permitted to be operated on Iowa's streets and roadways

Moped Licensing and Registration
Any person with an adult operator's license, chaufferur license, commercial driver's license or an intermediate license may operate a moped. No motorcycle license is required. If someone does not have an adult operator's license, they are still allowed to drive a moped if they fall into one of the categories below.

  1. Adults (age 18 and older) who do not have a driver's license must be issued a moped permit. The standard operator's knowledge examination and a vision screening are required. Skills testing may be required at the discretion of the driver’s licensing examiner
  2. Persons age 16 through 17 who do not have at least an intermediate license must be issued a moped permit, under the same conditions as listed in the previous paragraph.
  3. Persons age 14 through 15 must be issued a moped permit, but must first complete a moped rider education course approved by the Iowa Department of Transportation. The standard operator's knowledge examination and a vision screening are required. Skills testing may be required at the discretion of the DOT examiner.

To register any motor vehicle in Iowa, you must have the Manufacturer's certification label on your vehicle stating that the it meets federal motor vehicle safety standard. Without a manufacturer's certification label, vehicles cannot be titled or registered.

Moped traffic laws

  1. Helmets are not required to operate a moped or motorcycle
  2. Passengers are not allowed on any mopeds.
  3. A moped must be equipped with a safety flag that extends not less than 5 feet above the ground attached to the rear of the moped. The safety flag must be triangular in shape, with an area of not less than 30 square inches, and be Day-Glo in color.
  4. Mopeds may not be operated side by side in the same traffic lane.
  5. Mopeds must not be operated between lanes of traffic, adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
  6. Mopeds must have a lighted headlamp at all times when operated on a public street or roadway.
  7. Moped operators must not carry a package, bundle or other article that prevents the operator from keeping both hands on the handlebars.

Taken from


Motorized Bicycle Definition

"Motorized bicycle" means every device having two tandem wheels or three wheels, which may be propelled by either human power or helper motor, or by both, and which has

  1. A motor which produces not more than 3.5 brake horsepower;
  2. A cylinder capacity of not more than 130 cubic centimeters;
  3. An automatic transmission; and
  4. The capability of a maximum design speed of no more than 30 miles per hour.
    • In Article 8-1439a, the fourth requirement reads, "The capability of a maximum design speed of no more than 30 miles per hour except a low power cycle."
(Taken from Kansas Statutes 8-1439a)
  • Does a moped have to have pedals to be registered as a motorized bicycle in Kansas?
Yes and no. The law above states that the device must be propelled by either human power or helper motor or both. If "helper motor" means that the motor must help the pedals (like on a moped) rather than doing all the work by itself (like on a scooter or noped), then yes, a device must have pedals to be registered as a motorized bicycle. However, all or almost all of the 50cc nopeds and scooters in Kansas are currently registered as motorized bicycles, have motorized bicycle tags, and are subject to the same regulations as motorized bicycles. Thus, it is likely but not guaranteed that you would be able to register a pedal-less moped in Kansas as a motorized bicycle.
Also see the motorized bicycle question at the Kansas Department of Revenue FAQs

Motorized Bicycle Licensing and Registration

Riders must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  1. Have a valid driver's license which entitles the licensee to operate a motor vehicle in any class
  2. Be at least 15 years of age and have passed the written and vision exams to obtain a Class C driver's license
  3. Obtain a license that restricts the rider to operating a motorized bicycle only (for individuals with suspended licenses -- see section d of Statute 8-235)
(Taken from the Kansas Driver's License Information Handbook)

Motorized bicycles must be registered with the state per Kansas Statute 8-127. Because Kansas titles and registers mopeds, ownership of any moped bought from a Kansas resident must be transferred with the title. A Kansas resident will not be able to register an un-titled motorized bicycle if it was bought from another Kansas resident or from a resident of another titling state. However, ownership of motorized bicycles can be transferred with a bill of sale if the seller is a resident of a non-titling state. (Missouri is a non-titling state.) Official Missouri bill of sale form

Sometimes, the person at the treasurer's office may ask if the out-of-state moped has been inspected, and if it has not, they will require an inspection for it before they hand out plates. However, under the FAQ's at the Kansas Department of Revenue website, the question that asks, "Does Kansas require any type of vehicle inspection to apply for and/or renew a title?" has an answer (#6) that says "Motorized bicycle and a mobile or manufactured home are NOT required to be inspected." Of course, #2 also says that out of state vehicles DO need to be inspected. It's unclear whether #2 trumps #6 or vice versa, but bringing a printed copy of this page while trying to get a title for an out-of-state moped is likely to help your case (although the people at the treasurer's office could still require an inspection if they feel like being obstinate that day).

