Risking fines, thousands of moped owners flout new requirements

Updated: Aug. 24, 2017 at 9:37 PM HST
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( Image: Hawaii News Now )
( Image: Hawaii News Now )

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Back in January, the city started mailing out thousands of letters to the owners of Oahu's mopeds, reminding them that they needed to renew their registrations.

So far, the response to those letters has been abysmal.

Through the first seven months of 2017, city officials say more than 23,000 registration notifications were sent to owners, but only 1,800 of them actually renewed – a paltry 8 percent.

George Burmeister, the owner of a local moped shop, says nearly all of the customers and moped owners he has asked about the letters say they are ignoring the law on purpose.

"A lot of people are saying, 'I'm going to wait and see until next year,' because there is a chance that this is a whole complete failure and falls on its face," he said.

The city's Department of Customer Services director, Sheri Kajiwara, believes that's the wrong attitude, saying there is only a 45-day grace period after a notification letter is sent.

"If you are stopped for another violation, the police could ticket you for not having your moped registered when it should have been in that proper month," she said.

The fine is up to $100.

Stafford Montgomery says his PowerSports business averages 10 safety checks of mopeds per day. Because owners need a safety check to register their mopeds, he's confused by the low return on renewals.

"I think a lot of it has to do with getting their mopeds back in legal standards," he said. "Some of them are scrambling to put their stock pipes back on, to get them to meet the requirements."

Some mopeds on the city's records are no longer on the road, accounting for a portion of the low total of registrations.

"Sad to say, many mopeds have been stolen," Burmeister said. "Theft is a big problem, which we thought this safety check thing would cure."

Mopeds that are registered are easy to spot. They have yellow license plates. But those are greatly outnumbered by mopeds still bearing the old decals, another sign that moped owners aren't rushing to renew their registrations.

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