South Carolina Finally Closes Moped DUI Legal Loophole
On Tuesday, March 31st, a Senate panel in South Carolina officially closed a legal loophole that allowed riders to operate a moped under the influence of alcohol in South Carolina, creating a new moped DUI legislation.
South Carolina’s moped laws allow these vehicle operators to get away with almost anything. The vehicles are slow, so they are not allowed on highways, but they can still travel many backroads. Moped drivers in the state also do not have to wear safety gear like helmets unless they are under the age of 16. And, even if you have committed serious DUI offenses in a car or truck and had your driver’s license revoked, you can still apply for and receive a moped license.
“A person can be literally falling drunk and be riding a moped down the road, which is terribly dangerous,” said Sen. Greg Hembree, R-North Myrtle Beach, after his Senate Transportation subcommittee passed the moped safety measure. “They can’t get arrested for (driving under the influence), so they can’t be charged with DUI, so they get sort of a free pass.”
The new measure redefines mopeds as motor vehicles, meaning they are subject to the same safety measures – including DUI checkpoints and arrests – as cars and motorcycles.
Other moped safety bills are under consideration, including requiring helmets and reflective vests for moped drivers, so they are more visible to other motorists.
The new moped DUI legislation could also help reduce South Carolina’s DUI problem. The state has one of the highest rates of drunk driving, and many legislators and law enforcement officers are working to reduce those numbers and make the state’s roads safer. This means that there are more DUI checkpoints than ever, and more police officers looking for minor traffic violations to stop drivers, and now moped users as well.
Moped DUI laws and safety have been under debate for years in South Carolina. In 2011, House Bill H. 3163 was filed but as of 2012, was still under revision and died in the House. The bill proposed similar anti-DUI changes to moped driving laws in the state.
According to safety data, in 2013, there were 335 alcohol-related driving fatalities, meaning a drunk driver was killed or caused a fatal DUI car accident. Of those, 38 were underage DUI fatal car accidents. While the number decreased from the previous year, the DUI rates in South Carolina started going up after hitting an all-time low in 2010.
This has caused a great deal of worry among law enforcement officers and legislators, who now focus on the DUI problem, which could mean innocent drivers get caught in the cross-fire.
The Strom Law Firm Fights for Your Rights If You Have Been Charged with DUI
If you face DUI charges, the severity of the penalty can depend on several factors, including:
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of your arrest – 0.08 is the legal limit,
- Whether this is your first DUI charge, or a subsequent DUI charge,
- Whether there were any injuries, and/or a fatality caused by a DUI accident.
The DUI defense attorneys at the Strom Law Firm keep up to date with changes in DUI legislation in South Carolina, including moped safety laws, and use that information to defend you in court. We offer a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case, so contact us today for help. 803.252.4800