Own a Moped in North Carolina? You Really Need to Know These Legal Items
Just last week the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issued a second notice to over 28,000 residents of the state in an effort to remind moped owners of a new law which takes effect on July 1 of this year. Beginning July 1, all owners of Mopeds in this state are required to have a liability insurance policy in full force and effect which insures their mopeds just like cars and motorcycles. The Department of Motor Vehicles sent the first notice a couple months ago but if you are like most people you have waited until now to act.
What Happens if you Fail to Follow the Law?
If you don’t provide DMV with proof of insurance then DMV can revoke your license plate for your moped. If this happens and you are stopped by law enforcement then you may receive a traffic citation. Then you may have to go to court and may have to hire a lawyer, pay court costs and fines and in the end register your moped after paying the fees, getting the inspection and paying for insurance.
What is this New Law?
The new law is titled “An Act to require owners of mopeds to have in full force and effect a policy of financial responsibility (meaning liability insurance on the moped), to provide that mopeds are subject to safety inspections, and to make clarifying changes related to the law requiring the registration of mopeds.” Now North Carolina is basically placing three interconnected requirements on moped owners.
1) Moped defined as Motor Vehicle. NCGS 20-4.01(23) now reads “every vehicle which is self-propelled” and runs on the highway. NCGS 20-279.1 (6a) now includes moped in the definition of motor vehicle. This means that moped is now defined as a motor vehicle for purposes of our laws and specifically insurance laws.
2) Registration now Required. NCGS 20-309(a) which says “the owner of each motor vehicle registered in this SHALL maintain financial responsibility,” adds “for purposes of this Article, the term “motor vehicle” includes mopeds.” This places an absolute duty on moped owners to provide proof of liability insurance as a condition precedent to DMV granting moped owners registration and license plates.
3) Insurance Companies are now permitted to write insurance coverage for mopeds. NCGS 58-36-3 says “Member companies writing moped liability insurance or theft or physical damage insurance may incorporate … liability and physical damage policies issued under this Article.” This means that insurance companies are now allowed to provide liability insurance for moped drivers to pay for damages to others for at fault accidents and also pay for property damage to the moped. The real reason for this law is to make moped owners pay for damages caused by operation of at fault operators. Moped drivers can cause crashes on roads just like drivers of other vehicles. Now they are liable for paying for those damages and the state will enforce it. This is good news for all persons on the road including moped owners. Now moped owners will have insurance to protect themselves and others on the road.
This law only applies to moped owners in our state. Under NCGS 58-40-15, mopeds used outside of this state are specifically excluded. This means that if you operate your moped in another state you should check the laws regarding your use of your moped in that state. Remember, North Carolina laws apply to residents and visitors to our state, not other states.
Safety Inspection now required. NCGS 20-183.2 now reads, “A motor vehicle, including a moped … is subject to a safety inspection …” This means that now your moped must be inspected before DMV will allow you to register your moped and get a license plate. However, your safety inspection does not include an emissions inspection, which is specifically excluded under subparagraph (b).
Registration of Moped Required. This is the place where the new law comes together. NCGS 20-53.4 requires that ALL mopeds be registered with DMV. The owners will pay the same base fee and will receive the same registration card and plate issued to owners of motorcycles. Most importantly the cost is the same as for a motorcycle. However, in order to get the DMV plate for your moped, you must do two (2) things:
- Provide proof of safety inspection and
- Provide proof to DMV that you have insurance on your moped.
You are not required to get a title for your moped from DMV. You are required to have insurance, have a safety inspection and pay fees for registration with DMV. Once these conditions are met you can get your DMV plate and lawfully operate your moped on the roads and highways of North Carolina from the mountains to outer banks.
North Carolina Driver’s License Required too.
Operators of mopeds are also required to have a valid Driver’s License. Now that moped is defined as a motor vehicle this requirement is crystal clear.
This law takes effect on July 1, 2016. It will apply to all mopeds that are currently being operated and also apply to owners who purchase a new moped after this date. Once we all get used to these new requirements it will be almost as easy for us as when we register our vehicles and motorcycles. This new law will not apply to standard bicycles or other non-self-propelled methods of transportation such as horses.
Riddle & Brantley strongly encourages every moped owner and operator to make sure that you comply with these laws imposed on the ownership and use of mopeds in our state. If you operate a moped in violation of these laws then law enforcement may issue citations to you which may cost you more money in the end and you will still have to pay the fees, get your moped inspected and pay for insurance. We remind all moped operators to obey all the rules of the road and follow all safety recommendations on the operation of your moped so you can avoid crashes.
For more than 35 years, the North Carolina car accident lawyers at Riddle & Brantley have successfully represented the great people of North Carolina.