A Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) is a Federally-approved street-legal vehicle classification which came into existence in 1998 under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 500 (FMVSS 500). (The vehicle classification is referred to as "low-speed vehicle" within Federal regulations.) NEVs are defined as a four-wheeled motor vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 3,000 pounds and a top speed of between 20 to 25 mph. Those states that authorize NEVs generally restrict their operation to streets with a maximum speed limit of 35 miles per hour (56 km/h) or 45 miles per hour (72 km/h). Because of the federal law, car dealers cannot legally sell the vehicles to go faster than 25 miles per hour (40 km/h), but the buyer can easily and inexpensively modify the car to go 35 miles per hour (56 km/h). These speed restrictions, combined with a typical driving range of 30 miles (48 km) per charge and a typical three-year battery durability, are required because of a lack of federally mandated safety equipment and features which NEVs can not accommodate because of their design. To satisfy requirements for operation on streets, NEVs are equipped with three-point seat belts, windshields and windshield wipers, running lights, headlights, brake lights, reflectors, rear view mirrors, and turn signals. They must be licensed, and the driver must be licensed. Because airbags are not required the NEV cannot travel on highways or freeways. In many cases, doors may be optional, crash protection from other vehicles is partially met compared to other non motorized transport such as bicycles because of the use of seat belts.
As of December 1, 1996, all vehicles that can not keep up a speed of more than 40 km/h, for example, horse-drawn carriages and road construction equipment, must display the SMV sign. If a slow moving vehicle is pulling another behind it then the SMV sign must hang on the rearmost vehicle of any combination of vehicles. It must be centered between 2 meters and 0.5 meters above the roadway.
Other LSV and NEV Regulations by State
Low speed vehicles are treated in the same manner as other motor vehicles. Alabama has for decades required that vehicles, including electric golf carts, operating on public streets and highways be titled, registered and insured.
The State of Alaska has passed LSV legislation and we are in the process of locating detailed information about the laws enacted.
Arizona will register low speed electric vehicles if certain National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines, as defined in Arizona Revised Statute 28-101.32 are met. The vehicles will be subject to registration on an annual or biennial cycle and the usual vehicle license tax and fees.
Any vehicle that meets federal highway safety standards for operation on public streets and highways may be registered. If a licensed vehicle is operated on a public thoroughfare, and is not capable of operating at speeds consistent with the prevailing traffic flow, the operator would be in jeopardy of receiving a citation.
California DMV registers LSVs for on-road use if the vehicle is going to be operated on public streets. LSVs must meet applicable federal safety standards and be certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). LSVs are registered as passenger vehicles and issued automobile plates. Owners of registered LSVs must comply with financial responsibility laws and a driver license is needed to operate the vehicle. LSVs are restricted from roadways where the speed limit is greater than 35 mph. Manufacturers are required to affix a decal to the vehicle indicating that the maximum speed is 25 mph and that it may be a hazard on the roadways if it impedes traffic. The dealers are also required to have the new owner sign a statement acknowledging they understand the information on the decal. The dealer retains the original statement and provides the new owner with a copy.
Colorado does register LSV’S. Colorado Revised Statute 42-1-102(58) states "motor vehicle includes a neighborhood electric vehicle." NEVs cannot operate over the state highway system, and are permitted but not required to display the slow moving vehicle emblem. Each local law enforcement agency has the authority to regulate the operation of neighborhood electric vehicles on streets under their jurisdiction. The vehicles must have a 17 digit VIN. Colorado does register NEVs and they have a special license plate that states that the vehicle is a "Neighborhood Electric Vehicle."
Connecticut does not license or register LSVs. It is possible to register a golf cart, but not primarily for road use. We intend to submit legislation at some point in the future concerning low speed vehicles.
The Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles submitted legislation to the Delaware General Assembly for consideration. Hopefully, this legislation will pass this legislative session. Delaware currently has no laws restricting LSVs as long as the vehicles meet all federal motor vehicle standards for passenger vehicles.