Motorized Bicycle Rules and Regulations

  • Riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet approved for motorcycle or other motorized vehicle use. (Kansas Statues 8-1598)
  • Motorcycles, motor-driven cycles and motorized bicycles manufactured after January 1, 1978, shall display lighted head and tail lights at all times that such vehicles are operated on any highway. (Kansas Statutes 8-1703 b)
  • Statutes in Article 18 are for motorcycles and "motor-driven cycles." The definition section (see Article 14) for Article 18 states that a "motor-driven cycle" is: "Motor-driven cycle" means every motorcycle, including every motor scooter, with a motor which produces not to exceed five brake horsepower, and every bicycle with motor attached, except a motorized bicycle or an electric-assisted bicycle. Thus, these regulations do not apply to motorized bicycles. (There is no official definition for "motor scooter.")
  • However, motorized bicycles are subject to the same regulations as bicycles (Statutes 8-1587 to 8-1592a) including but not limited to:
    • Obey all rules of road except those rules which are not applicable based on the nature of the vehicle
    • Do not carry more people than the bicycle was designed to carry
    • When going under the speed limit, ride as far to the right as possible
    • The headlamp must emit a white light visible from 500 feet (does not specify speed at which light must be visible from 500 feet)
    • Rear must be equipped with a red reflector visible from 100-600 feet when lighted by another vehicle's headlights
    • Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement

Regarding Insurance

The Kansas Automobile Injury Reparations Act (40-3104) requires all motor vehicles to be insured with minimum liability coverage. However, the definitions section of this act (40-3103) says, "Motor vehicle" means every self-propelled vehicle of a kind required to be registered in this state, including any trailer, semitrailer or pole trailer designed for use with such vehicle, but such term does not include a motorized bicycle.

Search the Kansas Legislature website here for full text of laws cited in this section.


  • A moped is defined as a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with a motor which has no more than 50cc piston displacement producing two brake horsepower or less.
  • A moped must have a power drive system that does not require shifting gears and cannot have a top speed exceeding 30 mph on level surfaces.
  • If you have a valid motor vehicle license, you are allowed to operate a moped on public roadways.
  • If you do not have a valid license and are at least age 15, you may apply for a moped license at a Secretary of State branch office.
  • Mopeds must follow the same traffic rules as other motor vehicles.
  • Mopeds must be registered at a Secretary of State branch office unless operated solely on private property.
  • Mopeds do not require license plates.
  • There is a $15 fee for a three-year registration decal.
  • Moped operators under the age of 19 must wear a helmet.
  • Mopeds may not carry passengers.
  • Mopeds may not be ridden on bicycle paths.

Taken from Michigan secretary of State moped pages.


  • A moped means a bicycle that is propelled by an electric or a liquid fuel motor of a piston displacement capacity of 50 cubic centimeters or less, and a maximum of two brake horsepower, which is capable of a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on a flat surface with not more than one percent grade in any direction when the motor is engaged
  • You must have a driver's license in order to drive a moped legally
  • If you are under the age of 16, you can drive a moped by taking classes and obtaining a moped endorcement
  • Protective headgear is required for persons under 18
  • A moped can be driven at night as long as it is equipped with a headlight and taillght, meeting the requirements of lighting for motorcycles
  • Any bike made after June 1, 1987 must have a headlight
  • Insurance is required
  • A title or proof of sale (with a photograph of the moped) is required for registration
  • Moped plate issued
  • Does not require inspection.


