By Joe Beck
Local police and the state Department of Motor Vehicles are spreading the word that moped owners must register their vehicles with the DMV and obtain a title from the agency by July 1.
The new rule follows a tightening of state law in 2013 that requires moped owners to carry a government-issued photo identification document with them when they are driving on state roadways.
It will cost $10 to obtain a moped title and $20.25 for registration, which is good for one year.
Matt Butner, a communications consultant with the DMV, said in an interview that state officials are unsure how many mopeds are operating in Virginia and hope the new regulations will make it easier to keep track of them.
"I think one of the reasons for the legislation is we really don't know how many mopeds are out there," Butner said. "We just know there are safety concerns with them.
"When a moped is involved in a crash, we want to do what we can to make sure everything works out for that person."
Figures from the DMV show more than 1,800 mopeds have been registered in the state thus far, although Butner believes the total number on the roads is much higher.
Statewide data show there were 600 moped accidents in 2013, 12 of them fatal. Alcohol was a contributing factor in 20 percent of all accidents and 10 percent involved excessive speed, according to the DMV.
The DMV data shows a total of 1,967 people have been injured in 2,062 moped crashes over the past five years.
State law also requires moped drivers to be at least 16 years old, and drivers and riders must wear a Virginia State Police-approved helmet. Drivers are also required to wear a face shield and add safety glasses or goggles if they are riding a moped that lacks a windshield.
A state-issued photo ID is required to be carried while driving a moped, and if the moped is driven in excess of 35 miles per hour, a driver's license is required. It is against state law for a person who has had a driver's license suspended or revoked for DUI convictions, underage consumption of alcohol, refusing a blood/breath test or driving while suspended or revoked for a DUI-related offense to drive a moped.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org