Legislation that would make it a felony to buy, sell or install defective car air bags in South Carolina received key approval in the state Senate on Thursday.
State Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, said the bill cracks down on dishonest shops. “These folks are saying that I’ll get you a used air bag and they put a trash bag in the steering column where the air bag goes,” Martin said on the floor of the Senate Thursday.
Martin said unscrupulous repair shops order an approved air bag, submit an insurance claim and install a defective bag or even a trash bag as a replacement.
The bill penalizes someone who knowingly or intentionally imports, manufactures, sells or installs counterfeit air bags with jail time and fines. Those whose actions result in great bodily harm or death, would face increased penalties.
Those convicted of a first offense will only be charged with a misdemeanor and fined at the court’s discretion. Penalties can include imprisonment of up to a year for a first offense and a $5,000 maximum fine and up to five years in prison for a third offense or worse.
The legislation does not apply to junkyards that sell federally-approved air bags for replacements. “It’s aimed at those who knowingly and willfully are doing these things,” Martin said.