Lets break down the California Electric Skateboard Law AB - 604!

There seems to be some confusion in the community as to what the recently passed California law is on electric skateboards. So I will break it down in great detail and give you commentary on it so we are all on the same page.

First, you need to understand one thing: “electrically motorized boards” and “motorized skateboards” are 2 different things in law. California already has laws dating back to the late 70’s that ban motorized skateboards. Prior to this law, there was no definition of electrically motorized boards, so all electric skateboards were motorized skateboards. If you don’t pay attention to this difference, the law becomes confusing.

Just remember, “electrically motorized boards” do not equal “motorized skateboards”, they have 2 different definitions.

This bill would provide that an electrically motorized board is not a motorized skateboard for those purposes.

So to start off the bill:

This bill would define the term “electrically motorized board.”

Self explanatory. So lets keep going…

The bill would prohibit the operation of an electrically motorized board
upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug

So don’t don’t drugs and ride your electric skateboard

The bill would require the operator of an
electrically motorized board to wear a helmet while operating an
electrically motorized board upon a highway, bikeway, or any other
public bicycle path, sidewalk, or trail.

So you must wear a helmet while riding an electric skateboard.

The bill would require an operator to be at least 16 years
of age in order to operate an electrically motorized board

So you can’t ride legally if your not at least 16 years old.

The bill would also require electrically motorized
boards to be equipped with safety equipment, as specified, and restrict
the operation speed of electrically motorized boards

We will jump into what these safety equipment are, but it’s white headlights, read tail reflectors, and orange side reflectors, If operating at night.

Moreover, this last part, says this law limits the operation speed of electric skateboards. They do this by limiting the definition of electrically motorized skateboards to 20 mph, and leave anything higher defined as a motorized skateboard, which is still illegal. But I’ll show you more on this in a bit.

Existing law makes it a crime to operate a motorized skateboard on any sidewalk, roadway, or any other part of a highway or on any bikeway, bicycle path or trail, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail.

This bill would provide that an electrically motorized board is not a motorized skateboard for those purposes.

So were getting into the meaning of this bill. It’s to separate the definition of a “electrically motorized board” from a “motorized skateboard”

So let’s get to the definition of an “electrically motorized board” then…

An “electrically motorized board” is any wheeled device that has a
floorboard designed to be stood upon when riding that is not greater
than 60 inches deep and 18 inches wide, is designed to transport only
one person, and has an electric propulsion system averaging less than 1,000
watts, the maximum speed of which, when powered solely by a propulsion
system on a paved level surface, is no more than 20 miles per hour. The
device may be designed to also be powered by human propulsion.

So to meet the legal definition of an “electrically motorized board”, your board can’t run at more than an average of 1000 watts, or be capable of more than 20 mph.

If you don’t meet this definition, your board is still classified as a motorized skateboard, which this law re-affirms is illegal…

(a) A motorized skateboard shall not be propelled on any sidewalk, roadway, or any other part of a highway or on any bikeway, bicycle path or trail, equestrian trail, or hiking or
recreational trail.

(b) For purposes of this section, an electrically motorized board, as defined in Section 313.5, is not a motorized skateboard.

So there is is, in black and white. If your board is capable of more than 20 mph, your board doesn’t meet the definition of an “electrically motorized board”, which means you board is a “motorized skateboard”, which this law reaffirms is illegal to ride basically any wheres in public.

Lets add a few more tid bits from this law, just so everyone’s aware of the other details defined in the law.

Electrically motorized boards shall only operate upon a highway
designated with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less, unless the
electrically motorized board is operated entirely within a designated
Class II or Class IV bikeway.

In this law (and I believe laws in general), “freeways” and “expressways” are what we normally call “highways”. And “highways” are really just normal roads.

So here, it says you can only ride on roads with a 35 mph or less speed limit.

This bill would authorize the Department of
Transportation and local authorities to also prohibit or restrict the
use of electrically motorized boards upon freeways or expressways.

So don’t ride your boards on the highway basically.

Here’s the next crazy part that actually limits operating speed beyond the “electrically motorized board” definition.

(b) A person shall not operate an
electrically motorized board upon a highway, bikeway, or any other
public bicycle path, sidewalk, or trail, at a speed in excess of 15
miles per hour.

© Notwithstanding
subdivision (b), a person shall not operate an electrically motorized
board at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard
for weather, visibility, pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and the
surface and width of the highway, bikeway, public bicycle path, sidewalk, or trail, and
in no event at a speed that endangers the safety of any person or
property.

So basically, you can’t ride at a speed higher than 15 mph any wheres in public. It’s also vague, in saying that even if your going say 14 mph, a cop can still pull you over for speeding if he deems it was too fast to be safe given the particular situation.

