Although mopeds may seem to bear more similarities to bicycles than to cars, in Maryland they are considered full-fledged motor vehicles that must have a proper title and insurance. If you ride a moped in the state, you’re required to have a valid driver’s license or moped operator’s permit, and the law requires that you wear a helmet.
State law defines a moped as different from a bicycle in the following ways:
- It’s intended to be operated with human power and assisted by a motor.
- It has pedals that can mechanically operate the rear wheel or wheels.
- It includes either two or three wheels, with one of at least 14 inches in diameter.
- It has a motor rated at less than 1.5 brake horsepower. If an internal combustion engine constitutes the vehicle’s motor, it must have a capacity of less than 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement.
Title Decals for Mopeds
All mopeds and motor scooters operated in Maryland must display a title decal. You should display your decal on the back of your moped in a spot where it’s visible, and you’re not allowed to transfer the decal to a different owner. When you ride a moped, you’re also required to carry your proof of insurance.
In several circumstances, you will not be able to use the online process to get your title decal and will need to go to a Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration office:
- If the moped is subject to a lien.
- If ownership is transferred.
- If you don’t have a Maryland driver’s license.
- If the moped lacks a vehicle identification number.
Valid License Required
You don’t need a Class M motorcycle license to ride your moped, but you do need a valid driver’s license either from Maryland or from the state or country in which you live. If you don’t have a driver’s license, you can obtain a moped operator’s permit.
The state of Maryland doesn’t issue moped operator’s permits to individuals who have had their driving privileges suspended or revoked, and you must be at least 16 years old to get a permit. You’ll also be required to pass a vision screening test and a test of your driving knowledge. A parent or guardian must accompany anyone younger than 18 who applies for a permit.
Legally Operating a Moped
In Maryland, anyone riding a moped is required to follow the same laws that apply to bicyclists. You’re required to ride as far to the right side as you safely can, except when you’re:
- Turning left.
- Driving on a one-way street.
- Passing another vehicle that’s slower or stopped.
- Avoiding hazards or pedestrians.
- Driving on a street where the right lane is right-turn only.
- Driving in a lane that’s too narrow for a bike or moped and another vehicle to travel beside each other safely.
You’re allowed to ride side-by-side with another moped rider only if you can safely do so without impeding traffic. You’re also required to use caution when passing another vehicle, and headsets or earplugs are not allowed under most circumstances.
Mopeds may not go faster than 30 miles per hour, and they’re not allowed on roads where the maximum speed limit is higher than 50 miles per hour. Riders are required to use paved bike lanes or paved shoulders when they’re available.
Protective Gear and Safety
Anyone riding on a moped is required to wear a motorcycle helmet that is DOT-compliant. If your moped doesn’t have a windscreen, you and any passenger also are required to wear protective eye devices.
Mopeds provide little protection from other vehicles, and safety is critical to avoid a crash that could leave you with serious injuries. The Maryland MVA offers the following tips to help you stay safe when riding your moped:
- Wear clothing that is brightly colored or reflective to make you more visible to other motorists.
- Wear a DOT-certified helmet and protective eye device, as required by state law.
- Always obey posted speed limits, and do not drive faster than your skill level or the current conditions warrant.
- Never ride in the blind spot of another motorist.
If you’re in an accident on a moped, it’s important to work with experienced attorneys who will fight to protect your rights. To speak to an attorney now, please contact DuBoff & Associates, Chartered.