No special license for moped riders

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Scooters and moped riders who don’t exceed 30 miles per hour can now ride in Rhode Island without a special license, thanks to a new law.

“This is good news for scooter and moped riders, good news for those who sell or rent them, good news for tourism and good news for the environment in Rhode Island,” said House Majority Leader Gordon Fox, D-Providence.

Last summer, scooter dealers on Block Island and in Providence sued the state Department of Administration, which governs the Department of Motor Vehicles, for requiring all riders of such vehicles to have motorcycle licenses.

Riding scooters is a popular activity for many tourists on rural Block Island, who usually rent them for a day or two from rental agencies on the island, said Brian Peterson, associate director of the Department of Administration.

The scooter dealers were afraid the license requirement would mean trouble for their rental businesses because most tourists don’t have motorcycle licenses, Peterson said.

A superior court judge in South Kingstown agreed with DMV’s interpretation of the original law, but urged the General Assembly to change it to accommodate “modern technology relating to two-wheeled vehicles” on the state’s highway.

The reworked law in Rhode Island mirrors Massachusetts legislation.

Operators of scooters with engines less than 50 cubic centimeters who keep a speed limit of 30 miles per hour only need a valid driver’s license, Peterson said.

But operators of motor scooters that exceed 30 miles per hour must still take a course and a test to get a motorcycle license, he said.

The change went into effect late last month after it passed in the General Assembly.

While the law makes scooter dealers and state officials happy, some Block Island residents have objected to it, citing health and safety hazard as a concern.

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