Are electric scooters legal in the UK?

14th Dec 2020

Are electric scooters legal in the UK?

When it comes to UK road laws, they don’t make it easy. Any number of variables can affect driving laws, including the type of vehicle, on-road or off-road use, and of course, the driver.

Electric scooters are the latest vehicles to have undergone a change in UK law.

On July 4 2020, the UK government declared it legal to ride electric scooters on roads and cycle lanes, as long as they are part of a hire scheme. Prior to this, riders could purchase and ride scooters, but only for use on private land.

To understand how this affects you and your leasing choices, firstly it’s key to classify the specs of an electric scooter.

What is an electric scooter?

Electric scooters are classed as personal light electric vehicles (PLEVs). Like cars and motorbikes, they must be taxed (though road tax is free), insured, and ridden by a driver with a licence. They must also have signalling ability, an MOT, red rear lights and number plates.

Electric scooters have a minimum speed of 15.5MPH – anything below this which is not powered by the motor is classed as an ‘electric bike’. These are legal for riders as young as 14 and do not require helmets.

Generally, electric scooters can reach speeds of up to 30MPH. The same applies for electric mopeds; however, these have always been road legal and do not have to be used on a hire scheme.

Who can ride an electric scooter?

While you can’t secure a car lease deal until you’re 18, you can legally ride an electric scooter off-road from age 14 and up, assuming it cannot exceed 15.5MPH. In wattage terms, this is about 250W.

To ride it on the road, first of all it must pass the PLEV test – that is, it must have the abovementioned rear red lights and signalling abilities etc. Riders must have a provisional or a full car, motorcycle or moped licence, and they must be a minimum of 16 years old. Helmets are not essential, but recommended.

What about electric mopeds?

Like scooters, these can reach speeds of up to 30MPH. However, riders should be mindful of the difference in licensing laws. You can ride an electric moped legally if:

• You have a full car driving licence and the engine wattage is no more than 4kW (equal to 50CC)

• You have completed a driving test and passed your compulsory basic training (CBT) within two years

• You have passed your driving test and then completed a CBT.

The criteria change depending on the weight of the vehicle, so use this government guide if you’re not sure.

Are electric scooters worth it?

The government is still trialling road-worthy scooters in certain areas of the UK. Bear in mind that any scooters you purchase can only be ridden on private land.

However, they’re very cheap to run, so if you are looking for a cheap commute, it may be worth hiring a scooter or leasing a moped. With the growing popularity of electric vehicles, we predict even more lenient changes to the rules very soon.

Talk to the Car Lease Agent team about your leasing options here.