District of Columbia
The District of Columbia has passed LSV legislation and we are in the process of locating detailed information about the laws enacted.
FLORIDA Florida allows LSVs to be operated on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less. LSVs are subject to the same license tax, registration, insurance and drivers license requirements as other vehicles. Counties, municipalities and the state Department of Transportation may prohibit LSVs on roads under their respective jurisdictions if such prohibition is necessary in the interest of public safety. Florida statute also imposes certain restrictions on the imposition of insurance surcharges on EVs.
Governor Roy Barnes (D) signed HB1389 into law on April 25, 2002. The measure allows LSVs to be operated on roadways with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less and requires the operator of LSVs on highways to display an amber strobe light so as to warn approaching travelers to decrease their speed because of the danger of colliding with such vehicle. Such amber strobe light shall be mounted in a manner so as to be visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of 500 feet from the front and rear of such vehicle.
Hawaii registers LSV’s for use on public roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less. The vehicles have a special license plate indicating they are electric vehicles. Hawaii also offers small financial incentives. Vehicles with the special license plate are exempt from payment of parking fees, including those collected through parking meters, charged by any government authority, other than a branch of the federal government, when being operated in this State. For a period of five years, beginning July 1, 1997, the motor vehicle registration fee and other fees, if any, assessed upon or associated with the registration of an electric vehicle in this State, including any fees associated with the issuance of a license plate, are waived.
Idaho's Division of Motor Vehicles has adopted a position that low speed and slow speed vehicles will not be titled or registered. This policy was developed based on current statutes and with public safety in mind. The DMV has received very few inquiries for these types of vehicles and it is their position that until such time that legislation is passed that clearly defines both the operational and geographical limitations for LSVs, the DMV cannot title or register them.
Illinois has passed LSV legislation.
On January 9, S.B. 240 was introduced in the Indiana legislature. The bill defines a low speed vehicle, and allows low speed vehicles that are designed to have a maximum speed of not more than 35 mph to be operated on highways as passenger motor vehicles. In an urban district, an LSV may not be driven at a speed greater than 25 mph, other than when crossing the highway at a right angle. The bill would permit the Department of Transportation and local authorities to regulate or prohibit the operation of LSVs on highways. The bill would become effective July 1, 2003. SB 240 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Interstate Cooperation.
In last year's legislative session, Iowa adopted legislation to allow low speed vehicles that meet the requirements of 49 C.F.R. 571.500 to be operated on Iowa highways with a posted speed limit of not more than 25 MPH.
LSVs are registered as any other passenger vehicle, however there are restrictions on their operation. Kansas Statute 8-15, 101 makes it illegal for an LSV to be operated on any street or highway with a posted speed limit greater than 40 mph. The statute does not prevent LSVs from crossing streets or highways with a speed limit of over 40 mph.
Kentucky does not have specific statutory language regarding low speed electric vehicles. The Department of Vehicle Regulation does allow low speed electric vehicles to be registered if the manufacturer demonstrates that the vehicle complies with federal regulation 49 CFR 571.500. This must include a conforming VIN and a manufacturer's statement of origin. Vehicles not manufactured for highway use may not be registered.
Louisiana has passed LSV legislation and we are in the process of locating detailed information about the laws enacted. LSVs are restricted to roads with speed limits up to 35 mph, however, local jurisdictions may limit their usage.
MAINE Representative Marley introduced Bill LD393 on January 30, 2003. The Bill authorized the use of LSVs in certian municipalities and islands starting on June 1, 2003. All other jurisdictions started to allow LSV usage on September 1, 2003.
Maryland's vehicle law now permits the registration and/or operation of LSV's on Maryland's roadways posted 30 mph and below.
Senator Glodis introduced SB 1313 on January 1. The bill defines an LSV, and limits the use of LSVs to roadways with posted speed limits of 30 mph or less, except when crossing an intersection with a posted speed limit of 45 mph. Allows the prohibition of LSV operation in jurisdictions if deemed an unreasonable risk. Requires an LSV driver to be 16 years of age and to possess a valid driver’s license. Exempts low speed electric vehicles from annual emissions inspections. Requires dealers of LSVs in Massachusetts to provide a notice to purchasers/renters detailing specifics about the operation/use of LSVs in the Commonwealth. The legislation would take effect immediately upon passage into law.
