In Your Corner: Are Indiana's Moped Laws Falling Behind?

By Ryan Elijah

November 18, 2011 Updated Nov 18, 2011 at 8:58 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Some question if DUI offenders are using mopeds to skirt Indiana law after losing their license. Ryan Elijah takes a look at what the Hoosier state's law says and how it compares to other states.

It may be a quiet sound on the road, but mopeds are making a much louder noise among lawmakers around the country. What was once a device that needed pedals to start, has now become, for some drivers, a way to still drive after having your license suspended.

The Fort Wayne Police Department has seen an increase in mopeds on the roads. According to Indiana state law, a moped driver doesn't need a license, registration or insurance. We found most states have more regulations on moped drivers. In Ohio for example, a license and registration are required.

Just last year, there was a push by some Indiana lawmakers to toughen moped laws, but a debate over loopholes stalled the movement.

Some critics say tougher laws would penalize the poor. We found one moped driver who said he lost his license years ago for not having insurance and he feels tougher laws would take away his only means of transportation.

"I can't walk because of my health, so I need a motorized option. I don't have the money to reinstate my license, so my only option is the moped", said, Paul Sexton, who drives a moped every day.

Sexton says he can drive all week on $5 and he says he simply can't afford to reinstate his license.

He's certainly not alone on area roadways. On Goshen Road, you'll see a moped parked outside the Gateway Barber Shop, Owner Richard Frantz has been riding since 1987. He has another vehicle, but rides his moped less than a a mile each day to work. He says he rides on back roads and feels many moped drivers are risking their safety.

Under Indiana law, mopeds are not allowed on interstates or sidewalks. In terms of laws, 49cc engine size is the magic number. Anything above that makes it a scooter, and the driver has to follow the same laws as motorcycle drivers. Most of those can't go over 25 miles per hour, giving police a benchmark.

This year, one lawmaker said registration fees could generate nearly $78,000 in fees for the state. Oregon passed a law that forbids a person from driving a moped if they've lost their license due to drunk driving. For now, police will focus on what is law. Drivers must be 15 years old. Passengers are illegal. A license isn't required, but a state issued ID card is a requirement.

Many of Indiana's moped laws were written more than two decades ago and it's unclear if the General Assembly will tackle the issue in next year's session.

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