Fuel Efficient Transport
Virginians are becoming more aware of the environmental effects of travel. Scooters, mopeds, motorcycles and hybrid vehicles are as popular as ever. HOV lanes and alternative fuels are other options for environmentally-friendly Virginians.
State law defines a moped as a vehicle traveling on three wheels or less, that has a seat at least 24 inches high from the ground, and has a gasoline, electric or hybrid motor displacing less then 50 cubic centimeters. Moped drivers are required to abide by the same traffic laws and regulations as automobile drivers. State law allows localities to pass ordinances requiring helmets or other safety gear for moped riders.
To operate a moped on public streets, Virginia law requires the driver to be at least 16 years old. Moped drivers do not need a driver's license; however, they must carry some form of identification that includes name, address and date of birth. They may not operate a moped if they have been declared a habitual offender or their driver's license is suspended or revoked for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If the moped will be driven faster than 35 miles per hour, state law requires it be titled and registered as a motorcycle.
State law defines a scooter as having no seat and is designed to be ridden standing up. Scooters are powered by an electric motor having an input of no more than 1,000 watts; it may or may not have handlebars or a gasoline engine that displaces less than 36 cubic centimeters. Mopeds and electric personal assistive mobility devices are not considered scooters.
Scooters and mopeds are prohibited on interstate highways, but scooters can be driven at 25 miles per hour or less in crosswalks that are authorized for pedestrians, bicycles or electric power-assisted bicycles. Individuals younger than age 14 cannot drive a scooter unless under the supervision of a person age 18 or older.
Over the last several years, Virginia has seen a steady increase in the number of registered motorcycles.
In Virginia, motorcyclists and their passengers are required to wear an approved motorcycle helmet and eye protection. Drivers are also encouraged to wear the proper jacket, gloves and footwear.
To operate a motorcycle in Virginia, the rider must hold a Class M designation on their driver's license. To obtain a Class M designation, the driver may be required to pass the motorcycle knowledge exam and motorcycle road skills test. Presenting a certificate of completion from the Virginia Rider Training Program exempts the rider from these requirements.
A hybrid vehicle uses two or more distinct power sources to move the vehicle. The term most commonly refers to hybrid electric vehicles, which combine an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors. An annual license tax of $64 is assessed on each hybrid vehicle registered for highway use in Virginia. This tax is included with vehicle registration fees and must be paid at the time of original registration,and each year at renewal.
Certain vehicles exclusively powered by clean special fuel are eligible for clean special fuel license plates. These license plates allow the vehicle to travel in certain HOV lanes without the required number of passengers. Not all hybrids qualify for clean special fuel license plates. SmartCars are not hybrids and do not qualify. Check clean special fuel vehicles/plates for an updated list of eligible vehicles.
High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes
HOV Lanes are located in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. These lanes are marked with a restricted lane symbol, which is a diamond. Some HOV lanes are separated with a barrier, while others are simply the left lane. They are reserved for buses, vanpools, carpools, motorcycles, other high occupancy vehicles and certain alternative fuel vehicles. During HOV operating hours, any vehicle that has the designated number of people (HOV 2 or 3) can use the HOV lanes.
Some Virginians use fuel other than gasoline to power their vehicles. Some alternative fuels include compressed natural gas, electricity, ethane, hybrid gasoline/electric, hydrogen, hythane, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, methane, solar or a combination of two types of clean special fuels. Alternative fuel may allow some customers to qualify for clean special fuel license plates, which allow them to travel in certain HOV lanes without the required number of passengers. Check clean special fuel vehicles/plates for an updated list of eligible vehicles.