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November 29, 2005
Contact: Doug Dunbar

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap Encourages
Caution and Knowledge of Law When Purchasing
'Pocket Bikes' and Motorized Scooters this Season

AUGUSTA, MAINE – With the holiday shopping season underway, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is encouraging Maine residents to familiarize themselves with state law and be mindful of safety considerations when purchasing “pocket bikes” or other small motorized vehicles.

Today’s message of caution is part of a public awareness campaign about pocket bikes and motorized scooters that the Department of the Secretary of State launched more than a year ago.  A consumer education effort began in August of 2004 to highlight the safe and lawful operation of motorized scooters and mopeds, as well as motorized bicycles and similar vehicles.

“As the purchase of small motorized vehicles is considered this holiday season, consumers should remember that current law requires a license to operate virtually all of them on any public way or in a public parking area.  Additionally, owners of mopeds and many motorized scooters need to know that these vehicles must be registered,” Secretary Dunlap commented.

The Department of the Secretary of State worked with members of the Maine Legislature to introduce a bill that seeks to clarify which vehicles are permitted on Maine roads, and which are intended for off-road use only.  The increasingly popular “pocket bikes”, which resemble miniature racing motorcycles, for example, are not for use on public roads in Maine.  The bill will be considered during the upcoming Legislature session.

“Our efforts are designed to ensure that consumers have adequate information and that public safety is enhanced.  During this holiday season, we want to help Maine residents make well-informed decisions based on knowledge of state law and common sense.  Reading and strictly following all safety warnings and guidelines associated with these vehicles is a good starting point,” Secretary Dunlap added.

According to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), certain models of pocket bikes lack basic safety features such as rearview mirrors, lights and turn signals.  AAMVA notes that the consumer safety group WATCH (World Against Toys Causing ranked Pocket Rocket Miniature Motorcycles as one of the worst toys in 2004. 

Additionally, Consumer Reports issued a warning to readers in December of last year noting that pocket bikes can be dangerous. The Consumer Product Safety Council estimates 2,345 people were seen in hospital emergency rooms for injuries relating to motorized mini-bikes in 2003.

Most of these scooters can attain speeds between 20 and 45 miles per hour with a gas powered engine that has up to 48 cubic centimeters. They are between 18 and 32 inches high, about 36 inches in length and can carry up to 250 pounds. Consequently, they are often difficult or impossible to see when behind or next to a car or truck. These scooters are advertised in a broad range of prices—from under $100 to nearly $1000—and can be purchased at a number of department and auto supply stores.

Secretary Dunlap outlined several safety tips and reminders and encouraged anyone with questions or comments to call the Bureau of Motor Vehicles at (207) 624-9000 extension 52145 or send them by e-mail to

  • Pocket bikes should never be driven in traffic;
  • Because many of these vehicle types are very low to the ground, it is extremely difficult for motorists to see them;
  • Insurance policies may not cover accidents involving pocket bikes or similar vehicles that are often categorized as toys;
  • Adult supervision is strongly advised when children are operating pocket bikes;
  • Helmets should always be worn--AAMVA cites a study by the National Safe Kids Campaign, which indicates that less than half of children observed on wheeled vehicles wear a helmet.