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Is it legal for electric wheelchairs to be driven on major roads in Wilmington?

Ken Little
StarNews

Q. Is it legal for electric wheelchairs to be driven on major roads in Wilmington? You see them constantly on Carolina Beach Road.

A. According to N.C. General Statutes Section 20-175.6 regarding “Electric personal assistive mobility devices,” such devices “may be operated on public highways with posted speeds of 25 miles per hours or less” along with sidewalks and bicycle paths.

“A person operating an electric personal assistive mobility device on a sidewalk, roadway or bicycle path shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrian and other human-powered devices,” the statute states.

Anyone operating electric mobility devices “shall have all (the) rights and duties of a pedestrian,” the state statute says.

It gives municipalities having jurisdiction over public streets the right to pass an ordinance regulating “the time, place and manner of the operation of electric personal assistive mobility devices, but shall not prohibit their use.”

City of Wilmington Ordinance 5-1 defines pedestrians “to include handicapped individuals in wheelchairs.”

There doesn’t appear to be anything as specific regarding electric wheelchairs in city ordinances as in the state statutes.

“The Wilmington Police Department will enforce all traffic ordinances as written,” Assistant City Attorney Meredith T. Everhart said in an email response to questions on the topic.

To review N.C. General Statutes on the state Legislature website, go to www.ncleg.net.

A link to City of Wilmington Ordinances can be found on the city website, www.wilmingtonnc.gov.

The Wilmington Police Department can be reached at (910) 343-3600.

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