Gas Scooter LawsGas scooter laws can vary from area to area. You can't always just get a gas scooter or moped and start driving. For example Florida requires you to have a drivers license to take your moped on the road, but you need to register at the tax collectors office and you'll get a motorcycle plate for your moped. A moped cannot go over 30 mph (it must have pedals) and must have an engine under 50cc. The gas scooter laws are the same, except you do not need to register but you do need a license. In any case riders under 16 are required to wear a helmet (like with a bicycle), but that's sort of a moot point since you can't get a license if you're under 16. The motorcycle laws require you to wear a helmet if you're under 21, if you're over 21 you'll need $10,000 of personal injury protection. This is just an example, you'd need to check with the DMV for your state for correct information.
California Scooter Laws
California scooter laws consider a vehicle a scooter if the rider can stand while riding. It can have a seat but if it interferes with standing, it's not a scooter. Unlike Florida California allows scooters to travel on bike paths and bike lanes, but it cannot go over 25 mph. They do not need to be registered or titled but the driver must be over 16. Vespas and other traditional type scooters must be registered regardless of how many cc's. A scooter or moped that goes over 20 mph needs a special license. Not only that there are certain emissions standards that are required for California. Make sure your scooter is allowed, the state will ask for your registration back if you are sold a scooter that doesn't meet the standards.
You can see that different states have very different laws. What one considers a scooter, the other considers a motorcycle. Some can operate like bicycles, some need a license. Some have limits on speed or engine size. Some need emissions checks some don't. Just make sure you check the gas scooter laws in your state before you buy.