If you want to find out which way the wind is blowing in Raleigh at the General Assembly, one indicator is WRAL – at least when it comes to new criminal laws that might be in the offing. Last year, WRAL ran a series of reports – generally overblown and inaccurate – that claimed to shine a spotlight on the problem of repeat DWI offenders.
While it’s certainly the case that repeat DWI offenses can be a problem, the vast majority of DWI offenders only commit the crime once. Repeat DWI offenses are rare.
Now WRAL is highlighting the so-called problem of unlicensed drivers operating mopeds.
If you read the WRAL report, you’d probably never realize that driving a moped while impaired is a criminal offense – even if you were not licensed to drive the moped. Heck, even operating a bicycle is a criminal offense – a DWI – if appreciably impaired or a .08 or above at the time of operation.
Mopeds are currently the only motorized means by which a person can get around North Carolina after they’ve been convicted of two DWIs or if they can’t afford insurance associated with a DWI conviction. Mopeds are generally safe to other people – bystanders are rarely, if ever, injured from a drunk operating a moped while impaired. If impaired on a moped or a bicycle, the person is much more likely to injure himself than to injure anyone else.
Given North Carolina’s generally poor public transportation system – even in the Raleigh area – mopeds can be the only method of transportation.