A new law set to go into effect next week will require moped owners to register their vehicles with the state.
Senate Bill 404, which was passed into law during the 2015 Nevada Legislature, mandates that moped owners must obtain a license plate for their scooters starting Nov. 1. Moped owners have until Jan. 1 to register their vehicles before law enforcement begins issuing citations to those who have yet to obtain a license plate.
The law is said to have been passed largely to deal with moped thefts, according to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.
Nye County Sheriff’s Office 1st Sgt. Harry Williams said the office is often unable to track down owners of impounded mopeds.
“The law was put in place to be able to track down unregistered scooters, bikes like that because we have a problem with theft. It’s not just scooters, it’s off-road vehicles as well,” Williams said. “So you get a lot of people stealing mopeds, off-road vehicles, and there’s no way to track them down. If they don’t keep their VIN numbers, we are unable to put them in our system and be able to figure out if they are stolen or not.”
Williams said a lot of people don’t keep the paperwork that has a VIN (vehicle identification number) when they buy mopeds, which makes it difficult to determine if a moped has been stolen.
The Nye County Sheriff’s Office impound yard has a few dozen impounded mopeds, according to Williams.
“If we can’t auction them off or do whatever they do with them after the impound yard, it’s probably sometimes years that they’ve been in there,” Williams said.
As it stands, law enforcement has no easy way to determine whether a moped is stolen or to notify the owner of an impounded vehicle. Once located, owners often have no proof of ownership for their mopeds, the DMV said in a statement.
Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Eric Murphy said the department is typically allowed 90 days to find the owner but often ends up keeping mopeds much longer.
“The way the statute is written, we have to try every means necessary to find the legal owner,” he said. “Some of the means would be running the VIN number, see if we can track it that way or go into the report and see if they listed whom they stopped on a moped, and then we send them a certified letter so we can keep track of it.”
In addition to aiding theft cases, the DMV stated that moped registration will also enhance public safety by ensuring riders are licensed drivers and that the vehicles are registered and insured.
“Moped theft has been a difficult problem,” said Officer Chuck Callaway of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. “Registration will help in both locating owners and prosecuting offenders.”
To register their mopeds, owners must bring their vehicles to the DMV for an inspection to determine whether the vehicle is a moped and to establish the vehicle identification number.
In rural counties where there is no DMV office, a sheriff or deputy sheriff can complete the inspection, but the vehicle must still be registered in person at a DMV location.
“Make an appointment to register your moped,” said Terri Albertson, director of the Nevada DMV. “This will get you through the process as quickly as possible and help us keep the impact on our offices to a minimum.”
Registration fees for a typical moped will total approximately $60. The price includes a $33 registration fee, one year of Governmental Services Taxes based on vehicle value, license plate fees and miscellaneous charges.
Tax exemptions and fee credits can be applied. An additional title fee will apply if a title is issued.
The moped registration will remain valid as long as the owner retains the vehicle, as there is no annual renewal like most other vehicles.
Murphy said he expects the new law to make it easier to track down owners of mopeds.
“What the new law will do is it will make them have to have that (VIN) number,” Murphy said. “It will be on the vehicle and then, when we run that number, DMV will be able to have a hit on it.”
Mopeds are issued a distinctive moped license plate and the DMV will issue a title to an owner if they can meet the requirements for a title. Otherwise, the owner will receive a registration only.
If the vehicle is determined to be a motorcycle through the DMV inspection or a citation from law enforcement, the owner will have to register and ride it as a motorcycle with annual registration, insurance, helmet use and Class M license, according to the DMV.
Under Nevada law, a “moped” constitutes a motor-driven scooter, motor-driven cycle or similar vehicle that is propelled by a small engine which produces not more than two gross brake horsepower, has a displacement of not more than 50 cubic centimeters or produces not more than 1500 watts final output.
A moped must also reach a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on a flat surface with not more than one percent grade in any direction when the motor is engaged.
Senate Bill 404 additionally requires any business that sells, leases or rents mopeds to obtain a DMV business license. Information and applications are available on the DMV website at www.dmvnv.com.
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