Once free of DMV, now scooters/mopeds need titles and plates by July 1

RICHMOND, Va. — For generations, mopeds and little scooters represented the last bastion of motoring freedom. If the motor was under 50 ccs  – basically powered by a popcorn popper – all you had to do is get on it and ride.

New immigrants, poor folks, students and young-uns could get around on their freedom machines.

It was the favored transportation of those who had lost their licenses for drunk driving, hence the nickname “liquor-cycles”

Then the laws came marching in. Drunk drivers couldn’t roll like that anymore.

Helmet laws and eye protection, of course. Anytime over 50ccs was treated as a motorcycle.

And now, effective July 1, you’ve got to register and plate your jewel with DMV. The price will be $30.25 for the first year and $20.25 for each year thereafter.

Chelsea Lahmers with Scoot Richmond was part of the panel that came up with the law, to help thwart  the explosion of thefts as these 80-mile-per-gallon-and-up rides become ever more popular.

Before, you stood next-to-no chance to get your stolen ride back, she said. Now, if it’s found or police run into it, you stand a much better chance of getting it back.

“It’s still the easiest way to get on two wheels without doing a lot of stuff,” Chelsea said. (You still don’t need insurance, a license or an inspection.)

Longtime moped mechanic Dana Birmingham is in total agreement. Those who complain about losing their freedom should just “get over it,” he said.

But my old friend and longtime rider Nigel Peyton says it’s a tax on the poor, who make up a large percentage of the moped/scooter population.

He and others believe current owners should be grandfathered – so they don’t have to comply. Many of bohemian-style riders take great pleasure in modifying and parts-swapping to keep their ancient steeds running, so many have no titles or bills of sales to bring to DMV.

If you have one of these Frankenbikes or “rat-peds,” you can still register it, with a little more legwork.

All this to thwart crime. This wouldn’t be happening without this stinking crime wave.

Me, I hate thieves. I hate having to lock up my stuff and keep up with my keys and worry when my motorcycles are in rough areas or when I have valuables in my car.

Now they’ve stolen away the last bastion of motoring freedom.

I hate that. I always liked the idea that a poor or disconnected person had a cheap way to get around. And the renegade in me also liked the idea that there was this one way to fly under the radar.

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BE PREPARED:

Here’s a look at the form you will neeed:  http://www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/pdf/VSA12m.pdf

Bring in some form of government issued identification, such as a Virginia ID card, drivers license, etc. Basically the owner will need a Virginia customer number which is typically the number on one’s ID/license.

You do not need to have proof of purchase. Combining the affidavit in lieu of title with the other necessary documents allows the DMV to create a title without having proof of purchase. This is important because many bikes have been through many sets of hands before having been titled.