Smithfield Herald

Riders must register their mopeds

North Carolinians will soon have to register their mopeds.
North Carolinians will soon have to register their mopeds. FILE PHOTO

Starting July 1, North Carolina will require all mopeds to carry a license plate and register with N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles.

Johnston County moped riders can expect to pay $18 to comply with the law, said Pat Proctor, supervisor of the license plate agency in Smithfield. The cost will be higher in some counties, such as Wake, which will charge an extra $5, with the money going to fund the Wake County Transit Plan.

The DMV’s computer systems will not be set up to handle moped registrations until the law goes into effect, Proctor said, which means riders will have to wait until July 1 to take action. That could make for a hectic day at license plate agencies across the state.

“I’m pretty sure it will be a little bit busier than normal,” she said. “And it’s the first of the month also, so that makes it busier.”

North Carolina defines a moped as a vehicle that has two or three wheels; lacks an external shifter; has an engine no larger than 50cc; and has a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour on level pavement. Riders must be age 16 or older and wear a motorcycle helmet, but they do not need a driver’s license, insurance or annual inspections.

To qualify for registration, a moped must have been designed and built for use on highways and parking lots, and the owner must present a manufacturer’s certificate of origin.

The General Assembly passed the new rule last year, and several legislators also pushed to require moped owners to carry liability insurance. State Motor Vehicles Commissioner Kelly Thomas said at least 19 states require riders to obtain coverage.

In January, Thomas asked a legislative committee to pass many more regulations, including requiring riders to have insurance. In addition, he recommended laws that would:

▪  Bar automobile drivers who have lost their licenses because of medical problems or impaired driving from operating a moped.

▪  Require a driver’s license or state-issued ID card for all moped operators.

▪  Outlaw mopeds on roads where the posted speed limit is 45 miles per hour or faster.

State authorities reported 3,812 crashes involving mopeds from 2009 through 2013. The number included 115 fatalities. About one-third of these crashes and two-thirds of the deaths were on roads with speed limits of 45 mph or higher, according to state Department of Transportation crash statistics.

Legislators said that requiring license plates for mopeds will help police with traffic enforcement. Sen. Joel Ford, a Charlotte Democrat, said it also will help law enforcement keep track of “individuals who are operating these mopeds who are committing criminal activity.”

Felix Gurley, who owns Thrills on Wheels Scooters in Princeton, is no a fan of the new regulations. “It’s going to hurt business,” he said.

Gurley is relieved legislators did not pass even more rules, but it will be more trouble for his customers to have to register the vehicles. Some riders might have difficulty coming up with the required paperwork, he said.

Things were working just fine the way they were, Gurley said, and it’s hard for him to see what benefit the new rules will have.

“I don’t quite understand what the purpose is,” he said.

Reporter Bruce Siceloff contributed.

Hamlin: 919-836-5768