Mopeds are an economical means of transportation used by many in Virginia. However, since they are more than bicycles, unique state laws apply to mopeds and their use.
In Virginia, a moped is any vehicle with not more than three (3) wheels touching the ground that has a seat height of at least 24 inches, a gasoline/electric/hybrid engine that is 50 cubic centimeters or less, and travels at a speed of no more than 35 mph (§46.2-100 – Code of Virginia).
Can I Legally Drive a Moped on Surface Roads or Freeways?
Mopeds are legally treated the same as other vehicles on the road under Virginia law, which means they can be driven on surface roads as long as it is titled and registered (§46.2-613). Registering a moped to obtain the proper license plates involves submitting ownership documents, a title fee, an annual registration fee, and completing a moped certification, but they do not require inspections for safety or emissions purposes. However, mopeds cannot be driven on freeways.
Moped operators must be at least 16 years old (§46.2-914) and do not need to have a driver’s license but must carry a government-issued photo identification card with their name, date of birth, and address. However, if an operator’s driver’s license is suspended or revoked because of a DUI, drugs, or as a habitual offender, they cannot operate any type of vehicle, including mopeds.
Do I Have to Wear a Helmet on a Moped in Virginia?
Virginia requires moped drivers and passengers to wear a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet and eye protection. If the moped is equipped with a windscreen or windshield, then the rider is not required to wear eye protection, but it is encouraged (§46.2-915.2). Although mopeds travel at lower speeds, an accident without a helmet can still be devastating. Operators are already at an increased risk of suffering severe or fatal injuries due to their lack of protection, which is why helmets are mandatory.
Other Laws You Should Know
By law, moped operators cannot wear headphones, earbuds, etc., while on public roads (§46.2-1078). Mopeds must also have working brakes, headlights, and tail/brake lights (§46.2-1015 and §46.2-1066).
Tips for Staying Safe on a Moped
Here are some safety tips for operating a moped in Virginia.
- Wear safety gear. In addition to a helmet, gloves and a thick jacket can possibly protect you from a serious injury in an accident.
- Make sure to be seen. Wearing brightly colored or reflective clothing and keeping your headlights on can help other drivers see you.
- Be heard. If you are unsure if a driver sees you, beep the horn to ensure they know you are there.
- Stay in control. Remain alert, follow traffic laws, obey the speed limit, and adjust for inclement weather.
- Drive defensively. Pay attention to other drivers on the road to anticipate their movements so you can react accordingly.
You may be entitled to significant compensation if you are involved in an accident while riding a moped. Speak to a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney today.