Some South Carolina magistrates are throwing out drunken-driving cases because the drivers were on mopeds, which are exempt from SC motor-vehicle laws.
But Wednesday, a state Senate committee approved a bill that would reclassify mopeds as a motor vehicle in terms of enforcing drinking-and-driving laws only.
You don’t need a driver’s license to drive a moped in South Carolina, making it a popular choice for drunken-driving offenders with suspended licenses. In the Senate version of the bill, DUI offenders with suspended licenses still could drive mopeds. But they would no longer be exempt from state drunken-driving laws.
The bill, originally sponsored by state Reps. Eddie Tallon and Derham Cole, both Spartanburg Republicans, passed the SC House last year. That version of the proposal would have considered a moped to be a motor vehicle in all aspects of the law.
State law defines a moped as having a motor of less than 50-cubic centimeters and not capable of going faster than 30 miles per hour.
State troopers have had magistrates dismiss several DUI cases involving mopeds, said Col. Michael Oliver, commander of the state Highway Patrol.
Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, called that “a glitch in the law.”
“This will take care of that loophole,” he said.
Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, initially objected to the law because he said the state also exempts tractors and bicycles from drunken-driving laws.
“I don’t think you should operate a moped drunk,” he said. “But what are you going to do, suspend their license? You don’t need a license to drive a moped.”