Remember I said about “Required Safety Equipment” above? Well, here is the required safety equipment…

(a) Every electrically motorized board operated upon a highway during darkness shall be equipped with all of the following:

(1) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a lamp emitting a white light that,
while the electrically motorized board is in motion, illuminates the
highway in front of the operator and is visible from a distance of 300
feet in front of the electrically motorized board.

(2) Except as provided in subdivision ©, a red reflector on the rear that is
visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front
of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.

(3) Except as provided in subdivision (d), a white or yellow reflector on each
side that is visible from a distance of 200 feet from the sides of the
electrically motorized board.

(b) A lamp or lamp combination, emitting a white light, attached to the
operator and visible from a distance of 300 feet in front of the
electrically motorized board, may be used in lieu of the lamp required
by paragraph (1) of subdivision (a).

© A red reflector, or reflectorizing material meeting the requirements of
Section 25500, attached to the operator and visible from a distance of
500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of
headlamps on a motor vehicle, may be used in lieu of the reflector
required by paragraph (2) of subdivision (a).

(d) A white or yellow reflector, or reflectorizing material meeting the
requirements of Section 25500, attached to the operator and visible from a
distance of 200 feet from the sides of the electrically motorized board,
may be used in lieu of the reflector required by paragraph (3) of
subdivision (a).

So lets break this down…

If you ride in the dark, you need to either use:

  • A white headlight that is visible from 300 ft or more, a red reflector on the back which is visible from 500 ft or more, and a yellow or white reflector on each side (left and right) of your board that is visible from 300 ft or more

  • The same requirements, but attached to you, the operator, instead of the board.

So here it is. I’ve tried to find the 1976 law which defines what a motorized skateboard is, but it doesn’t seem to be searchable on the internet. If anyone can find it, feel free to post it so I can add that information here.

If you want to read the text in it’s entirety, here it is: AB-604 Law

The reason I’m posting this is there seems to be some confusion out there as to what this law means for us builders and riders. Most of this law is legal garbage that we don’t care about, so you have to either spends hours (like I have) reading the entire law to find the useful pieces, or now, you can read this post.

While everyone in the media is celebrating this law, they are too ignorant to realize many of the biggest commercial boards are still illegal (including boosted and evolve). This law was crafted by Z-Board, which surprise surprise, has a top speed of 18 mph. So their boards are now legal, while most of their competitors are still illegal. Nice job rigging the industry in your favor guys…

So to sum it up: Your electric skateboard is illegal if you can go faster than 20 mph on it (this includes boosted and the evovle CGT). If you can’t go faster than 20 mph, your board is legal as long as you follow these regulations:

  • You can’t ride high or dunk (duh)
  • You must wear a helmet
  • You must be 16 years or older
  • You can only ride on roads of 35 mph or less
  • You can’t ride on highways
  • You can’t ride on public property at speeds higher than 15 mph
  • For nighttime riding, you must use a white headlight, orange side reflectors (on both sides), and a red reflector on the back.
5 Likes

The original law ( Section 21968 of the Vehicle Code) is quoted in the body of AB-604 (AB-604 is the name of the bill, it’s not the name of the law btw) under SEC 6 of the Bill. The link to the original law that was amended is here: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=21968

The original definition is purposely broad and intended to ban any motorized skateboards from the road. The bill above is meant to carve out an exception to make certain electrical motorized skateboards road legal in CA. So, before 1/1/2016 all motorized skateboards were illegal in CA.

2 Likes

You forgot one portion of the law which is you may not travel > 15mph on bikeways, pathways, and highways.

Yes, but I’m trying to find the actual text that defines what a “motorized skateboard” is, they one that was written back in 1976. I hear it’s vague enough that it included all electrical skateboards prior to this law, but I wanted to make sure 100% that it does. I have just seen people saying this in half dozen of forums, no one ever links or quites the actual 1976 law which banned “motorized skateboards”.

ah, thank you. There’s so much junk, that it’s easy to miss an important piece or two. I will add this.

And I thought german laws are complicated as fuck…

1 Like

It does include electrical skateboards. Motorized skateboard is a broader term than electrical motorized skateboards, and the amendment, as a carve out, further shows that.

This is a question of statutory interpretation. If you define something without restrictors (e.g. specific definitions) courts will interpret the law to be broader. When you define something specifically courts will interpret that to exclude things that are not defined. So, the exception to Sec 21968, Sec 313.5, is purposely narrow and anything not falling within 313.5 will fall into the broader category.

You can read up more about it under the textual canons here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statutory_interpretation

I got pulled over by a Riverside County police recently when I was going about 23 mph…

Turns out they hadn’t even heard of the law and when I showed a copy of AB604 the officer just chuckled and said have a nice day and be safe…

3 Likes

Isn’t it considered a motor assist vechicle? I know someone who was able to challenge a ticket in court when he brought his esk8 to the courthouse and prove that it still requires kick push to move the board so it is define as “motor assist” skateboard, an important distinction in my mind.

