Laws governing the operation of mopeds have changed significantly in recent years. Mopeds now must be registered before they may be driven on state roadways, and the owner of the moped must have insurance. An overview of the current legal requirements for moped operation is set forth below.
First, what’s a moped? For years, the term “moped,” has not been separately defined in the motor vehicle statutes. Instead, the term is defined in the State’s tax statutes as “[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. 105-164.3. Effective December 1, 2016, however, Chapter 20 will have its own definition, which will be incorporated into the tax statutes by cross reference.
New G.S. 20-4.01(27)d1 defines a moped as “[a] vehicle, other than a motor-driven bicycle or electric assisted bicycle, that has two or three wheels, no external shifting device, 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. The motor may be powered by electricity, alternative fuel, motor fuel, or a combination of each.” S.L. 2016-90 (H 959), section 13.(a).
The registration requirement. G.S. 20-53.4, effective July 1, 2015, requires that mopeds be registered before being driven on the streets or highways of 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 for registering a motorcycle: $24. G.S. 20-87(6).
Driving an unregistered moped on a street or allowing a moped you own to be so driven is a Class 2 misdemeanor. G.S. 20-111(1). The same is true for failing to display a current registration plate on a moped. Id.
The insurance requirement. G.S. 20-309(a) requires, as of July 1, 2016, 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. Legislation was proposed in 2016 to delay this effective date, but was not enacted. S 821, section 46.(a).
Moped drivers must be at least 16 years old. G.S. 20-10.1 makes it unlawful for a person under the age of 16 to operate a moped upon a street or public vehicular area. Violation of this provision is a Class 2 misdemeanor. G.S. 20-35.
Moped drivers are not required to have a driver’s license. While the North Carolina Department of Transportation has recommended that driver’s licenses be required for the operation of mopeds, the General Assembly has not acted on that recommendation.