New State Laws Will Change How We Handle Mopeds

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by Camel City Dispatch

By Bryan Dooley


“I think it’s particularly a distinctively American concept that resonates with American culture through biker culture. A motorcycle is an independent thing. You’re like, ‘I don’t want to ride in a car with this person. I want to be independent and ride by myself, but let’s ride in a group. Let’s be independent, together.” Ryan Hurst, actor


Although Ryan Hurst spoke of motorcycles, his characterization also applies to mopeds and scooters. There is a little known North Carolina law called H1145 Registration for Mopeds that will go into effect in July 2015. Prior to the law passing, NC was one of only six states which did not require mopeds to be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Under the new law, law enforcement will treat mopeds and scooters like motorcycles. Riders will have to pay the same base fee, obtain the same registration card, and obtain the same license plate issued for a motorcycle. Moped and scooters will also have to have their original certificate of origins or provide an affidavit. (See full text of law below)

According to General Surgery News, Surgeons in North Carolina have pushed for changes in the laws based on a study led by Dr. Anna N. Miller, Orthopedic Surgeon at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston Salem. In that study, Miller and her colleagues found 49% of moped drivers having a prior history of DWI compared with only 8% of motorcycle drivers. Additionally, 64% of moped drivers were previously convicted of a crime, which is 44% more than motorcycle drivers. 28% of moped drivers had revoked drivers’ licenses compared with 6% of motorcycle drivers. The study included 249 moped drivers and 730 motorcycle drivers involved in collisions.

“We believe that mopeds serve as a mode of transport for those who are driving without a license and who may have a history of prior high-risk behavior,” said Dr. Miller, in an article originally published in The General Surgery News. “The use of these vehicles without a license likely presents a risk to public safety,” she said.

One example of high- risk behavior associated with mopeds is crime, since they are inexpensive and difficult to trace, because they currently do not have to be registered. According to Sergeant Robert Peterson, Winston Salem Traffic Enforcement Unit, criminals will employ any mode of transportation that gets the job done, including mopeds and bicycles.

Despite Miller’s findings, some moped/scooter users do ride the vehicles for economic reasons. Josh Alleman, a local shop owner and scooter enthusiast, and registration supporter, dislikes the “liquorcycle” cliché.

“I hate the stereotype,” said Alleman, “I’ve never lost my license or anything like that. I enjoy the economy and the fun of it. Some people do get into scooters because they messed up, and some people do certainly abuse the privilege – but the majority of DWI people I have met on scooters made a big mistake, and have to live with the consequences of their actions. They’re generally well-meaning citizens like anyone else.”


Sergeant Peterson believes this stereotype is out of date given current economic conditions. “I know the stereotype, but with gas prices, the stereotype has gone out the window,” said Peterson. “I’ve seen people from all walks of life using mopeds. The real problem is people selling mopeds and misleading buyers by not explaining what the laws are. That is no longer the case that the people with DWIs are the only people driving mopeds. In the last five or six years, that’s not really true anymore.”

Alleman further defends scooter use. “They do not all get drunk and go drive their scooters around,” he said. “Surely some of them do, but I think that habitual offenders are going to habitually offend – whether it’s driving their car under the influence or driving something else… I think most DWI people get into scooters to “serve their time” on a scoot. I know many who got into scooters and stuck with it, even after getting their license back.”

The City of Winston Salem’s website offers a clear breakdown of current legal definitions and fees associated with moped operation, but soon these will change. For many riders, mopeds have offered a more economical mode of transportation. The fees will run upwards of one hundred dollars per moped. Enthusiasts often have multiple machines. Alleman explores the financial impact of registering all of his scooters.

“I think for many enthusiasts such as myself, the law is going to be inconvenient financially,” said Alleman. “I own several scooters. Registering them all is going to cost, obviously. I know some people with five or six different scooters!”

The financial concern is not unique to Alleman. One Moped Army website member put it this way. “As I understand it, there will be a $30 fee for the title application and then a $20 registration fee,” he went on to state in an online forum. “That’s not terrible for one moped, but if you have several it adds up. I’m looking at about $600 to get my mopeds titled this year. I’m also not sure, as of yet, if there is a limit to how many mopeds can be titled in a year for a non-dealer.”

Several other forum contributors expressed concern about the financial impact on those moped users that rely on them for inexpensive transportation to work. New registration laws may put an extra drain on an already economically vulnerable population.

The pros and cons of moped registration guarantee controversy, from now until July and in the future. While the new law does not require a driver’s license or liability insurance for operators, those are recommendations which have been made by Kelly Thomas, the state motor vehicles commissioner.

Sergeant Peterson summarizes the facts about moped regulation. “I don’t make the laws,” said Peterson.” I don’t know what would stop this train. You can’t really stop the train now. It’s already done. A lot of people didn’t think it would happen, but it did. It’s a done deal and people are just going to have to live with it. If you don’t like the law, then lobby and get it repealed.”

New Moped Regs






Bryan Dooley is a graduate of Guilford College, where while earning a degree in History, he wrote for the The Guilfordian as a Staff Writer from 2011 to 2013, a Senior Writer from 2012 to 2013, and worked as a Diversity Coordinator. He now is a journalist and columnist with CCD. Bryan, who himself has cerebral palsy, is also an advocate for people with disabilities.

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