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Michigan Moped Laws: What You Need To Know

September 8, 2020 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan Moped Laws: What You Need To Know

Michigan moped laws have specific licensing, registration and insurance requirements that riders need to know about. Riders also need to know the rules of the road to safely operate a moped so they can avoid accidents with cars or pedestrians and what their legal rights are if they are involved in an accident with a car and suffer injury. Finally, riders need to know the state age and helmet requirements to legally operate this type of vehicle.

What is considered a moped in Michigan?

According to Michigan moped laws, a moped is a 2- or 3-wheeled vehicle. Its motor does not exceed 100 cubic centimeters piston displacement. Its top speed on a level surface is 30 mph. And its power drive system does not require the operator to shift gears.

Do you need a license to drive a moped in Michigan?

As indicated in the Michigan moped laws, you do not need a license to drive one in this state if you have a valid driver’s license. If you do not have a driver’s license then you will need to obtain a “a special restricted license” to operate this vehicle from the Michigan Secretary of State.

You must be at least 15 years old to legally operate this vehicle in Michigan. No road test is required.

Rules to safely operate a moped on Michigan streets

As stated in the Michigan moped laws, here are the rules to safely operate this type of vehicle on the road:

  1. It must have at least one head lamp mounted between 54 inches and 24 inches above the ground that can illuminate people and vehicles at least 100 feet ahead. (MCL 257.685(2) and (4); 257.702(1))
  2. It must have at least two brakes – one on the front wheel and one on the back wheel – that can be operated by hand or foot. (MCL 257.705(1)(b))
  3. It must have a horn that can be heard under normal conditions from a distance of not less than 200 feet. (MCL 257.706(a))
  4. It must have at least 1 rear lamp that emits a red light which can be seen from 500 feet behind. (MCL 257.686(1))
  5. It must have one rear stop lamp that emits a red or amber light when the brakes are applied and can be seen from 100 feet behind. (MCL 257.697(a)(1) and (b); 257.697b)
  6. It must have a tail lamp or separate lamp that casts a white light on its registration decal that makes it clearly legible from 50 feet to the rear. (MCL 257.686(2))
  7. It must have a muffler. (MCL 257.707(1))
  8. It must have a rearview mirror. (MCL 257.708)
  9. It must have a permanent and regular seat that is attached to the vehicle. (MCL 257.658(1))
  10. The handlebars must be no higher than 30 inches from the lowest point of the undepressed saddle to the highest point of the handle grip of the operator. (MCL 257.661a)
  11. An operator must keep both hands on the handlebars. (MCL 257.661)
  12. A moped and a low-speed vehicle shall have permanently affixed to their frame a manufacturer’s identification number. (MCL 257.217b)
  13. A person propelling a bicycle or operating a motorcycle or moped shall not ride other than upon and astride a permanent and regular seat attached to that vehicle. 257.658(1)
  14. A person less than 19 years of age operating a moped on a public thoroughfare shall wear a crash helmet on his or her head. 257.658(4)
  15. A person operating the vehicle shall not pass between lines of traffic. (MCL 257.660(4))
  16. The vehicle shall not be operated on a sidewalk designed and constructed for pedestrians. (MCL 257.660(6))

Do Michigan traffic laws apply to mopeds?

Yes. Per the Michigan moped laws riders who drive on roads have all the same legal rights as other drivers, but operators also have the same duties as drivers of other vehicles under the traffic laws set forth in the Vehicle Code. (MCL 257.657)

Can a moped carry more than one person?

The Michigan moped laws no longer prohibits this vehicle from carrying “more than 1 person at time.” Prior to 2013, the law stated that a “moped . . . shall not be used to carry more than 1 person at a time.” However, Public Act 589 of 2012, which took effect on March 28, 2013, amended MCL 257.658(3) to eliminate the prohibition as applied to these vehicle.

How to get a moped license in Michigan

Per the Michigan moped laws, to get a license, you must be 15 or older. The Secretary of State must be satisfied that you can operate this vehicle safely. You must pass vision, knowledge and traffic signs tests, but no road test is required. You cannot obtain a moped license if you already have a valid driver’s license.

How to register a moped in Michigan

According to Michigan moped laws, because this vehicle is considered a motor vehicle under the state’s Vehicle Code, it must be registered with the Secretary of State. Your moped registration is valid for three years. A registration decal must be displayed on the rear of your moped so it is visible to law enforcement. There is a $15 fee.

If you purchase your moped from a retailer, then the retailer will obtain registration. Otherwise, you will apply for and obtain your registration from the Secretary of State. The certificate of registration issued to you by the Secretary of State includes a “decal for the vehicle.” (MCL 257.801e(1) and (2))

Do you need insurance for a moped in Michigan?