Taken from MO Dept. of Revenue site

Licensing for a scooter or moped depends on whether the vehicle meets the definition of a motorized bicycle. The Missouri statute definition of a motorized bicycle is as follows:

"Any two-wheeled or three-wheeled device having an automatic transmission and a motor with a cylinder capacity of not more than fifty (50) cubic centimeters, which produces less than three (3) gross brake horsepower, and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than thirty (30) miles per hour on level ground."

A motorized bicycle does not have to be registered with the Missouri Department of Revenue. However, you must have a valid driver license (though no motorcycle endorsement is required).

Missouri statute does not require a helmet to be worn when operating a motorized bicycle. Please contact your local law enforcement agencies for any county/municipal codes that deal with helmets and motorized bicycles.

Keep in mind that no motorized bicycle may be operated on any public thoroughfare located within this state that has been designated as part of the federal interstate highway system.


Information from Ohio BMV Moped Information.

The moped operator must:

  • wear a protective helmet with chin strap properly fastened if under age 18
  • drive a moped equipped with a rear view mirror
  • operate the moped within three feet of the right edge of the roadway when practical
  • never carry another person on the moped

Many of the licensing and registration procedures required for automobiles and motorcycles are the same for mopeds:

  • To become licensed to operate a moped, 14 and 15-year-olds must pass the usual vision and written tests, as well as a road test. This rule also applies to persons not currently holding a valid operator's license, regardless of age.
  • Probationary motorized bicycle licenses are required for 14 and 15-year-old operators.
  • The probationary license can be revoked until the age of 16 if, EVEN ONE TIME, the operator violates state laws regulating moped operation or state or local traffic laws.
  • Operators are required to obtain and display a rear license plate.

The Ohio Revised Code defines a moped, or motorized bicycle, as any vehicle with two tandem wheels or one front and two rear wheels which is capable of being pedaled and is also equipped with a helper motor. The helper motor may not:

  • have a piston displacement of more than 50 cubic centimeters
  • produce more than one brake horsepower
  • propel the vehicle at a maximum speed greater than 20 mph on a level surface.

In addition, only mopeds on the Approved Models list may legally be operated as "mopeds" in Ohio.

In addition to what is posted above, the following is listed in the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws:

Equipment Regulations

a. a working muffler and exhaust system, with no cutouts or bypasses

b. a firmly attached seat for the operator. the top of the seat must be at least 25 inches above the ground.

c. at least one and no more than two headlights

d. a tailight with a reflective lense

e. a brake light

f. a set of handlebars that are equipped with safety grips and are positioned no higher than 15 inches above the seat

g. a horn or other audible signaling device that can be heard at least 100 feet away. Sirens and whistles are not permitted.

Financial Responsibility

Although not required by law, insurance is highly recommended. Section 4509.01 (I) of the Ohio Revised Code, which deals with the state minimum requirement for financial responsibility, reads:

Motor vehicle means every vehicle propelled by power other than muscular power or power collected from overhead electric trolley wires, except motorized bicycles...

Therefore, motorized bicycles are exempt from the state requirement for insurance. This is the only section of the Ohio Revised Code that separates the requirements for motor vehicles and motorized bicycles and many other requirements for motor vehicles apply. Few if any law enforcement officers know of this loophole and will cite you for lack of insurance if stopped. If you're going to ride uninsured please keep a copy of this section handy for reference and be prepared.

South Dakota

  • A valid class 1 license is needed
  • Moped must be 50cc or under
  • Some form or eye protection must be worn
  • Title, registration, insurance, and license plates are NOT required
  • Under 18 years of age riders must wear a helmet
  • Mirror and horn are required on the bike


  • Any class licence
  • No more than 30 mph on level ground with a 150 pound driver, and no wind
  • Allowed to park anyplace a bicycle is allowed
  • No insurance or inspection
  • Title, registration and plates are required.
  • No daylight headlight requirement
  • No helmet requirement
  • Mopeds cannot carry passengers
  • No flag requirement
  • ≤ 50cc with single speed or automatic transmission, or ≤ 130cc with pedals.

U.S. Moped Laws by region
Midwest IllinoisIowaKansasMichiganMinnesotaMissouriOhioSouth DakotaWisconsin
West ArizonaCaliforniaColoradoHawai'iMontanaNevadaNew MexicoOregonUtahWashington