A motor scooter is defined in Maryland Vehicle Law, Section 11-134.5 as a non-pedal vehicle that:
- Has a seat for the operator.
- Has two wheels, of which one is 10 inches or more in diameter.
- Has a step-through chassis.
- Has a motor with a rating of 2.7 brake horsepower or less or if the motor is an internal combustion engine, with a capacity of 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement or less.
- Equipped with an automatic transmission
By comparison a "motorcycle" is defined as a motor vehicle that:
- Has motive power;
- Has a seat or saddle for the use of the rider;
- Is designed to travel
- On not more than 3 wheels in contact with the ground; and
- At speeds exceeding 35 miles per hour; and
- Is of a type required to comply with all motor vehicle safety standards applicable to motorcycles under Federal law.
A Class M motorcycle license is not required for mopeds or scooters in Maryland according to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). However, each individual operating a moped or a motor scooter on any roadway in Maryland must have a driver license of some class issued in this state or from his or her state of residency. A moped operator's permit issued to the individual is also valid. The MVA will not issue a moped operator's permit to any individual whose driver's license is suspended or revoked.
Vehicles that fall into the category of Motor Scooters cannot be titled or registered in Maryland. However, vehicles built for road use that have greater horsepower and cc's may be titled and registered as a motorcycle.
A person may not operate a motorcycle that has a rating of 1.5 brake horsepower or less, or a capacity of less than 70 cubic centimeters piston displacement, on a roadway where the posted maximum speed is more than 50 miles per hour, or on an expressway or other controlled access highway.
Prior to the sale of the vehicle, any dealer or agent or employee of a dealer, salesman, or other person who sells the motorcycle must inform the buyer of the operation restrictions the MVA notes.
You can check with the MD MVA for more information on the qualifications needed to operate a scooter or moped and the laws surrounding these types of vehicles. For instance their site states that a motor scooter may not be operated at a speed in excess of 30 miles per hour.
Also the MVA says that all operators of motor scooters should check their local jurisdictions for any laws that may affect the operation of a motor scooter. For example, motor scooters are specifically prohibited in Baltimore City under Article 19, Subtitle 40, which allows the police to seize a motor scooter and it is not recoverable.
If you have a Maryland driver's license it appears you can drive a vehicle defined as a scooter or moped but not a more powerful vehicle that falls under the definition of a motorcycle. Operating a motorcycle without a valid Class M license may result in a $315 fine and 5 points added to your driving record. You are also subject to arrest, and your motorcycle could be impounded so it is important to know under what classification your two wheeled vehicle falls under in MD before taking to the roadway with only a driver's license and not a motorcycle license.