You are not required to have insurance for a moped. According to Michigan moped laws, because this vehicle is not considered to be a “motor vehicle” for purposes of Michigan’s auto No-Fault insurance law, insurance to cover medical bills, lost wages and liability in the event of an accident is not mandatory.

As the Michigan Vehicle Code states: “A moped shall not be required to be insured in the manner specified for motor vehicles under chapter 31 of Act No. 218 of the Public Acts of 1956, as amended, being sections 500.3101 to 500.3179 of the Michigan Compiled Laws.” (MCL 257.801e(1))

However, the fact that you are not required to obtain specific insurance under the Michigan moped laws for this type of vehicle does not mean that you may not need it – especially if you are hit and injured by a car or truck while riding/operating one. Because you are sharing the road with cars and trucks and there is a greater potential for serious injury, a moped owner should strongly consider purchasing moped insurance to provide coverage should a crash occur and tragedy strike. Coverages should include liability (if you hit a pedestrian, for example, this protects you for injuries you cause to the pedestrian), first-party medical benefits, wage loss reimbursement, collision, comprehensive and “uninsured motorist” and “underinsured motorist” coverage.

How old do you have to be to ride a moped in Michigan?

Per the Michigan moped laws you must be at least 15 years old to ride a moped. In order to ride this vehicle in Michigan, you must have a special restricted license to operate one (unless you already have a valid driver’s license). To obtain the special license, you must be 15 years of age or older.

Do mopeds have titles in Michigan?

According to Michigan moped laws, a certificate of title is not required in order to operate a one on the roadways. (MCL 257.216(1)(k)) Nor is a title required to register this vehicle or to obtain a moped license.

No-Fault benefits after a moped accident

If you were injured in a moped accident involving a motor vehicle such as a car or truck, then you will be entitled to recover benefits under Michigan’s auto No-Fault insurance law to pay for your medical bills and lost wages while you’re recovering from your injuries and trying to rebuild your life.

Your benefits will be paid either by your own auto insurance company or the auto insurance company for your spouse or for a family member who lives with you. If no coverage is available through any of those sources, then you will apply for No-Fault benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.

Do the Michigan moped laws state anything about suing for injuries after an accident

Per Michigan moped laws, if you were an operator injured in am accident involving a motor vehicle, you can file a lawsuit and sue the at-fault driver for your pain and suffering compensation for your injuries, and under the No-Fault Act for “excess” wage loss benefits and “excess” medical benefits. These excess wage and medical claims would be your accident-related medical bills and wage loss that exceed the PIP No-Fault coverage limit, assuming your insurance policy covers your moped (you must confirm, in writing, that your auto insurance policy also covers your moped with your insurance agent).

When souped-up mopeds become motorcycles

If you soup-up your moped to make it run faster like a hot rod, you take on additional legal risk. Transforming this vehicle into a motorcycle will also expose yourself to the increased legal risk that comes along with this faster and more dangerous form of transportation.

As for the Michigan moped laws, any modification that increases your moped’s motor size beyond 100cc’s or allows it to reach speeds above 30 mph or requires you to shift gears will have the effect of transforming it into a motorcycle.

This is significant because according to the Michigan moped laws these vehicles and motorcycles have different legal requirements for insurance (MCL 500.3103), licensing (MCL 257.312a(1) and 257.312b), helmet usage (MCL 257.658(5)) and title (ownership) (MCL 257.216(1)(k)).

But as an injury lawyer who has helped riders that have been seriously injured in crashes with cars and trucks, the most dangerous consequence of transforming this vehicle into a motorcycle is what happens if you get injured in an accident, such as one involving another motor vehicle.

As I explained in my previous blog post, “Speeding may cost moped enthusiasts their rights to Michigan No-Fault benefits,” you will likely find yourself being disqualified from recovering No-Fault insurance benefits and also being barred from suing for pain and suffering for your injuries and losses because at the time of the car accident you were no longer riding a moped that requires no specific moped insurance.

Instead, as a result of your modifications, you were riding an uninsured motorcycle that under state law should have been insured. Under Michigan moped laws, the penalties for not having insurance are the most severe in the nation. They include being disqualified from No-Fault insurance benefits and even being prohibited from filing an injury lawsuit and suing the at-fault driver for compensation for your pain and suffering who caused your accident!

Need help? Call the attorneys at Michigan Auto Law

If you were injured in a moped accident and have questions on your legal rights, injuries and losses, you can speak to an experienced attorney, toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation. You can also get help from an experienced attorney by emailing [email protected] or you can use the chat feature on our website.

Michigan Moped Laws: What You Need To Know

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