Politics & Government

New SC rules could keep your rented golf cart, moped off the road

Drive a golf cart on the streets of South Carolina? Here is what you need to know

Do you drive a golf cart on the street in the Lowcountry? You could be breaking some South Carolina state laws and not even know it. Take a look at this quick video and make sure you're cruising legally.
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Do you drive a golf cart on the street in the Lowcountry? You could be breaking some South Carolina state laws and not even know it. Take a look at this quick video and make sure you're cruising legally.

Nothing can ruin a summer drive in South Carolina quicker than getting stuck behind a tourist on a golf cart.

It’s annoying for the driver and can be dangerous for passengers in the smaller, slow-moving carts.

There’s little South Carolina’s coastal communities can do about it now. But state Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Horry, is trying to give local governments more power to regulate short-term rentals of golf carts and mopeds.

“All of you understand how dangerous it is to put a golf cart on Kings Highway at suppertime,” Clemmons told a House panel Tuesday, referring to the main thoroughfare through Myrtle Beach. “But currently that’s completely legal in South Carolina, and it’s dangerous when you have people on vacation and don’t know the streets.”

The panel moved forward with Clemmons’ bill, which would allow cities and counties to adopt local rules on top of what state law says about operating the vehicles. Under the bill, local governments could mandate safety devices and establish roads and other areas where the rented vehicles can’t be driven.

If the rules are adopted, Clemmons says he hopes it means first-time drivers won’t “suddenly jump on Kings Highway and they put themselves and their families in danger.”

A similar bill sponsored by Clemmons passed the House last year, but after the Senate changed the bill to include regulations for flying drones, the House ran out of time to approve the altered bill before it died.

Now, the bill must go through the legislative process once again. The bill will next move to the full House Education and Public Works Committee.

The bill is targeted at businesses that offer rentals for less than nine months.

“It’s a different situation if a local resident rents it for a year, and that’s their only mode of transportation,” Clemmons said.

Vacation rental homes that come with a golf cart in the garage would be unaffected by the bill. Those carts would be regulated only by state law.

Clemmons just recommends keeping them off Kings Highway.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster signed a moped bill into law in May 2017. While the law won't go into effect until late 2018 due to backlog because of the Real-IDs, moped drivers should start brushing up on the new restrictions now.

Bristow Marchant is currently split between covering Richland County and the 2020 presidential race. He has more than 10 years’ experience covering South Carolina. He won the S.C. Press Association’s 2015 award for Best Series on a toxic Chester County landfill fire, and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.
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