If your driving has been restricted or you've lost your license from a North Carolina DWI, you might wonder if driving a moped is an option. You still need to be able to get back and forth to work or school, right? While unlicensed motorists can operate a moped, it does come with a few caveats. There have been several recent changes to the law, and adhering to the regulations is critical for you to avoid getting arrested again.
Most people are capable of visually distinguishing between a moped and a motorcycle, but when classifying a moped for legal purposes, you have to look at the engine size. You see, some mopeds do come with an engine that's as large as 500 cubic centimeters, which essentially gives the moped more power and speed. But if you're not licensed, you cannot operate these faster models. Technically, they become classified as a motorcycle.
According to the NC General Statutes (G.S. 20-4.01 (27)d1), a moped is defined as a vehicle that has no more than two or three wheels, lacks an external shifting device, has a motor that's 50 cc or less, and is incapable of going faster than 30 MPH on a flat surface. The motor can either be powered electrically or with fuel.
Recent Law Changes
In order to lawfully operate a moped in North Carolina, you have to be at least 16 years of age and wearing a helmet. You do not have to have a driver's license, and until the recent past, you didn't have to carry any sort of insurance. But all that changed as of July 1, 2015. Additional changes include requiring that all mopeds be registered with the DMV and license plates obtained. Drivers also must have liability insurance with limits no less than $30,000/$60,000/$25,000.
You don't, however, need to have an annual inspection, pay property tax, or have any sort of ignition interlock device. So if you're required to have one for your car, you don't need one installed on your moped. Also, if you're handicapped, you can get handicap plates for your moped.
Rules of the Road
Even though a moped is a motorized vehicle, they are not a "motor vehicle" as defined by the General Statutes. In fact, they're actually treated more like a bicycle when it comes to the rules of the road. Therefore, moped drivers must follow the rules that apply to all vehicles, which include staying on the right side, obeying speed limits, stopping at stop signs, and using turn signals.
As you may have guessed, just because a license isn't required to drive a moped, this doesn't mean that you can operate it while intoxicated. The same laws apply to you as to those operating a true motor vehicle. You must be sober at all times.
Driving a moped without a license and with a history of DWI is perfectly legal, so long as you follow the above laws. But there are some special considerations here.
First, it's been estimated that a large number of moped drivers have a history of driving while impaired. And those that crash are more likely to be intoxicated than car or motorcycle drivers. In a study done at Carolinas Medical Center, out of all the patients seen for injuries sustained from crashed mopeds, 49% tested positive for blood alcohol levels. So it appears, based on the evidence, that those with a history of DWI either think it's okay to "drink and moped" or they simply believe they won't get caught. It's important to remember that it's not just your life that's at risk if you drive your moped after drinking, you could also cause an accident.
Also, even when you're sober on your moped, you're putting yourself at a much greater risk than you would be on a bus or in a cab, particularly if you're driving on high-speed roads. From 2009-2013, there were a total of 115 moped-related fatalities reported. Out of these, 77 were on roadways that had a speed limit of at least 45 MPH. Remember, you're not supposed to be on a moped that exceeds 30 MPH, so cars are going to be passing you. Just be aware of what's going on at all times, and stay as far to the right as you can.
If you need more information, get in touch with a DWI attorney, such as one from The Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel. They should be able to provide you with more specifics about the drinking laws in your area.Share
16 January 2017
Too many single people assume they don't need to plan their estate. My brother fell into this category, and his unexpected passing left our entire family struggling to deal with his home, belongings, and financial accounts. It took nearly three years for the courts to set up a deal because he left no paperwork detailing how he wanted his estate divided. The situation immediately convinced me to work on my own estate, even though I'm still in my early 30's and don't have children or a spouse to worry about. Since it's a little harder to pick beneficiaries and estate managers when you're single, I collected the resources I used for making my own decisions and decided to publish them here on my blog. Use these resources before talking to an estate planning attorney so you're prepared for making hard decisions.