It’s Time to Register Your Moped

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Beginning tomorrow, mopeds must be registered with the Division of Motor Vehicles to be lawfully operated on the state’s roadways. This post addresses several questions that have arisen regarding this new requirement. 

What’s a moped?  A moped is “[a] vehicle that has two or three wheels, no external shifting device, and a motor that does not exceed 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement and cannot propel the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on a level surface.” G.S. 20-4.01(21a) (incorporating definition in G.S. 105-164.3). Motorized vehicles that otherwise matched this description but had larger engines or were capable of traveling faster than 30 miles per hour on a level surface already were required to be registered. See G.S. 20-50(a).

The new registration requirement.  S.L. 2014-114 enacted G.S. 20-53.4, effective July 1, 2015, which requires that mopeds be registered before being driven on streets or highways in the state. To be registered, the moped must have a manufacturer’s certificate of origin and must be designed and manufactured for use on highways or public vehicular areas.

The fee for registering a moped is the same as that for registering a motorcycle–$18.00. See G.S. 20-87(6). Additional fees apply to residents of Durham, Orange, Randolph, and Wake Counties.

Is insurance required? Not yet, but it likely will be beginning July 1, 2016. The General Assembly ratified H 148 last week, and the bill awaits the governor’s signature. The bill amends G.S. 20-309(a) to require that owners of mopeds provide proof of financial responsibility before a moped may be registered and that they maintain such a policy throughout the registration period.

Is failing to register a moped a crime? Yes. Driving an unregistered moped on a street or highway or allowing a moped you own to be so driven is a Class 3 misdemeanor. See G.S. 20-111(1). The same is true for failing to display a current registration plate on a moped. Id.

Given the newness of the requirement, DMV Commissioner Kelly Thomas has asked law enforcement officers to consider issuing warning tickets rather than citations during the first thirty days the law is in effect.

Are more changes coming? Perhaps. The act that required registration of mopeds directed the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee to study whether additional statutory changes are needed to ensure the safe operation of mopeds. The North Carolina Department of Transportation recommended to the committee earlier this year that driver’s licenses be required for the operation of a moped and that mopeds be prohibited from roadways with speed limits of 45 miles per hour or greater.

7 comments on “It’s Time to Register Your Moped

  1. Increasing restrictions on moped owners is counterproductive. People whose licenses are suspended still have to get to work and get around. If doing so on a moped becomes just as difficult and expensive as doing so in a car, then they will drive a car rather than a moped. The current exceptions for a moped gives a person who is suspended a legal (albeit, generally unpleasant) way to travel and thereby creates a compromise between living illegally (i.e.by driving) and living like some bizarre hermit. After all, most North Carolinians do not live in a walkable environment, and public transportation in most NC towns is either a joke or simply non-existent.

    I don’t know what problem they’re trying to solve here, other than yet another tax on the poor, but these laws will not make the roads safer. Just the opposite in fact.

    • People driving mopeds should have to endure the pains of taxation and fees as the rest of the citizens in this state. Since a majority of the citizen operating mopeds do so because they do not have a license to drive car or trucks it is only fair that they have to register and insure their mode of transportation. The registration also benefits the owner in that there is a record of ownership besides word of mouth or some paper receipt in the event of a theft. As far as safety the registration requirement will not make it safer for the moped rider, but a driving test requirement may help those with that mode of transportation since I do not see many that know what “right of way” means.

    • It’s a minimal registration fee. Very minimal. Like, what, $30 roughly a year. As for the insurance requirement, it is only fair that if you operate a motor vehicle on the road it be insured. As mopeds have become more common, a lot of times in cities people who have no DUI or suspensions are driving them simply because the initial cost is lower, there is no insurance, and in general it’s way cheaper, so too have crashes involving mopeds. This kind of hamstrings the car driver because the moped owner never has enough to pay out of pocket for damages, so the car driver’s insurance is eating that cost. Why should someone who is obeying the law and doing the lawful thing have to pay for car damage that wasn’t their fault?

      I think this is a good and equitable law.

    • Well stated.

    • I’m with you on this one. Everybody needs a way to get around and there are a lot of non walkable distances people need to get to especially if it involves a job or work so they can better there lives and for some people if possible work toward getting there license back if they lost them

  2. It should not matter if it is a moped or a vehicle. Mopeds are operated without insurance which leaves the other property owner responsible for damage caused by careless operators. The argument that moped operators use these vehicles for work related purposes is not a valid reason. I have to pay for tags, insurance and inspections as does most other vehicles. Moped operators are no better

  3. […] It’s Time to Register Your Moped | North Carolina Criminal Law – It should not matter if it is a moped or a vehicle. Mopeds are operated without insurance which leaves the other property owner responsible for damage caused by … […]

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