Moped fad causing some concerns
This summer has seen an increase in the number of mopeds that are cruising around the city of Blue Earth, and law enforcement officials have expressed some concerns.
“We have received some calls and questions,” says Blue Earth Police officer Missy Felion. “Especially when so many of them started being used around the city.”
Most of the concern has been with younger riders and whether it is legal for them to ride these ‘mini-motorcycles’ or not.
A moped is defined as having an electric or gas engine with an engine piston displacement of 50cc (cubic centimeters) or less. They also cannot be able to go over 30 miles per hour.
Anyone with a valid drivers license is able to operate the mopeds without a motorcycle endorsement on their license.
However, once the engine is over 50cc it becomes a motorcycle and an endorsement is required.
Young persons at 15 years old can ride a moped after having received a moped permit.
County Attorney Troy Timmerman says there are quite a few rules for the mopeds, especially when young persons are involved.
“Anyone under 16 or who does not have a driver’s license has to have a moped permit,” Timmerman says. “They (15-year-olds) will also have to take a state approved moped safety course and then pass a vision test and knowledge test in order to get a permit.”
The law states someone 14-years-old can take the class, but has to wait until they are 15-years-old to apply for the permit.
After passing the tests, they receive a 30-day moped operator’s instruction permit at first, then have to pass a skills test on their moped, just like a driving test in a car.
At that time they receive a moped permit good for one year.
There are other rules, Timmerman says. That includes following all the traffic laws like any other vehicle. “Anyone under the age of 18 also needs to always wear a helmet on a moped,” Timmerman says. “They also need to have liability insurance coverage and have working headlights and tail lights.”
Officer Felion says the police have not been randomly stopping moped riders to check whether they have a valid moped license or driver’s license, at least not yet.
“But if they are stopped for another reason, like a traffic violation, then they will need to have the permit and current insurance card,” she says.
County attorney Timmerman says certain traffic violations on a moped could cause an issue for a young person’s ability to get a regular drivers license.
“Things like driving impaired or under age drinking and driving could cause the person to not be able to get a drivers license for a year or more, or until they are 18,” Timmerman explained. “Any crash or more than one traffic violation on a moped could also cause an issue with getting a future driver’s license.”
The county attorney says that both a judge and the Department of Public Safety have the ability to suspend any driving license, without any hearing on the matter.
“We just really want people to be aware of the laws about these mopeds,” Timmerman says. “They are vehicles and need to be titled and registered and insured just like you do your car.”
And, he adds, people should be aware that young people need to be at least 15 years old to ride them and they do need to have a special moped permit.
“We also want everyone to drive them safely and follow all the traffic laws,” Officer Felion says. “And other drivers should keep an eye out for them and give them space like any other vehicles.”