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Officials: Motorized scooters subject to same laws as other motor vehicles to same laws

July 01, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Nearly all motorized scooters will be subject to the same laws as other motor vehicles in the wake of talks between Washington County authorities and the State's Attorney's Office, a Washington County Sheriff's Department captain said.

That word comes just a few weeks after the sheriff's department said it would strictly enforce laws governing the use of some motorized scooters.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Capt. Doug Mullendore said area authorities will continue to strengthen enforcement of motor vehicle laws because of recent talks with the Washington County State's Attorney's Office. Mullendore said many of the motor scooters used on public roadways and sold at area businesses will be considered motor vehicles and will need to be registered as such.

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He said that renders useless a vast majority of scooters currently being operated on public roads.

According to a memorandum from Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Steve Kessell to local law enforcement agencies, many of the scooters being used locally do not technically meet the Maryland Transportation Article's definition for mopeds, motor scooters, play vehicles or bicycles. Kessell said scooters that resemble a skateboard with a handlebar, and occasionally a seat, meet the definition of a motor vehicle.

Kessell said in the memorandum that the vehicles must be registered and must have the following equipment: a stop lamp, turn signals, emergency flashers, a parking brake and a rearview mirror.

Those vehicles without such equipment will be useable only on private property, he said.

Mullendore has said the use of scooters on public roads and sidewalks has become an increasing problem.

Mullendore said the sheriff's department has instructed deputies to continue issuing warnings instead of traffic citations to first-time offenders because many, especially juveniles, believed the vehicles were street legal when the scooters were purchased.

"We're still doing the warnings - If it's a juvenile, we're taking them home to the parents and explaining the situation," Mullendore said.

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