What is a moped? And why does the North Carolina General Assembly care? You have joined us for the second post about a bill in the state House of Representatives that would require moped operators to have insurance and license plates. If passed this year, it would go into effect July 1, 2015.
As we mentioned in our last post, state law defines “vehicle” in a few different ways. For traffic violations and DWIs, a vehicle is anything that is not propelled by human power that can drive on a highway. Mopeds cannot drive on highways.
Keep reading the statute, though, because anyone driving any vehicle on a highway, street or any “public vehicular area” is prohibited from driving while impaired. The door is open, then, for someone driving a moped to be charged with a DWI. But a moped driver cannot lose his license because of a drunk driving conviction, because he does not need a license. Buried deep in the statute detailing the requirements for driver’s licenses is the following:
Neither a driver’s license nor a motorcycle endorsement is required to drive a moped.
It is easy to understand, then, why a person whose license has been suspended or revoked would turn to the moped as a means of transportation.
So what’s the big deal with the bill?
As we said, the bill would require moped drivers to carry auto insurance — enough to cover bodily injury, property damage and liability. It would also require moped owners to register their “vehicles.” According to the bill’s sponsor, coverage should be about $65 per year. Registration shouldn’t put too much of a dent in a moped owner’s pocket, either, he said.
The cost to the moped owner is nothing compared to the cost to the vehicles — cars and trucks — involved in accidents with mopeds, the sponsor continues. The number of accidents is on the rise, and drivers and their insurance companies are forced to foot the bills because the moped operator is not covered.
In our next post, we’ll discuss the reasoning behind the bill.
WRAL, “Moped insurance bill advances,” Laura Leslie, June 19, 2014
West’s North Carolina General Statutes Annotated, via Westlaw.com