Dear PoPville – Should I Register my Scooter?

Photo by PoPville flickr user julianne’s

“Dear PoPville,

I’m wondering whether I should register my scooter? I just purchased a used 50cc Vespa from Maryland, where it had been registered (but never got plates). As I understand it, DC’s new scooter law does technically require that 50cc scooters be registered and get a safety inspection. Looking around, though, it doesn’t seem that most scooters are registered (they don’t have plates, anyway). Any thoughts?”

34 Comment

  • Yes, you should.

  • Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles. They can probably tell you if you should register your motor vehicle.

  • ” As I understand it, DC’s new scooter law does technically require that 50cc scooters be registered and get a safety inspection.”

    If you know this, I don’t understand what your question is.

    • ah

      The question is “Help, PopVille, I want to justify to myself that it’s okay not to comply with vehicle registration laws. Can you give me those justifications?”

  • What does “technically” mean in this context? Is there some esoteric loophole that we’re all missing? Or are you just using weasel words to justify not doing what you’re supposed to?

    • I think the OP’s real question is “I know I’m supposed to register my scooter, but what are the chances of my getting busted if I don’t?”

  • Yes you should and you also have to wear a helmet in DC. Beware though it took me 4 moths to register a MD purchased motorcycle because the DC DMV claimed the dealer filled out the title incorrectly. After 4 visits, a call to the directors office and being lied to multiple times i was lucky enough to have someone realizes the title was fine from the start. Also luck enough to pay their $200 fee! YEAH GO FOR IT!

  • As my friend with a scooter told me, many people keep their plates attached by velcro or another easily removable way. Legally, scooters have to be parked on the street, but many people don’t want to because it’s hard to chain them to something on the street, and if they’re not chained they’re easily stolen (unlike motorcycles, which are large enough to make stealing them more difficult). So people park them on the sidewalk or wherever, chain them, and remove plates so they can’t get a ticket.

    But if you’re driving the scooter around town, you really need a plate or you’re getting pulled over.

    • brookland_rez

      It’s because VA doesn’t require plates. So if you take them off when you park on the sidewalk, they think you’re from VA where you don’t have to register it.

      Now if you get stopped by the cops for some other reason and they discover you’re not from VA, then you could get big tickets.

  • If you want to at least have chance to get it back after it is stolen… yes.

    Just because other break the law, doesn’t mean you should.

  • 1. Yes, you should get it registered. Why? Because if it gets stolen – and trust me, someone will attempt to do that within the first year of ownership – you have it on record as being owned by you.

    2. If you don’t register it, your insurance company will probably deny your claim, in case you injure someone, cause property damage, or if your scooter is stolen. You open yourself up to a world of liability by not registering.

    3. You use the roads, so you should help pay for them. The registration is only $50/year for motorcycles and scooters.

    4. I also park on the sidewalk, which is illegal, and have a velcroed license plate. You should do that, as well. The fine for parking on the sidewalk is $25 (which I’ve received when I forgot to remove my license plate while parked outside my office in the CBD).

    5. You will significantly decrease the chances of theft and vandalism if you keep your scooter covered. And be sure to have scooter cover that allows you to lock it to your bike (someone will steal the cover, if it’s not locked). I recommend this cheap cover, works well enough and includes a small cable and lock:

    Enjoy the ride! DC is a great city for scootering, it’s simply the best means for getting around town. All the advantages of a bicycle, except you’re not a sweaty mess when you get into work 😉

    • brookland_rez

      I rode a scooter for a while. Being on two wheels with a motor is nice, and there are definite advantages to having a scooter parking and all.

      One thing I remember about when I had mine though was that cars would always try to out run me and cut me off and stuff. Once I even had a lady pass me on a Monroe St NE, which a double bar road. I don’t know why, I had a 125cc and I was going an appropriate speed. I guess she just wanted to prove she was faster or something.

      Before the scooter, I rode bicycles. The scooter gets more respect on the road than bicycles. On my ZX10r’s, the cars leave me alone now, LOL.

  • The law says you must register your scooter. That should be all you need to know.

  • Nice argument. “You should register, because not registering is illegal. But velcro your plate so you can illegally park on sidewalks.”

  • @ Anonymous 3:24

    It’s a matter of protecting my property. You absolutely must lock your scooter to a secured object, otherwise someone will steal or vandalize it (e.g. knock it over & cause many scratches). Street parking – even designated motorcycle spots – don’t have anything to which you can lock up your scooter.

    The best comparison would be asking you to park your bicycle in a street parking spot with only your U-lock between your wheel and frame, without attaching it to a secured object. That is just asking for it to get stolen.

    Regardless, even with a license plate, the cops rarely issue tickets for scooters parked on the sidewalk, let alone pulling you over for no license plate.

  • You should register, but I would caution you about removing your tags when you park on the sidewalk. I removed my tags when I owned my scooter, but one day I was caught, it was $100 for improper display of registration and $100 for parking on the sidewalk. That was when I decided it was time to sell it as I had no place to store it off street.

  • A great answer – thanks!

  • @ Laroux

    How did they give you a ticket if your license plate was not displayed?!?

  • @ Laroux

    How did they give you a ticket if your license plate was not displayed?!? Where did this happen?
    I’ve never heard of this happening to anyone else.

    • Every scooter also has a VIN number with it, the ticket was written to the VIN. I live in Dupont and that is where I got the tickets. There were several other scooters on the block that also got tickets as well.

  • I think scooters should be allowed to park on sidewalks so long as they are not obstructing foot traffic. With limited street parking in DC, I can see people picking up an unchained perpendicularly parked scooter just to get a parking spot.
    But yes register your scooter. Mine was, first the plates were stolen and next the scooter – in broad daylight in Georgetown.

  • based on what this guy said , I wouldn’t do it , but I live dangerously.

  • Do you speed?

  • I assume you’d feel the same about registering a moped, which is also *technically* required? I’ve been trying for two years, through every legal avenue possible, and haven’t managed to make any progress. The moped was originally purchased in a state that didn’t require titles or registration, so there is no title. DC DMV has refused to register without a legal title, but won’t issue a replacement title without proof of registration in another state. Four separate visits to the inspection station and DMV with all manner of documentation (bills of sale, notarized affidavits) have yielded no results.

  • I agree with your point and would probably do the same, but just because you have a personal justification does not make it right. You cannot just abide by the laws that make the most sense.

  • I’m a DC police officer. That being said, yes, you must register your vespa.

    If it is over 50CCs OR (AND A BIG OR HERE) it can travel more than 30mph regardless of size, DC law considers it to be a motorcycle. You need a motorcycle endorsement on your license, to have it registered, display plates, wear a helmet, and have insurance. People are arrested regularly for operating an unregistered vehicle because they didn’t bother to register their Vespa.

    Helpful Guide Below:

  • saf

    Register it.

    However, motorcycles are no longer required to be inspected, so I expected scooters do not require inspections either.

  • I want a scooter, just like that in my garage….

  • I had an officer ask me about not displaying my tag and I told him that had been stolen once before and was accepting of this explanation. I adhered magnets to the back and would display them when I was driving around, but if I parked it for any extended period would remove it.

    On a side note. That is a nice looking 2007 Portofino Green Vespa 150LX.

  • I had a moped and never had it registered, it was 70cc. I was pulled over before and given warnings but never asked for my registration. I think you can get by without it.

  • brookland_rez

    You might get away with it for a while, but if you have a DC license and ever get stopped, you’re gonna get a big fine. Also, make sure you get the motorcycle endorsement. It is required even for a scooter and you might just learn something that could save your life. And they will really get you if you get stopped and don’t have the endorsement.

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