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  • Chuck Watwood

What Constitutes a Motorcycle, Scooters, Mopeds, and Other Vehicles


Photo: Harley Model 8 by Chefranden

Motorcycles are defined more by what they are not, rather than what they are. The definition is found in O.C.G.A.

§40-1-1(29):


“Motorcycle" means every motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding a tractor, all-terrain vehicle, and moped.


Motorcycles with sidecars and motorcycle trikes still fall under the broad heading of “Motorcycle.”


Scooters over 5 horsepower and having less than 4 wheels are in the same class of vehicles as motorcycles according to O.C.G.A. §40-1-1.


Mopeds are classified separately than motorcycles under §40-1-1 which reads:

(28) “Moped” means a motor-driven cycle equipped with two or three wheels, with or without foot pedals to permit muscular propulsion, and an independent power source providing a maximum of two brake horsepower. If a combustion engine is used, the maximum piston or rotor displacement shall be 3.05 cubic inches (50 cubic centimeters) regardless of the number of chambers in such power source. The power source shall be capable of propelling the vehicle, unassisted, at a speed not to exceed 30 miles per hour (48.28 kilometers per hour) on level road surface and shall be equipped with a power drive system that functions directly or automatically only, not requiring clutching or shifting by the operator after the drive system is engaged.


Another category of vehicles exists which may cover some minibikes, but includes all mopeds and all bicycles with a motor attached. This category is called “Motor Driven Cycles” under §40-1-1 which reads:


(30) “Motor driven cycle” means every motorcycle, including every motor scooter, with a motor which produces not to exceed five brake horsepower, every bicycle with a motor attached, and every moped.


Golf carts, go carts, ATVs (both four and three wheeled), are separately defined from motorcycles and mopeds but are outside the scope of this book.


In 2017, the definition of a Class C motor vehicle in O.C.G.A. § 40-5-23(c) was changed to include three-wheel motor vehicles equipped with a steering wheel. They also changed O.C.G.A. § 40-6-311(b) to distinguish motorcycles as motor vehicles controlled by handlebars requiring the operator to straddle the seat. Helmets are required when operating or riding in these vehicles. The Polaris Slingshot is a commonly known vehicle which fits the statutory definition, thus a Class C driver’s license is sufficient to operate these vehicles and a motorcycle license is not required. If you choose to operate one of these vehicles across state lines and do not have a motorcycle endorsement on your license, be sure to research other state laws on the matter as some states do still require a motorcycle endorsement to operate these vehicles.

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