Deputies cracking down on scooters

June 16, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

Many riders in the area may have to park their scooters soon because the Washington County Sheriff's Department is preparing to issue warnings and tickets to some without licenses or registration.

Capt. Douglas W. Mullendore said Monday that deputies will be more vigorously enforcing motor vehicle laws pertaining to scooters. He said many scooter riders do not have proper licenses or are operating vehicles that are not considered scooters, but rather motor vehicles.

Mullendore said the use of scooters and problems with those operating them has become more problematic in Washington County with the onset of warm weather.


"During winter months, it is not as significant a problem as the summer months," Mullendore said.

He said the problems include drivers going through stop signs at full speed and failing to yield to pedestrians.

Mullendore said all drivers of motorized vehicles, including low-powered moped-style scooters, must have operator's licenses.

Deputies have been instructed to escort unlicensed juvenile scooter drivers to their parents and issue them warnings, according to a sheriff's department memo dated May 27. Future incidents will result in traffic citations, the department said.

The memo included the following criteria for a motor scooter as opposed to other motorized vehicles:

  • It has a step-through chassis.

  • It has a motor of 2.7 horsepower or less or an internal combustion engine of 50 cubic centimeters or less.

  • It is equipped with an automatic transmission.

Those caught driving on public road with vehicles that exceed those standards for motor scooters could be subject to charges if they do not have them registered and insured.

Sgt. Travers Ruppert said the department decided to issue warnings for first offenses because it is believed many consumers have been misled by scooter dealers.

"A lot of the parents don't know, and some of the dealers are telling them it's OK to ride them on the street, which isn't the case," he said.

Jon Wine, sales manager at Twigg Cycles Inc., said store staff has informed all buyers about the need for some type of license. Wine said state law dictates that other restrictions cannot be applied to scooters with engines of 49 cubic centimeters or less.

"Nowhere in the law does it make requirements for apparel (such as helmets and other equipment) or registration," he said.

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