It’s Time to Register Your Moped

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.