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KRQE News 13 – Three-wheeled car ties NM law in knots

Three-wheeled car ties NM law in knots


SANTA FE (KRQE) – When visitors got their first look at the Elio at Balloon Fiesta this year, few probably realized the strange conundrum the three-wheeled wonder creates here in New Mexico.

It all has to do with the state’s distinction between a motorcycle and a car. The former requires riders to get a special license and, if they’re under the age of 18, wear helmets.

The Elio has a lot in common with a car. It’s got seat belts, airbags and is enclosed. But it also has one thing that would make it a motorcycle under state law… just three wheels.

“State law specifically states that a vehicle has to have four wheels, no less than four wheels,” said Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe in a phone interview.

That means any minor riding in an Elio would have to wear a helmet, despite its airbags.

Trujillo says that makes no sense. He’s introduced HB 65, legislation that carves out a section in law for the Elio, classifying them as autocycles and treating them similarly to cars under state law. In order for a three-wheeler to be an autocycle, it would have to meet certain safety standards, like having airbags, anti-lock brakes and a roll cage.

Currently 33 states have laws that would keep kids from having to wear helmets while riding in an Elio or other cars like it.

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