Up to now, North Carolina has been one of a large number of states that do not require mopeds to be insured. That is about to change, if Governor Pat McCrory signs House Bill 148, which will require $30,000 worth of liability insurance for every moped driver.

This law is just the next step in a trend that began last year when the state began requiring mopeds to be registered.

Why is this of interest? Because mopeds are widely seen in North Carolina as “DWI Mobiles.” Citizens of the state who have been convicted of impaired driving and have had their license suspended often buy mopeds to get around.

Senator Stan Bingham (R-Davidson) disapproves of the measure. He has a different idea: help more drivers with DWIs get ignition interlocks. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

If more DWI offenders were given ignition interlocks, then they wouldn’t be on mopeds in the first place.  While interlocks are not free for the offender, they are considerably cheaper than moped insurance for a driver with a DWI.

Opponents of Senator Bingham note that a large proportion of moped accidents are due to alcohol. But this seems to be a good argument for ignition interlocks instead of mopeds. Interlock devices cannot be installed on mopeds. If the offender uses a vehicle with an interlock, then we are assured that he or she will not be using alcohol behind the wheel. The same cannot be said of a moped.

It’s anyone’s guess if the governor will sign HB148. However, the option of an ignition interlock does seem like the best choice for a driver who wants to deal with an alcohol problem while avoiding the temptation to drive drunk. We hope Governor McCrory considers the whole picture and encourages the legislature to widen the scope of North Carolina’s interlock laws. That would be best for everyone in the state.

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