April 25, 2014

Senate debate continues over how to handle DUI and mopeds

Senate Transportation Committee Chair Larry Grooms agrees with Knotts on the bill

On the Senate calendar this week, a bill to make mopeds a motor vehicle in the law, so that someone convicted of DUI cannot drive mopeds.  Some lawmakers, like Sen. Jake Knotts (R-Lexington) call mopeds “DUI-cycles’ since the scooters are legal transportation for those who have lost their license to drive a car or motorcycle.

Senator Jake Knotts is steering the House bill  (H. 3163) through the Senate that would treat a moped like any vehicle that can be on a state or county road.

“They use an excuse that they are driving them to work. The ones I see pulling into a 7-11 or convenience store to buy a case a beer and use a bungee cord to strap it onto the back are not going to work and they don’t have a license because they violated traffic laws of South Carolina,” says Knotts.

The original bill would define the moped as a motor vehicle in order to keep DUI offenders off of the highways. Richland Senator John Scott is against designating mopeds to be treated like other highway vehicles, unless a driver drives one while drunk.  Scott has added an amendment to only address making it illegal to drive a moped while drunk.

“I would like it to expand it (DUI law) to include those who drive tractors on the road, lawnmowers on the road, any motor vehicle…as a means of moving around,” Scott told fellow lawmakers last week. “Because what’s going to happen is they’re going to move from riding mopeds to doing go-carts to doing something else.”

That is the wrong way to handle it, according to Knotts, “If they are suspended from operating a vehicle on the highways, they need to be suspended as their punishment. They should not be able to get around the law because they ride a moped.”

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Larry Grooms says he agrees that mopeds should have all the same rules apply to them as cars and trucks, including licensing and insurance.

The bill is still in full Senate debate. The Senate comes back to the Statehouse Tuesday, while the House takes one more week of furlough