MICHIGAN Prohibits LSVs from operating on streets with posted speed limits above 35 mph. The driver of an LSV must possess a valid operator or chauffeur license, the LSV must follow the same titling and registration laws as passenger vehicles, and the LSV must have its own 17 character Vehicle Identification Number. Occupants of the vehicle are required to wear a crash helmet unless the LSV is equipped with a roof that meets or exceeds the standards for roof-crush resistance (49 C.F.R. 571.216).
Minnesota does not title or register LSVs, nor are they allowed to use public streets or highways. Driver and Vehicle Services is interested in keeping abreast of any action EVAA may be taking in the pursuit of legislation regarding LSVs.
Mississippi has passed LSV legislation and we are in the process of locating detailed information about the laws enacted.
The Missouri Department of Revenue will title and register LSVs with the presentation of the required paperwork. LSVs are titled and registered in the same manner as other motor vehicles. Taxes are based on the purchase price and registration fees are charged according to vehicle horsepower.
MONTANA At this time, under current Montana statutes, these vehicles would be on the road legally. The Montana legislature has not chosen to specify a minimum speed limit on any road in Montana. We would register these.
NEBRASKA Nebraska has passed LSV legislation and we are in the process of locating detailed information about the laws enacted. Nebraska considers LSVs to be golf carts and some communities have local laws and regulations governing the operation of golf carts.
NEVADA Allows LSVs that have been registered and that comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to operate on highways with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less. (NRS 484.527)
Representative Packard introduced HR 76 on January 8, 2003. The bill defines a neighborhood electric vehicle and prohibits the operation of an NEV on roadways with posted speed limits greater than 35 mph. The legislation also requires certain safety features on the vehicle. The bill, which was referred to the Transportation Committee, passed the House on January 30 and has been referred to the Senate. Bill was passed on April 22, 2003 by Governor Craig Benson (R).
On January 6, 2006, Governor Cody signed LSV bills into law. Senate Bill 1834, makes LSV‘s street legal on New Jersey‘s roads with a posted speed limit of 25 MPH or less. Municipalities and counties can opt to authorize the use of LSV‘s on streets with speed limits of up of 35 MPH. S. 1834 was sponsored by Senator John Adler. A companion bill, sponsored by Assemblyman John Wisniewski, was introduced in the State Assembly.
Governor Bill Richardson (D) signed HB 388 on February 24, 2004. The law allows LSVs on roadways with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less, and would require drivers to possess a valid drivers license.
Chapter 585 of the Laws of 2001 amended the Vehicle and Traffic Law by adding a new section 121-f in relation to low speed vehicles. It defines an LSV as a limited use automobile and further defines a limited use automobile as a limited use vehicle. The Department of Motor Vehicles adopting an emergency regulation that went into effect in November 2002 that permits LSVs that are certified in New York to be registered in NY State for on-road use on roadways with speed limits of 35 mph or less.
Allows LSVs to be operated on streets and highways where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less and the vehicles must comply with applicable safety standards. LSVs can be titled and licensed as private passenger vehicles.
Chapter 39-29.1 allows for the licensing and registration of LSVs for on-road use.
Ohio has passed LSV legislation and we are in the process of locating detailed information about the laws enacted.
Effective November 1, 2001, the Oklahoma Legislature enacted legislation providing for the optional registration of low speed electric vehicles, within established guidelines. To be eligible, the vehicle must meet FMVSS500 safety standards, at which point they may, at the option of the owner, be titled and registered upon presentation of proper titling documentation. Oklahoma law also prohibits operation of LSVS on streets with posted speed limits above 35 mph.
