Driving Loopholes for Fairfax Mopeds Closing

Most people think if they lose their license they can replace their car with a moped for transportation. Mopeds are defined by the Virginia code as any vehicle with less than three wheels that displaces less than 50 cc's and has a seat that is less than 24 inches in height. According to police officials, in 2013, there were almost 600 crashes across the state involving non-motorcycle two-shelled vehicles. 12 of them were fatal. In 2013, a 17-year old Reston boy was involved in a traffic fatality while riding a moped.

Moped drivers do not need a driver's license to operate on the "highways" of the Commonwealth. New laws in 2013 and 2014 mandate that all mopeds with engines of 50 cc's or more must be titled and registered with the Virginia DMV, and that moped riders need to carry a photo ID with them. If a driver's license is suspended for fines and costs, the driver can operate a moped, even though you can't drive a motor vehicle. It illegal to drive a moped if the driver's license is suspended or revoked for convictions of DUI, underage consumption of alcohol, refusing a blood or breath test, or driving while on a suspended or revoked license for a DUI-related offense. Operation of mopeds has always been prohibited on interstates.

MOPEDS = MOTORCYCLES - According to state law If a moped is operated in excess of 35 miles per hour, it is essentially considered to be a motorcycle. The driver will be required to comply with all the motorcycle requirements such as vehicle registration, insurance, inspection requirements and including requiring a motorcycle endorsement on the driver's operator license. "Mini-bikes" have seat heights less than 24 inches high, are for use on private property and are not street-legal for use on public highways.

On July 10, Fairfax County Police Department participated in training aimed at enforcing moped laws and other two-wheeled vehicles. The head of this training effort admitted "Even some police officers find [moped laws] confusing, which is why I'm trying to make them aware of the existing safety regulations with these classes. After learning about all the two-wheeled cycle safety regulations in my class last week, every officer who participated said they issued citations within two hours of attending my class."

In years past, moped drivers could commute with relative impunity and freedom. Riding a moped/scooter is no longer a "liquor license." Police are looking to enforce driving laws against moped riders like all other operators. A moped driver must be 16, wear a helmet, eye protection, and register the vehicle with DMV. Like all other drivers, moped riders must now be aware of police and the law.

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