A bill approved by the N.C. House last week takes the unusual step of requiring owners of mopeds to register their vehicles with the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.
Under the legislation, owners of mopeds would have to pay a $40 title fee and a $15 or $22 registration fee and fasten a license plate to the vehicle.
Supporters of the bill say the legislation is needed to help law enforcement identify mopeds when they are in an accident or used in a crime. The bill’s primary sponsor, N.C. Rep. Phillip Shepard, R-Onslow, even went so far as to incredulously say, “Many of these (vehicles) are used in illegal activities.”
Put aside the absurdity of the alleged worth of a moped as a getaway vehicle and consider that this bill paves the way for the state some day to require moped owners to obtain driver’s licenses and insurance in order to operate their vehicles. Shepard indeed has declared that the bill is just a starting point as more people use mopeds in the state. The legislation also directs a legislative committee to study whether more regulations are needed.
Critics of the measure correctly argue that the legislation would hurt low-income people who may be trying to get back on their feet after a drunken driving conviction or who cannot afford a car and rely instead on a moped to get back and forth from work.
The DMV estimates that 8,000 mopeds are sold each year in North Carolina and 17,000 mopeds currently are in use on state roads.
If 25,000 mopeds were registered in the first year of the law, that would equal at least $375,000 in registration fee revenue and another $1 million in title fee revenue for the state. That, critics say, is the reason for the bill, not to make roads safer, help law enforcement officers or fight crime.
This bill certainly flies in the face of all the lip service Republican lawmakers like to give to the idea that government already regulates too many facets of people’s lives. Hopefully, the N.C. Senate will take a more reasoned – and reasonable – approach to this legislation and keep it from coming to that chamber’s floor for a vote.