The Saints Scooter club website has pages that outline the laws for DC, Maryland and Virginia. A brief scan of the laws show two major distinctions: 1) Would a given scooter be classified as a moped or a motorcycle 2) Distinctions between D.C. laws and Maryland/Virginia laws.
In the suburbs a “Moped” is any vehicle that has an engine size of 50cc or less, produces no more than 2 bhp, and can travel not more than 30 mph. These jurisdictions do not require a moped operator to carry a license, insurance, wear a helmet or register their moped to secure plates. In D.C every scooter, regardless of engine size, is a motorcycle. Only a motorized bicycle with pedals is considered a moped under D.C. codes. Therefore scooter owners must carry a motorcycle endorsement on their license and have liability insurance. The scooter must have a title, registration, and display plates and undergo bi-annual inspection. Operators must wear a helmet and eye protection and may only park in parking spaces provided for 4-wheel vehicles (no sidewalk parking).
Should D.C. be treating 50cc scooters more favorably? Helmets should be mandatory but what about the rest?