Politics & Government

SC moped drivers face new restrictions, including helmets

Moped rules and safety tips

Mopeds are on the rise in Columbia as parking diminishes. Here are a few tips to keep you riding.
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Mopeds are on the rise in Columbia as parking diminishes. Here are a few tips to keep you riding.

S.C. moped drivers soon will be required to register with the Department of Motor Vehicles and, for those under 21 years old, wear a helmet.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster Friday signed into law a years-in-the-making moped bill that also gives police the authority to charge drunken moped drivers with driving under the influence.

“It’s clearly the first positive step in dealing with a disastrous law,” state Motor Vehicles director Kevin Shwedo said.

The new law – aimed at curbing South Carolina’s rising moped death toll – will go into effect in November 2018.

Owners will not be able to register their mopeds with the Motor Vehicles department until then, Shwedo said. The delay is because Motor Vehicles already has its hands full issuing new Real I.D.-compliant driver’s licenses. The agency’s computer programmers also need the additional time to develop moped registration software.

The new law will not require moped drivers to wear reflective vests at night, as lawmakers previously had proposed.

“The vests were important, but we had to compromise,” said state Rep. Bill Crosby, R-Charleston, the bill’s primary sponsor. “We’ll work on that later.”

It also will not require moped drivers to carry insurance, another proposal that died in the Legislature.

Nor will it require a skills-based test to get a moped permit. “It’s the only vehicle license on the highway that requires no skills test,” Shwedo said.

Under the new law, S.C. residents who lose their driver’s licenses for drunken driving still could get moped permits. But they now could lose that permit after further alcohol offenses.

“I’m sure the law enforcement people are going to be tickled pink over it,” Crosby said. “They’ve wanted this for a long time.”

Avery G. Wilks: 803-771-8362, @averygwilks