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Three basic rules defined by the DMV are required to put a vehicle in the "moped or scooter" category, they are:
-Must have an engine displacement of 50cc or less.
-Must have fully automatic transmission. The rider must not have the ability to manually shift gears.
-Top speed is limited to a maximum of 30 mph on a level surface.

If ANY of these three criteria do not exist, the vehicle is classified as a motorcycle and requires the full gamut of laws associated with such to include:
-Valid Drivers License with a class "M" endorsement.
-Formal registration with the NCDMV and display of a license plate.
-Liability insurance.
-State mandated safety inspection.

There are plenty of scooters out there outside of these laws and subject the rider to a whole host of tickets and fines. The police don't pay any attention and don't seem to care. If you are ever involved in an accident with one of these, force the officer to verify the scooter is not over 50cc's. It's normally stamped on the engine cases. Best to take a picture if possible. He/she could be in full vioation of applicable DMV law.

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