2 Likes

Thank you so much! This was super informative. Living in Southern California, Orange County this is great info. Of course, the law won’t stop most of us from riding any of our faster boards…but it’s good to know what we can “legally” get away with as this community rapidly grows in the years to come.

I think it really comes down to this, if you do get stopped for riding your eboard: don’t be an entitled jerk about it!! At 33 years old, I’ve been stopped by police for countless things I probably shouldn’t have been doing. 9 out of 10 times, being respectful and calm gets you on your way in no time… Probably without even a warning :wink:

Your welcome. Honestly, your likely fine going over the limit. I ride in the upper 20’s all day every day in SF and never have I had a cop even look at me twice.

1 Like

That would claim like 80% of the fun.

2 Likes

I am unable to find regulation pertaining to “electric motorized boards” for my local trails here in California, it is safe to assume I fall under the e-bike regulations and definition laid out in 604? OR does the city and county have a way to stretch any law governing “skateboards” to include “electric motorized boards” ??

The local regulations regarding “skateboards” is from 1997, and 604 from 2015…I wonder if they just failed to get the memo or are slow to react to changing state regulation. Anyone have any experience with your local regs and gaining access using 604?

9.36.066.5 Prohibition of Skates in Park Facilities.
Except as provided in Section 9.36.066 of this Chapter 9.36 and in such areas specifically designated for the use of such devices, no person shall ride upon a skateboard, roller skates, in-line skates, roller skis, or similar device within the boundaries of any park facility where the use of such devices has been prohibited by the posting of a sign or signs prohibiting such activity in locations which give users of the park facilities adequate notice and which clearly state the areas or locations of prohibition. (SCC 1084 § 2, 1997.)

Motorized vehicles are also prohibited under 9.36.065 A.

lol, welcome to the world of laws. You brought up a good question…

Are electric skateboards subject to laws pertaining to skateboards?

Now we need to look at what defines a skateboard. My gut feeling says yes, but again, I am no lawyer. In the city and county of San Francisco for example, it is illegal to ride a skateboard anywheres expect the skatepark. This includes sidewalks, bikeways, and even the street. I ride read on reddit about a cop who gave a guy a ticket in the Fishermans Warf for riding his electric skateboard, and cited this law which bans skateboards all together.

However, cops here are usually sensible, and only give you shit if your riding in such a way that your seriously endangering other people. Other parts of Cali, well… Your on your own. I got a ticket once for skateboarding in a skatepark (all be it at 9 pm after the park closed, but the gates were wide open) just an hour south of San Francisco. Cops were total dicks, treated us like harden criminals, even pulled their guns on us, made us prone out, and handcuffed us. They ended up giving us all tickets and took our lights and generator and boards for evidence. That just wouldn’t happen here in SF. One of the reasons I can’t imagine leaving SF… Made me remember how fucked up most cops are outside of SF.

Damn, you guys have a good law for e-sk8 in California.
I’m in BC, Canada and we still fall under the “motorized skateboards” law with an e-sk8… There’s nothing specific yet for e-sk8. Although cops are ok as long as you’re not going too fast… But still, they could just confiscate the board if they want to.

Where I live there’s like no police so I can ride and I’m under the age
Lol
It’s awesome some guy was hitting 35mph on his board not sure what it was but not diy and drove right past a cop I think he was 15 and the cop did nothing

:point_up: …which in turn makes the dreaded draconian law…a lawless piece of text not even the cops care or know anything about its existence. Is not a law, when the law was written by a company with its own commercial interest. Their interest, to wipe out their competitors …no to help and protect the community. In others words: democracy down the drain and monopoly practices.

Its still better that we have something down then nothing. Unless a cop radars you, they would have no way of knowing your top speed.

It is frustrating though that the only eboard company involved set the law up for their board. 20 mph top speed is insane. And I can go onto 35 mph roads, but legally, I can only go 20 mph on them. Thats dangerous. It’s very well know that ANY deviation in speed from the flow of traffic is dangerous, higher or lower. How can going half of the speed of cars be safer than going the same speed as cars.

looks like i’ll be looking into adding marker lights. Plenty of RC car kits that do this simoply and easily, just a matter of tastefully integrating them.

brake lights, as in functioning brake lights that illumunate brighter when NOT on the throttle, is somethign that needs work in our community. Could be something like a CAN connected device that sees where the throttle is (not where the PPM is saying to put it, such as with the RC car brake light kits which don’t work reliably with a tuned vesc) and act accordingly.

2 Likes

Im 14 and would really want to buy myself a ‘Blitzart’ electric skateboard. It has a max speed of 17mph and my dad wont let me purely of the age restriction. I am very upset and i feel like this is a law that isnt really a “crime” to break. By that i mean that is is similar to jaywalking as a kind of law that is only there to arrest the irresponsible and have a reason to do so. I am completely safe and would be of absolutely no danger to anybody riding it. I even said I would pay for the board but he wont budge on his stance. any advice?