South Carolina’s state Senate on Thursday passed a proposal that would charge drunken moped drivers with DUI.
“If they’re drunk driving on a moped under this bill they would be subject to arrest or DUI,” said Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Horry, who sponsored the bill.
Current state law does not treat mopeds as vehicles, meaning drivers are not violating state DUI laws when they operate while intoxicated. Moped drivers are also able to continue using mopeds after their driver’s license is suspended for DUI.
Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, said the law needs to be changed. “Strange quirks in South Carolina law: you can be on a moped stinking drunk, wave your beer at the highway patrolmen and he can’t write you a ticket,” Grooms said on the Senate floor.
A similar bill was held up by a handful of Democrats last year — before ultimately being vetoed by Gov. Nikki Haley — calling its requirements that moped drivers wear reflective vests at night “government overreach.”
To avoid similar holdups this session, senators removed the reflective vest requirement. “Let’s get the drunken drivers that are on the mopeds off the roads,” Grooms said. “Let’s deal with that.”
The proposed legislation also would raise the age to drive a moped from 14 to 15. It would also require moped drivers register with the Department of Motor Vehicles and follow the same traffic rules as other vehicles.
But it would not require moped drivers to carry insurance. Hembree said he wants to look at the insurance requirement separately.
The measure needs another vote before it heads to the House, likely next week.