The popularity of “hoverboards” — the common term referring to those self-balancing electric scooters — has
spiked recently. But cruising on New York streets with one could get you in trouble with police — and a $US500 fine.
An NYPD spokesperson told Tech Insider in an email that “Hoverboards are prohibited by New York state Law since they are considered motor vehicles that cannot be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles,” but they didn’t cite a specific law or code, which has led to some confusion.
A Tweet sent out earlier this week by NYPD’s 26th Precinct gave a warning to citizens: “Be advised that the electric hoverboard is illegal as per NYC Admin. Code 19-176.2.”
The 26th Precinct has since deleted the tweet, but a spokesperson assured Tech Insider that the mode of transportation is still considered illegal by New York police.
But the text of the law that the since-deleted tweet cited isn’t quite as clear.
The code, which covers motorised scooters, says the term “shall mean any wheeled device that has handlebars that is designed to be stood or sat upon by the operator” that is propelled by an electric motor or gasoline. Hoverboards don’t have handlebars.
The law also says “electric powered devices not capable of exceeding fifteen miles per hour” will be excluded from the definition of motorised scooters. For now, many of these devices can reach a top speed of 12 mph.
The code also excludes “electric personal assistive mobility devices defined as self-balancing, two non-tandem wheeled devices designed to transport one person by means of an electric propulsion system.” Again, hoverboards seem to fit that definition.
There could be another law or code that trumps the code that was originally tweeted out by the NYPD. Regardless, it’s probably a good idea to ride your hoverboard inside instead of on the streets to avoid having it impounded or getting stuck with a $US500 fine.
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