Sure, Change the Moped Law…But Was it Really for Public Safety?

“..to combat moped theft.”

Unfortunately folks, the Golden Era of riding a moped in Las Vegas is coming to end. We’ll always have Paris though, right?

I may be the bearer of bad news, but I promise this is the type of thing you wanted to be aware of in December before it went into effect. I’m on your side.

Your friends in the Nevada legislature updated the moped laws in the 2015 session. But it was for your own good! See above.

Today we will take a look at the new law and clarify the confusion out there so that when it goes into effect on January 1, you will be prepared. Additionally, I will, toward the end of the discussion, explain how they could make the law more fair to moped riders.

But Brian, haven’t you picked on the legislature enough this year already? If any of my friends from up north are reading, it was the fact that you all keep saying you are doing this for the sake of the moped riders that spurned me to investigate further.

So they wrote a new law did they..

Nevada SB 404 Brought an End to All of Your Moped Fun

Remember the good old days when you could go on the amazon, buy a foreign-made motor vehicle, and plug-and-play. Those were the days.

..And here come the squares. Again, please don’t get mad at me. I’m just telling you what the law is.1)Frankly, I’m helping

 

moped las vegas nevada law

 

Now for any of you out there that think licensing moped riders is a simple endeavor, allow me to dispel you of that notion. Crazy how something so simple is so technical to implement.

Let’s start with definitions (These are from 2009). Suppose moped is an excellent place to start.

NRS 482.069  “Moped” defined.  “Moped” means a motor-driven scooter, motor-driven cycle or similar vehicle that is propelled by a small engine which produces not more than 2 gross brake horsepower, has a displacement of not more than 50 cubic centimeters or produces not more than 1500 watts final output, and:

      1.  Is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground but is not a tractor; and

      2.  Is capable of a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on a flat surface with not more than 1 percent grade in any direction when the motor is engaged.

The term does not include an electric bicycle. (Added to NRS by 1975, 1075; A 1983, 895; 2009, 394)

“[D]oes not include an electric bicycle”? What else would you call these things?! It’s right about at this moment when I notice the public get annoyed. I swear there is a good reason for these distinctions. Here’s the electric bicycle definition.

NRS 482.0287  “Electric bicycle” defined.  “Electric bicycle” means a device upon which a person may ride, having two or three wheels, or every such device generally recognized as a bicycle that has fully operable pedals and is propelled by a small electric engine which produces not more than 1 gross brake horsepower and which produces not more than 750 watts final output, and:

      1.  Is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground but is not a tractor; and

      2.  Powered solely by such a small electric engine, is capable of a maximum speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on a flat surface while carrying an operator who weighs 170 pounds.

The term does not include a moped. (Added to NRS by 2009, 394)

Ok, fair enough. But what if my “moped” can go faster than 30 mph?

NRS 482.070  “Motorcycle” defined.  “Motorcycle” means every motor vehicle designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, except any such vehicle as may be included within the term “electric bicycle,” “tractor” or “moped” as defined in this chapter.

      [Part 1:202:1931; A 1951, 165; 1953, 280]—(NRS A 1975, 1075; 2009, 394)

See it? A moped displaces “not more than 50 cubic centimeters.” Displacing more than 50ccs gets the bike classified as a motorcycle.2)My television pilot, Fun with Statues, is still available to be picked up! Why wait Netflix?

What Changes in the Law for a Moped Starting 1 January?

This is a fun tool your State of Nevada provides free of charge to the general public. That PDF includes the text of the Revised Nevada3)See what I did there? Statutes revised by SB 404. When you see text in blue, that’s language that has been added to the statutes. Text that has been crossed out in red has been removed from our statutes.

 

moped law las vegas nevada

 

I can exemplify the changes in the 36 page bill from Section 9:

Sec. 9. NRS 482.384 is hereby amended to read as follows: 482.384 1. Upon the application of a person with a permanent disability, the Department may issue special license plates for a vehicle, including a motorcycle [,] or moped, registered by the applicant pursuant to this chapter. The application must include a statement from a licensed physician certifying that the applicant is a person with a permanent disability. The issuance of a special license plate to a person with a permanent disability pursuant to this subsection does not preclude the issuance to such a person of a special parking placard for a vehicle other than a motorcycle or moped or a special parking sticker for a motorcycle or moped pursuant to subsection 6.(emphasis present)

They did a quick Cntl-F and added “or moped” to the statutes whenever there was motorcycle. Simple enough.

The obligations/liabilities for motorcycle riders now apply for moped riders too.

Apparently, there was a question amongst the legislature if a moped is dangerous enough to be classified as a motorcycle. I deduce this by the legislature requiring that a moped by registered once, but not requiring the moped to be registered yearly like a motorcycle.

And given that the question is not that obvious, they hedged.4)A good strategy for compromise/less so for logically consistent law The question remains, why do other vehicles need to be registered yearly, while once is sufficient for a moped?5)Makes you wonder about those DMV fees..

If the New Moped Law is About Public Safety, Why Not Just Say So?

Metro isn’t hiding the ball/trying to trick anyone. Chuck Callaway explains to the Las Vegas Sun:

Chuck Callaway, Metro Police director of intergovernmental services, helped shepherd the law through the Legislature. He believes it will act as a deterrent and help police nab thieves: Officers will have a reason to stop any moped without a plate, and those with plates can be run through a patrol car’s computer.

Callaway said that while he was surprised the rejection rate for moped registration might be as high as 50 percent, he knew many vehicles wouldn’t qualify. “The reality is, they’re motorcycles but they’re operating under the guise of being a moped. Registering them will help in that regard with public safety.” (emphasis added)

They say they will allow January 2017 as a period for people to register, but as of 1 January, Metro will be permitted to do this by statute. I know there are a lot of folks that are mad about the new laws, but let’s keep things in perspective. They didn’t have to tell you; although you may ask questions about intent, implementation has been fair.

Are Moped Drivers Actually a Risk to Public Safety?

I’m sorry if I don’t believe that this is really all about moped drivers losing their bikes; if that was the case, the state would have made this law optional for moped drivers that felt in danger. That way, the way would be specifically tailored to just the folks that need it, while it would balance the (what many moped drivers are saying are) overbearing costs of having them register such an insignificant vehicle.

Mandatory registration is different. It benefits the state in two distinct ways:

1. As discussed above, the law provides legal protection for police officers to pull over an unregistered moped. Don’t underestimate the importance of positive legal authority. But..

2. Provides additional revenue.

What has yet to be discussed (by anyone from what I can see) is the revenue angle to the new law.

Now if moped riders were causing a high number of accidents, our community would be justified in having them register/collect fees for pay for the harms. No one even has the audacity to even claim this. Recall my opening quote.

Doubtful, also, that this is the most efficacious means raise needed revenue. What if we find out that the new regulations price out people from driving a moped and s/he can’t get to work anymore?6)This is just one example That’s a net loss for all of us.

I say again, if this new law only is about protecting moped riders, make the registration optional. That way, the riders that need protection can have it, and those riders that cannot afford to register their moped do not have to.

Thanks for reading.

If you actually wanted to take the class (I don’t know how to drive a motorcycle, this includes me.), the College of Southern Nevada has a lot of great options for not very much money.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Frankly, I’m helping
2. My television pilot, Fun with Statues, is still available to be picked up! Why wait Netflix?
3. See what I did there?
4. A good strategy for compromise/less so for logically consistent law
5. Makes you wonder about those DMV fees..
6. This is just one example
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