First of all, hoverboards aren't real, but that is the most popular term used to describe those self-balancing scooters that Justin Bieber propels himself forward with. Type "hoverboard" into Amazon's search bar and that is what we are discussing here.
Earlier this week, the NYPD's 26th Precinct tweeted: "Be advised that the electric hoverboard is illegal as per NYC Admin. Code 19-176.2*."
But the code they referenced doesn't explicitly state that hoverboards are illegal—instead, it seems to suggest they are legal:
- "For purposes of this section, the term 'motorized scooter' shall mean any wheeled device that has handlebars..." — the hoverboards do not have handlebars.
- "For the purposes of this section, the term 'motorized scooter' shall not include electric powered devices not capable of exceeding fifteen miles per hour..." — the hoverboards (like the most popular version, the IO Hawk) have a max speed of around 6 MPH.
So... hoverboards are legal? Slow down, McFly. It turns out that with new technology comes great confusion. Earlier this year one NYPD officer told CBS2, "We don’t know—new technology. We don’t know." Helpful. Another officer declared hoverboards were allowed in parks (watch out for open bodies of water!), while another said they were allowed anywhere. Wheeee! But they aren't, no matter what you think you saw on Buzzfeed.
The NYC Department of Transportation, however, has landed on firmer ground when it comes to rules surrounding hoverboards—they told us that these devices are in fact illegal. They are considered motor vehicles that cannot be registered with the DMV, which means they're prohibited in the city (under NY State Law, Article 14, sections 401-a and 401-b). Even though they aren't in the DMV's list of expressly prohibited motor vehicles, they are considered motorized self-balancing devices, similar to Segways.
Both the NYPD and the Parks Department have the authority to enforce this rule, and if caught you get fined up to $500. Have you been busted for hoverboarding? Please drop us a line and tell us your story.
UPDATE:A civil liberties lawyer explains why your "hoverboard" is illegal in NYC.
*In 2013 the City Council revised NYCAC 19-176.2(a) to omit everything in that subsection after "for use by disabled persons." but the fact remains that because these devices do not have handlebars NYCAC 19-176.2 cannot apply to them.