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No ruling on scooters but policing continues

While the debate over "mini-motorcycles" continues, authorities continue issuing warnings and citations for unregistered scooter

While the debate over "mini-motorcycles" continues, authorities continue issuing warnings and citations for unregistered scooter

August 12, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

Although the Maryland Attorney General's Office has not released a ruling on the legality of scooters that resemble miniature motorcycles, enforcement efforts continue, authorities said.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Capt. Douglas Mullendore said a ruling from the Attorney General's Office on "mini-motorcycle" scooters, which resemble but are smaller than Honda and Harley-Davidson bikes, has been expected for more than a week but has not been released.

Mullendore and Del. Chris Shank, R-Washington, said they believe the ruling will clear up the last bit of controversy about the use of scooters. Shank said there has been a gray area in the law because some products released after state laws governing motor scooter use were enacted were not specifically named.

"The attorney general needs to say whether it's apples or oranges," Shank said.

While the debate over "mini-motorcycles" continues, authorities continue issuing warnings and citations for unregistered scooters that have a step-through chassis or to unlicensed drivers using them on public roads, Mullendore and Hagerstown Police Department Chief Arthur Smith said.

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Local business owners maintain that the scooters are legal and that the laws have been misinterpreted.

According to a June 30 letter addressing that type of scooter signed by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Acton II, "motor scooters must be registered, and their operators must have a license or permit if they are operated on a public roadway."

Jill Wile, of Cascade, said she believes authorities should not have waited so long to begin enforcing laws against the vehicles. She said the previous lack of enforcement led people to believe they could be ridden legally.

She said her 14-year-old son "purchased one with his hard-earned money, and he can't ride it anymore."

Wile was among those who signed a petition protesting the recent increase in enforcement.

Randy McNabb, 44, of Williamsport, also signed the petition.

McNabb said he was angry with businesses that have been selling scooters as being street-legal.

McNabb, who owns a "mini-motorcycle" and used to drive it to work to save money on gas, said personnel at such businesses should have been 100 percent sure before they sold the scooters.

"The only reason I bought it is because I was told it was street-legal," he said. "I would have never bought it if I knew there was a dispute."

William Patterson, who lives north of Hagerstown, also signed the petition, but said he changed his mind on the issue after coming close to crashes with scooters in the city.

"Almost running over three people here in town changed my mind," said Patterson, who said he opted to buy his son a bicycle instead.

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