- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Starting Jan. 1, Nevada will require moped owners to register the vehicles in an effort to curb a Wild West environment where hundreds of scooters are stolen each year and rightful owners have no easy way of getting them back.

The Department of Motor Vehicles has been processing registrations since Nov. 1, and moped owners are subject to citations starting Jan. 1 if they don’t comply with the new rules. Fees vary by jurisdiction, DMV spokesman Kevin Malone said Wednesday, but Las Vegas courts fine drivers $205 on the first offense for an unregistered vehicle.

The sponsor of the bill that led to the registration requirement, Democratic state Sen. Mo Denis, said last year before it passed that he opposed registering mopeds in the past because owners frequently do not have much money but that moped thefts were causing millions of dollars in property losses.

Police said the mopeds, which become more popular when gas prices rise, are often stolen and resold on the internet or dismantled at “chop shops” where they’re used for parts. If owners can’t prove a moped is theirs through dealership records, police have to turn the owners away when they try to file a report or claim the vehicle.

They pile up at impound lots, unclaimed.

Under the new rules, the DMV will keep records of each moped’s vehicle identification number to document ownership and the owner will get a special moped license plate. The one-time fee for registering the vehicles is about $60 but varies depending on the value of the scooter.

Owners must bring their moped to the DMV to verify the vehicle identification number and whether it is a moped or a motorcycle.

Unlike faster, more powerful motorcycles, mopeds don’t require liability insurance or a motorcycle-specific driver’s license, and riders don’t need to wear a helmet. However, moped riders do need to have an active driver’s license valid for cars or motorcycles.

It’s unclear how many mopeds are in Nevada, but the pace of registration appears to be slow.

Only 298 mopeds were registered with the Nevada DMV from Nov. 1 to Dec. 4, Malone said.

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