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Your Hoverboard is Illegal

By Nicole Levy | November 19, 2015 11:50am | Updated on November 19, 2015 1:57pm
 Riding a self-balancing electric scooter, a.k.a.
Riding a self-balancing electric scooter, a.k.a. "hoverboard," in the street, in a parking lot or on the sidewalk could earn you a fine of up to $200,
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Getty/Christopher Furlong

You've definitely seen them gliding down the sidewalk, but you probably didn't know they're illegal.

Riding a self-balancing electric scooter, a.k.a. "hoverboard," in the street, in a parking lot or on the sidewalk could earn you a fine of up to $200, according to the Daily News. 

The legality of hoverboards — your best way of acting out Marty McFly's getaway in "Back to the Future Part II" — became a topic of conversation Monday, after the NYPD’s 26th precinct, covering Morningside Heights and parts of West Harlem, tweeted out that the personal transportation devices are illegal under New York City's administrative code.

“Be advised that the electric #hoverboard is illegal as per Admin. Code 19-176.2," read the tweet, which was later deleted.

It was likely erased because that code only outlaws motorized scooters with handlebars and those that exceed 15 m.p.h. (Some hoverboards can't even reach 8 m.p.h.)

It's New York state vehicle and traffic law that prohibits the use of hoverboards, which are considered motor-powered vehicles that cannot be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation pointed out to DNAinfo in an email.

It remains to be seen whether the NYPD will enforce the law. The police force has been criticized in recent years for ignoring a 2004 city ban on the sale and use of electric bikes, which remain a popular means of transporting restaurant takeout, but, like hoverboards, can't be registered with the DMV. Even after the city council passed a law to redouble the injunction against e-bikes and stiffen the penalities on delivery people using them in 2013, the NYPD came under fire for supposedly delaying enforcement of the legislation. 

Mor Loud, manager of a store at 1664 Broadway in Midtown that sells self-balancing electric scooters manufactured by Whizboard, opened his store's doors for the first time last week. He said he isn't worried about a police crackdown on him or his customers. The NYPD has instructed him to ride his own hoverboard on the sidewalk or in bike lanes, rather than the road, but they haven't ticketed him, he said.

He considers the $499 model he sells, which travels at a maximum speed of 6 m.p.h., "a kid's toy, a gagdet, not a vehicle." 

hoverboard store

A store selling hoverboards in Midtown (credit: DNAinfo/Nicole Levy)

"If 50 percent of people in the streets were riding it, there would need to be more regulation," said Loud, who said that 50 percent of purchases at his store are made by customers visiting from out of state.

Hoverboard are also illegal in the United Kingdom, where legislation banning them says they're too unsafe to ride on the road and too dangerous to ride on the pavement. 

You could, of course, always protect yourself and others this way: