In general, in the United States and most other countries, you need a driving license to drive an electric car. It’s treated no differently from a fuel-powered car since it poses the same risks of accidents.
However, there are some electric vehicles that you can drive around without a driving license. The two most common such vehicles are golf carts and electric scooters.
French automaker Citroën has launched a small electric car called Ami. It’s one of the few vehicles that you can drive without a license.
The rationale is that if the vehicle doesn’t achieve a high speed, you can drive it without a license.
Street Legal Vehicles That Don’t Require a License
At present, you can only drive golf carts and electric scooters without a license. Electric bicycles also fall under the same category, as do a few compact city electric cars.
In the United States, you need a driving license for most electric cars. If you are driving a Tesla, you must have a valid driving license.
Some cars are given leeway in terms of driving license requirements because they are considered safe enough for everyone to drive. These cars generally have a low top speed (around 60 miles per hour) and an even lower average road speed.
If you want to drive a car in the United States without a license, you have to find an electric vehicle that has a low top speed and mileage. Anything that has a high top speed requires a driving license.
Can You Drive a Moped Without a License?
As we mentioned already, you do need a license to drive most kinds of vehicles in the USA. If the vehicle is powered by fossil fuels, you always need a license to drive.
For example, you can drive a golf cart without a driving license. That’s because a golf cart has a very low top speed, and hurting someone with a golf cart is rare, though it is possible.
The same rationale makes it possible for you to drive an electric scooter or bicycle without a driving license. The same does not apply to fuel-powered two-wheelers.
There are several confusions among people about which cars you can drive legally without a driving license. These misconceptions lead to some people believing they can drive any electric two-wheeler without a driving license. However, that does not hold true if your two-wheeler can reach a high speed and potentially harm other people.
Can you drive a moped without a license?
In the states of Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wyoming, you do not need a license to drive a moped.
In all the other states, you either need a Class M license or a general driving license.
The Class M license is specifically for motorcycles and scooters. Not all states require you to have in order to drive a moped.
In some states, you do need a license as long as the moped has a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour or less. California is an example of such a state. In New York, the speed limit is 30 miles per hour instead.
Age requirement is a factor in almost all stages. The minimum permissible age for driving mopeds is 14 in North Carolina. People aged 16 or more can drive a moped almost everywhere provided they have a license.
Street legal vehicles that don’t require a license in California
In California, you can drive an electric scooter, moped, or motorcycle without a license if its maximum speed is not more than 20 miles per hour. That disqualifies a lot of electric scooters and motorcycles.
Here are the details of California’s driving laws:
1. According to California law, mopeds, motorcycles and motorized bikes are all treated differently.
2. In California, scooters and motorized bikes don’t require a special motorbike DMV registration or license.
3. Using a moped requires both a current registration and an M1 or M2 motorbike license.
That makes it apparent that you do need a driving license to drive most vehicles in California. There are a few exceptions, but those are always light vehicles with very little motor power.
The logic behind is that heavy vehicles can cause more harm to pedestrians and other people on the road. As a result, you should have a valid driving license to drive any such vehicle.
What is the biggest motorcycle you can drive without a license?
In most cases, the motorcycles you can drive without a license are not very big. The specific rules depend on which state you are talking about.
The motorcycle must be under 50cc and have wheels with a maximum radius of 12 inches in Arkansas for you to be able to drive it without a license. In California, you can ride a motorized bicycle with working pedals and an electric motor under 1,000 watts as long as it can only go 20 mph on flat ground without losing power.
Whether you can or cannot drive a motorcycle without a license depends entirely on your state laws. Make sure you check with the local authorities before making a purchase or going out on the streets.
If you are caught riding a motorcycle without a license, you will required to pay a hefty fine. Moreover, you’d be barred from all license exams for at least 6 months.
Not all states have requirements on the diameter of the wheels or the size of the motorcycle. That can make it possible for manufacturers to come up with big motorcycles that do not need a license. At the same time, those vehicles would never be as powerful as a traditional motorcycle.
Street legal vehicles that don’t require a license in Texas
In Texas, a Class M motorcycle license is necessary to operate a moped with a top speed of 30 miles per hour over flat terrain. That means you cannot drive even a smaller and lighter vehicle without a license.
As long as you are in a private property, you can drive any vehicle without a license. But Texas road laws are strict when it comes to having valid driving licenses. If you are caught without one, you will have to go through a long and arduous legal process.
However, you can still drive electric bicycles without a license if it has a very low maximum speed. No motorized or electric vehicles are allowed on sidewalks and must stay on the roads.
Some obsolete vehicles, like a horse-drawn wagon, can be taken to the roads even if you do not have any license. The same applies to different kinds of animal-drawn carts and vehicles.
When it comes to golf carts, Texas state laws require you to have a specialized golf cart license plate, and you can only drive it in designated roads and areas.
FAQ relating to electric vehicles and licenses
How do you get around without a license?
Getting around without a license is indeed not very difficult. As long as you make the most of public transport, you can get anywhere without a driving license.
Another way to go around without driving license is to use a bicycle. It’s the most eco-friendly vehicle option out there. Alternativley, you can use electric vehicles that do not require a driving license.
Before you think about going anywhere without a license, make sure you check with the local authorities. Different states have different license requirements, and you may unwillingly break traffic laws if you are not aware of them.
Can you go to jail for driving without a license?
Yes, you can technically go to jail if you are caught driving without a driving license. However, it’s very rare and does not happen to most people.
In most cases, you’d be charged a heavy penalty. Fines for not carrying a driving license can go up to thousands of dollars.
If someone is caught without a license and is under 18 years of age, they’d be barred from applying for driving license tests for a given period of time, usually 6 months.
Overall, it’s never a good idea to drive without a license unless it’s legal to drive the vehicle you are driving without a driving license.
What happens if I drive without a license?
If you drive without a license, you will be charged by the police authorities. That is, unless the vehicle you are driving does not require a license.
It’s never a good idea to drive without a driving license. You can even end up in jail if caught without a license, but that’s extremely rare. But being booked for a hefty fine is not that rare.
As long as you are driving a vehicle that specifically does not require a driving license, you are good to go. In any other case, you must carry a driving license.