Loophole in South Carolina DUI law labels mopeds “drunk scooters”

Our Greensboro car accident attorneys are monitoring the actions of Pickens County Sen. Larry Martin (R-SC) as he works to close a loophole in the current DUI law that exempts moped drivers from being charged with drunken driving.

Pickens picked up the issue after learning that in South Carolina, drivers charged with their first DUI offense, whose licenses are suspended, can drive a moped without a license for up to six months. And the way the law is written, riding a moped while intoxicated is not against South Carolina law.
345733_dude_on_a_scooter.jpg
Pickens, the Columbus Free Times reports, held office when the original legislation was enacted. He told the paper that back then mopeds were more like motorized bicycles. Over time, mopeds have evolved. State law has not. Hence, the “drunk scooter” debate.

In North Carolina, law requires that moped drivers must be 16 or older, and they must wear a DOT-approved helmet. Operating a moped does not require a license, nor does a moped owner need to register, inspect or insure their wheels, the North Carolina Department of Transportation reports. As is the case in South Carolina, “mopeds” by state definition, “cannot have a motor of more than 50 cubic centimeters, an external shifting device or have the capability of exceeding 30 miles per hour”. Despite these limitations, in North Carolina mopeds are permitted to travel on highways and other public roadways.

With that said, USA Today reports that a vote on requiring moped licenses is up for debate in North Carolina this year. Currently, just 17 states require moped drivers to hold a license and in several states helmets are not required. There is also some variance between states when it comes to defining what, exactly, a moped is. In some states, a moped motor cannot exceed 50 cubic centimeters; in others, 150 cubic centimeters – a difference in maximum speed of about 40 miles per hour.

Regardless of how mopeds are defined or what the law dictates, moped.net offers a few tips to Carolina moped owners to help keep you safe on the road.
~ Avoid aggressive driving practices and drive defensively. In the event you need to get out of the way, take advantage of the fact that mopeds can cross from road to sidewalk.

~ Be easy to spot. Wear reflective or bright-colored clothing. Use lights.

~ Have eyes in the back of your head. Seriously. Watch your back.

~ Make sure your moped is in good working condition. Obey all traffic laws. Period.

~ Don’t drive drunk or impaired.

~ Wear a DOT-approved helmet. Use gloves and a riding jacket. Wear shoes (not sandals).

The Carolina car accident lawyers with Lee & Smith know that being involved in a serious or fatal motor vehicle accident, or losing a loved one to a fatal crash, can be devastating. We hope that if you are involved in a serious car accident from Asheville to Winston-Salem or anywhere else across the state, you will call us at 1-800-887-1965 or email our law offices to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.

Contact Information