The Oregon Legislature provided for title and registration of LSVs in the Oregon 2001 legislative session. The legislation limits the operation of LSVs to streets with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less. The vehicle must meet NHTSA standards for LSVs. All LSVs must have either a manufacturer's certificate of origin (MCO) that specifies that it was manufactured to Federal LSV standards, or a Federal Standards Sticker that indicates it meets Federal LSV standards. If the vehicle has neither, the owner must complete a self-certification.
Pennsylvania has passed LSV legislation and we are in the process of locating detailed information about the laws enacted.
There is no provision in the State of Rhode Island banning the use of LSVs on public roads, hence such EVs are legal in the state. LSVs are subject to registration and insurance requirements just like other private passenger vehicles. Operators must have a valid license and adhere to all traffic regulations.
Golf Carts allowed to travel 4 miles from residence. Low speed vehicles that meet the required federal safety standards to operate on streets and highways may be registered. However, the vehicle may not be operated on a street or highway that has a minimum posted speed greater than the maximum rated speed of the vehicle.
South Dakota licenses a four-wheeled electric vehicle as a noncommercial (automobile) vehicle. Titling also is required.
The Title and Registration Division permits LSVs to be titled when the MSO indicates that such vehicles comply with certain safety standards and the top speed has the capability of exceeding 20 mph but not more than 25 mph. LSVs should be restricted from use on primary roads. A bill is currently before the Tennessee General Assembly to specifically include LSVs in the definition of a motor vehicle and further to establish a specific license plate for the restricted use of the vehicle. Until such legislation is enacted into law, the Title and Registration will continue to title and register LSVs in the manner described. On May 14, Governor Don Sunquist (R) signed HB2796 into law. (Chapter 747). The bill allows low speed vehicles to be operated on streets and highways where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less. Effective July 1, 2002.
Requires slow moving vehicles (which are defined as operating at a maximum speed of 25 mph or less) to display a "Slow-moving Vehicle Emblem" when operated on public streets and highways. Exempts such vehicles from the Safety Inspection Act. Requires these vehicles to be registered and titled.
On March 15, 2002, Governor Michael Leavitt (R) signed HB171 into law (Chapter 34). The bill allows low speed vehicles to be operated on streets and highways where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less; exempts LSVs from emissions inspections and maintenance program requirements, and requires a slow moving vehicle identification number on the rear of the vehicle. Effective October 1, 2002.
Vermont passed Bill SB297 - Act No. 91 on May 1, 2002. The bill, defines a low-speed “neighborhood electric vehicle”, requires both a flashing caution light or reflector and a reflectorized slow moving vehicle symbol in addition to meeting federal safety standards (FMVSS500), and prohibits the operation of LSVs on roadways with posted speed limits greater than 35 mph. The legislation would allow a driver to cross roadways with posted speed limits not in excess of 50 mph.
Passed Law HB571 on low-speed vehicles. Authorizes limited over-the-highway operation of low-speed vehicles, defined as four-wheeled electrically-powered vehicles, other than golf carts, whose maximum speed is greater than 20 miles per hour but not greater than 25 miles per hour, that are manufactured to comply with safety standards contained in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 571.500. Low-speed vehicles may be operated on public highways with speed limits of no more than 35 miles per hour by licensed drivers or learner's permit holders accompanied by licensed drivers. The same registration and insurance requirements applicable to passenger cars apply also to low-speed vehicles.
Washington has passed LSV legislation and we are in the process of locating detailed information about the laws enacted.
At the present time, the Division of Motor Vehicles does not have any laws pertaining to slow-moving vehicles. The code defines a "motor vehicle" as every vehicle which is self-propelled and every vehicle which is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails. West Virginia is looking into slow-moving vehicles and hopes to propose legislation next year. Providing these types of vehicles pass inspection, the division will possibly issue a title and registration; however, they would be restricted to certain highways based on their speed limitations.
Wisconsin law does not allow on-road use of LSVs. Until the Wisconsin legislature and Governor enact authorizing legislation, Wisconsin will continue to allow only off-road use of low speed vehicles.
Wyoming has passed LSV legislation and we are in the process of locating detailed information about the laws enacted.