What You Need to Know About “Limited Use” Vehicles

what is a limited use vehicle in massachusetts

Before buying or riding a moped, motorized scooter or motorcycle in Massachusetts, it pays to know the rules. For one, “limited use” two- to three-wheeled motorized vehicles need a license plate, title, insurance and inspection to be driven legally on the roadways.

“When you’re shopping for a new or used two or three-wheeled vehicle figure out first how, and where, you plan to drive it,” says Daniel Bates, a certified agent at Bates Insurance Agency. “If you’re expecting to take it on main roads, you have to make sure the vehicle’s specifications meet the requirements for registration and operation on Massachusetts’ roadways.”

It’s also important to make sure the vehicle you buy will be the right one for the speeds you’ll be traveling and the places you’ll want to park. Some municipalities allow mopeds or motorized bicycles to use bike lanes and to park on the pavement.

What is a “limited use vehicle”?

In Massachusetts, a “limited use vehicle” is any motor vehicle that meets all of the following requirements:

  • Has two or more wheels
  • Has a Certificate of Origin
  • Has a 17 character vehicle identification number
  • Has been certified by the manufacturer to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for that class of vehicle AND
  • Can reach a speed on a paved level surface that can exceed 30 miles per hour but isn’t capable of exceeding 40 miles per hour.

Keep in mind that the vehicle’s maximum speed usually won’t be listed on the Certificate of Origin. It’s the responsibility of the customer, dealer and insurance agent to assure the vehicle is properly registered.

And, if the Certificate of Origin indicates the vehicle is more than 50cc, it can’t be registered as a moped. In fact, if a two- or three-wheeled vehicle has a maximum speed greater than 30 miles per hour and hasn’t been certified by its manufacturer as a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it can’t be registered as a moped or limited use vehicle and it can’t be legally operated on Massachusetts’ roads.

The Laws

Registering a limited use vehicle requires completing and signing an application for registration and title with the required necessary supporting documents.

To drive a limited use vehicle, you’re required to wear an approved safety helmet and be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit. That is, unless the two- or three-wheeled cycle goes faster than 40 miles per hour and is federally certified as a motorcycle. Then you need a motorcycle license or permit to drive it.

Double-check the facts

“There are many different kinds of limited use vehicles,” Bates says. “The best way to determine if a vehicle is a limited use vehicle, motorcycle or moped is to consult the live list provided by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.”

The list, which is always changing, can be found at: https://www.massrmv.com/Portals/30/docs/Limited_use.pdf

Bates also advises that you talk with your insurance agent to make sure you have the right insurance coverage for the type of vehicle you’ll be driving.

Limited Use