DC police cracking down on illegal mopeds

Mopeds lined up on a street corner in D.C. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

There are more and more mopeds weaving their way in and out of traffic on D.C. streets, prompting authorities to get tough on those who operate them unsafely.

Mopeds are seen as a faster and cheaper way to make deliveries, but they aren’t always operated in the safest manner.

The crackdown began last week, and it has already led to 108 citations, 117 impounded mopeds and 24 arrests. The campaign will continue through the summer.

“There’s a misperception out there that if it’s under 50 CCs that it doesn’t need to be registered,” said Capt. Daniel Harrington with D.C. police. But that’s not accurate.

D.C. law requires mopeds to be registered. Moreover, you need a license, insurance and you have to wear a helmet, Harrington said.

“If you see the tag that says 49 cc on the back, that’s bogus because they have to go to the DMV just like a car and get the registration, proof of insurance, because they’re operating on public space on a public roadway,” Harrington said.

He said odds are if a moped isn’t registered, it’s probably not insured either.

“We won’t go up to someone and just stop them for no other reason,” Harrington said. “If we see them operating in public space, and that doesn’t have a tag, then we can legitimately stop them for a traffic citation. And then from there, we just verify the documents.”

Harrington acknowledged that a lot of moped drivers are out running food and other retail deliveries since a moped can be a cheaper and faster option to maneuver through traffic.

A spokesperson for Door Dash told WTOP in a statement, “We send emails out to Dashers in Washington, D.C. who are using electric bikes, scooters and mopeds providing them with resources to help them know what kinds of devices are allowed and where they can use them. These emails also include reminders that no matter what kind of vehicle they’re using, Dashers must always follow all local rules and regulations.”

In addition, a representative from Grub Hub offered up a similar sentiment, saying it was committed to “safety throughout the delivery journey.”

“When people sign up to deliver with us, they agree to obey all local traffic laws and regulations. We offer in-app resources on delivery procedures and vehicle safety, along with quarterly safety tips for delivery partners on e-bikes, mopeds and bicycles,” Grub Hub said.

That’s all police say they’re asking for.

“No one’s trying to stop you from making a living,” Harrington said. “But you have to do it the right way.”

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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