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Law enforcement officials, scooter dealers plan meeting

July 14, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

WASHINGTON COUNTY

shappell@herald-mail.com

Owners and managers of Washington County businesses that sell motorized scooters still are not on the same page with local law enforcement officials about what is legal on public roads.

People on both sides of the issue are scheduled to meet this week to discuss the issue.

Members of the Washington County Sheriff's Department, Hagerstown Police Department, Washington County State's Attorney's Office and business owners are to meet Friday at 9 a.m.

Washington County law enforcement agencies in June stepped up enforcement efforts, including the issuance of warnings and citations for drivers of what authorities say are illegal scooters.

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"We're just trying to get everyone on the same sheet of music," Sheriff's Department Capt. Douglas Mullendore said.

One of the owners scheduled to attend is Patrick R. Mayhew of VIP Mobility on South Potomac Street.

Mayhew said efforts to curb the use of what he believes are legal vehicles have caused instability at the business and an influx of angry customers who are afraid to use scooters they purchased from him.

"It's devastated me. My receipts have dropped 50 percent in the last 3 1/2 weeks," Mayhew said. "It's my civil right to sell a legal vehicle, and it's a violation of my customers' civil rights to be cited."

According to a July 2003 letter e-mailed to Mayhew from the Motor Vehicle Administration, scooters that do not meet minimum requirements to be categorized as a motorcycle do not have to be registered in Maryland. Those minimum requirements include an engine with at least 1.5 brake horsepower and a capacity of at least 49 cubic centimeters piston displacement. It also said many traffic laws applicable to bicycles under state law also are applicable to scooters on public roads.

Mullendore said last month that law enforcement authorities consider many of the motor scooters used on public roadways and sold at area businesses to be motor vehicles. As such, they would need to be registered, rendering many of them useless.

Mayhew and Jeff Davis, general manager of Twigg Cycles Inc., said they believe officials have overstepped the bounds of current Maryland laws and misinterpreted the opinion of a member of the Washington County State's Attorney's Office about what is a legal scooter.

"The state of Maryland says they're legal," said Davis, who said he was unaware of the upcoming meeting. "But you really can't blame the cops. It's a new law, and there are some unsavory characters out there that will try to expand the meaning of the laws."

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