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Q

Is insurance required for a moped (Yamaha Zuma - 49cc) in the state of South Dakota?


A

Yes, South Dakota Law requires that any person who licenses and/or operates a motor vehicle must show proof of financial responsibility. Most people comply through the purchase of motor vehicle insurance. A moped is a type of motor vehicle so its owner, you, would be required to obtain insurance for it.

South Dakota Motor Law (Chapter 32-03) defines both motorcycles and mopeds. According to SD law the motorcycle category includes: motorcycles, motorbikes, mopeds (51cc or larger), bicycles with a motor attached and all motor operated vehicles of the bicycle or tricycle type or a platform on which the driver stands.

A moped (50cc or smaller) is defined as a motor driven cycle equipped with two or three wheels. If a combustion engine is used, the maximum piston or rotor displacement shall be 50cc, regardless of the number of chambers in such power source. The power source shall be equipped with a power drive system that functions directly or automatically only, not requiring clutching or shifting by the operator after the drive system is engaged.

The SD Motor Vehicles Division of the Department of Revenue and Regulation states that an Application for Motor Vehicle Title and Registration may be completed and filed in the county of the applicant's residence for a moped of 50cc or less. The application must be signed by the record owner(s) or by an authorized agent for the record owner(s). If the application is signed by an authorized agent, a power of attorney document must be attached to verify the appointment. Proof of sales tax paid is required if a moped is titled and licensed.

Though the SD MVD gives information on how to title and register a moped we found other information stating that motorcycles officially classified as mopeds are exempt from registration and title requirements. So it would appear that you can register and title your moped if you want but it is not required. 32-3-2.3 of the SD motor vehicle law states that mopeds shall be exempt unless an applicant wishes to obtain title to a moped. You should check with the SD MVD to make certain this is still correct and that laws have not changed.

As you are likely aware Section 32-20-2 of the South Dakota Statutes notes that when operating on the public streets or highways, drivers operating a vehicle officially classified as a moped are not required to have a special motorcycle driver license or endorsement, but must have a valid South Dakota car / truck (Class 1) driver license.

A South Dakota Sheriff's office was kind enough to list a lot of the regulations that SD has regarding the use of a moped. For instanced they note that mopeds must be equipped properly for roadway use, and must meet requirements such as lighting, exhaust, and mirrors. Due to obvious limitations, mopeds are not suited for high speed highway use, and are prohibited from operation on major highways and interstate highways. Mopeds cannot be operated on sidewalks.

It is also noted that SD law (32-20-4) states that no person under 18 years of age may operate or ride upon a moped on the public streets or highways of this state unless the person wears a protective helmet.

And no person may operate a moped with any person under the age of 18 as a passenger if the passenger is not wearing a protective helmet. 32-20-4.1 goes on to note that no person may operate a moped unless he is wearing an eye protective device or unless the moped is equipped with a windscreen of sufficient height and design so as to provide adequate eye protection to the operator when seated in the normal operating position.

Other regulations for South Dakota moped drivers include:

  • The operator of a moped can ride only while sitting astride the seat facing forward.
  • No operator may carry any package, or other article that prevents him or her from keeping both hands on the handlebars or obstructs their vision.
  • No passenger can ride in a position that might interfere with the safe operation of the moped or obstruct the view of the operator.
  • The operator of a moped must change lanes when passing any vehicle in the same lane.
  • No person shall operate a moped between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lanes or rows of vehicles.
  • Mopeds cannot be operated more than two abreast in any single lane.
  • No person shall operate a moped in any municipal, county, state park or recreation area except upon the normally traveled roads or in specifically designated areas.
  • No person riding upon a moped shall attach themselves or the moped to any other moving vehicle on a street or roadway.
  • No person shall operate or ride on any moped with any firearm in their possession unless the firearm is completely unloaded and within a carrying case which encloses the entire firearm. (Law enforcement and concealed pistol permit holders are exempt.)

The SD Sheriff's office comments that all basic rules of the road must be followed when operating on public roadways (speed limits, traffic signs, safe driving, etc.) Failing to meet the required specifications or operating your moped in an unlawful manner can result in fines and/or loss of driving privileges. And it may be helpful to know that from the best of our knowledge and from what research we have done licensing and operating laws do not apply to mopeds when being operated on private property. You may want to double check this information with the SD MVD or your local police station.

Back to the issue of insurance, South Dakota law states that all motor vehicles, so this would include mopeds of any cc level, be insured or otherwise have some form of financial responsibility on it.

Section 32-35-113 of SD statutes says that every driver or owner of a motor vehicle driven on public roadways shall at all times maintain in force a form of financial responsibility, i.e., liability insurance. In fact Senate Bill 213 from 2007 passed the legislature. It was an act to specify in SD statutes 32-35-113, 114 and 116 that a driver or owner of a moped used on a public highway must maintain a form of financial responsibility on the moped.

A proof of liability insurance card must be carried on the moped at all times according to the several sources we contacted. The minimum requirements for SD motorist are:

Bodily Injury Liability: $25,000/$50,000 Limit
Property Damage Liability: $25,000 Limit
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury: $25,000/$50,000 Limit


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