Earlier this week, the NYC Police, 26th Precinct tweeted that such hoverboards are illegal in New York City under a local administrative code law (NYC Admin Code 19-176.2). The tweet was later deleted, but not until the word had spread and the media outlets began to declare one of the hottest toys of the upcoming holiday season could earn you a $500 fine on the streets of the Big Apple. Well, that was wrong.
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Not (yet) illegal under city code, but likely under state law
A quick read of Code 19-176.2 makes it pretty clear that these popular devices do not meet the definition of a “motorized scooter” under the NYC Admin. Code because they lack “handlebars” and are not “capable of exceeding fifteen miles per hour” (they top out around 6 MPH).
Nevertheless, while and until the NYC regulations catch-up to technology, be mindful of the New York State law “requires all motor vehicles to be registered with the NYS DMV.” Should a motor vehicle not be able to be registered, then “they are not permitted” and thus illegal.
Illegal or not, the NYPD has far more important concerns
Police are people too. And police should and do properly prioritize their proactive and reactive enforcement measures, especially in one of the most energetic metropolitan areas of the world. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Casey Neistat traversing the streets of NYC on his hoverboard to prove such a point.
As one officer specifically says, “Not for me, no” when asked if their enforcement of these illegal toys is a “tremendous priority to [the NYPD]?”
Lastly, should you be detained by an officer for using a hoverboard, do not argue with him or her. Do what you should always do: politely ask if you are free to leave and if so, leave (carrying your board); if not, provide your identification, state that you wish to remain silent and to consult with an attorney. Offering to carry the board going forward and a simple apology may be enough. Arguing the law (right or wrong) will not help your situation.
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