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In South Carolina, drinking and driving a moped up for debate

Oftentimes in the Charleston area, those who have had a couple of drinks chose not to drive their cars. Instead, they get in a car with another driver, take public transportation or a cab, or perhaps walk or hop on their bicycle or moped.

That last option could soon be off the table. