Most everyone knows that driving a car while impaired illegal and dangerous. What many people may not know is that in South Carolina there is, effectively, a DUI moped “loophole”. This allows individuals to drive small mopeds while intoxicated without facing the same charges as someone driving a car, truck, or motorcycle.
Mopeds, while similar to motorcycles, are generally much less powerful, smaller, and are only able to drive at a relatively low rate of speed. Under South Carolina law, mopeds are specifically excluded from the definition of a motor vehicle, so someone driving a moped while intoxicated cannot legally be charged with a DUI.
The state law on DUI requires four elements be met for a DUI charge to hold:
- A person must be driving,
- a motor vehicle,
- under the influence of alcohol or other illegal drug, and
- the individual’s faculties to drive must be materially and appreciably impaired.
The law as it is written is that motor vehicle explicitly omits mopeds.
Moped drivers should recognize, however, that even being exempt from DUI laws does not exempt moped drivers from other traffic laws. For instance, moped drivers can still be found at fault for accidents that they cause whether or not they operate the moped under the influence of alcohol.
South Carolina Legislature Reviewing Options
The South Carolina legislature is aware of the moped loophole and is investigating possible solutions. The state Senate transportation subcommittee passed a measure in April 2015 that would seek to close the moped loophole. Some senators want to learn more information about the issue, such as how best to define a moped in the law to ensure that the law is effective. Definitions of a moped would likely involve determining appropriate engine size or displacement as well as weight.
Other bills in the legislature also seek to address vehicle safety. Some pieces of legislation recommend requiring that moped drivers wear reflective vests or use tail lights, or even operate only on certain parts of a public road (such as to the far right hand side of the road as opposed to Legislators are investigating options to ensure that the roads are as safe as possible, but do not otherwise hinder the use or sale of mopeds for residents who want to use them.
Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney for Help
Of course, in the event that you are facing DUI charges for driving under the influence in Greenville, it is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately. John Bateman at the Bateman Law Firm is experienced and skilled and is prepared to assist you with your case today.