Mini Chopper Street Legal Info - Texas

Article By Shorty

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer, and I am not giving legal advice, this is just a report of my personal experience and information I found from calling the Texas Department Of Public Safety, Texas Highway Patrol, my local Sheriff, and my community Constable. You also have to understand that many police do not know about these laws, and my friends have been pulled over by police that had intentions of giving them tickets. Upon showing them copies of the law, they were able to avoid tickets, so you might want to print some stuff out and carry it with you.

So far I have been able to find 2 ways to make these mini-choppers street legal:

The 78th Legislature addressed the issue of new transportation technology. The law now recognizes motor assisted scooters and Neighborhood Electric Vehicles for limited street usage. The law can be found in the Texas Transportation Code (TRC) as Subchapter D, Sections 551.301 and 551.302. Subchapter D became effective on September 1, 2003.

In general, any traffic law which applies to bicycles also applies to motor assisted scooters. That means the operator must obey the usual traffic laws that bicycle operators must obey such as speed limit, signal turns, etc. (TRC 551.101(a)). However, TRC 551.302(d) states that some laws that apply to a motor vehicle do not apply to these scooters. This means that:
- the scooter operator doesn't need a driver license,
- the scooter operator doesn't need liability insurance,
- the scooter doesn't have to be registered or have a license plate,
- the scooter doesn't have to carry a low speed vehicle emblem; and,
- the scooter doesn't have to be inspected.

551.301. Definitions.
In this subchapter:
(1) "Neighborhood electric vehicle" means a vehicle subject to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 500 (49 C.F.R. Section571.500).
(2) "Motor assisted scooter" means a self-propelled device with:
(A) at least two wheels in contact with the ground during operation;
(B) a braking system capable of stopping the device under typical operating conditions;
(C) a gas or electric motor not exceeding 40 cubic centimeters;

551.302. Operation on Roadway.
(a) A neighborhood electric vehicle or motor assisted scooter may be operated only on a street or highway for which the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less. The vehicle may cross a road or street at an intersection where the road or street has a posted speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour.
(b) A person may operate a motor assisted scooter on a path set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles or on a sidewalk. Except as otherwise provided by this section, a provision of this title applicable to the operation of a bicycle applies to the operation of a motor assisted scooter.

More info can be found at the Texas Departent Of Public Safety Electric Vehicle and Motor Assisted Scooters, which is a sub page of the Motorcycle Safety Unit. Here is an addition page about Texas Motorcycle info

Texas has a very simple definition of what a moped is, and if you build yours with the proper characteristics, and go thru the proper procedures, you can register it as a moped and receive a moped license plate.

Definition of a moped - A motor driven cycle whose speed attainable in one mile is not more than 30 miles per hour and that is equipped with a motor that produces not more than two-brake horsepower. If an internal combustion engine is used, the piston displacement may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters and the power drive system may not require the operator to shift gears.
[More Info].

TRC 541.201. VEHICLES.
In this subtitle:
(8) "Moped" means a motor-driven cycle that cannot attain a speed in one mile of more than 30 miles per hour and the engine of which:
(A) cannot produce more than two-brake horsepower; and
(B) if an internal combustion engine, has a piston displacement of 50 cubic centimeters or less and connects to a power drive system that does not require the operator to shift gears.

(b) A moped is subject to inspection in the same manner as a motorcycle, except that the only items of equipment required to be inspected are the brakes, headlamps, rear lamps, and reflectors, which must comply with the standards prescribed by Sections 547.408 and 547.801.
head lamp 24"-54" off ground, rear lamp 20-72" off ground (not stop light, just lamp) rear reflector 15-60" off ground
[More Info].

Forms required and procedure to get a title and registration:
1 - Keep bills of sale for three component parts (motor, frame, body)
2 - Take pencil tracing of motor and body numbers (if applicable)
3 - Get empty weight ticket from public scale
4 - Form VTR-61 - App to register and title assembled vehicle, you fill it out and have the form notarized.
5 - Form 130-U - App for texas title, you fill out, don't need notarized
6 - Picture of completed vehicle
7 - Form VTR-470 Standard of safety statement, visit a local inspection station and have them inspect your chopper for the moped characteristics. If the inspection station can do your car or motorcycles, they are qualified to inspect mopeds.
8 - Form VTR-68A App for assigned number, contact Vehicle Theft Division 936-539-2774
9 - Take all of these forms to Texas Department Of Motor Vehicles, and they will give you a title, registration & license plate.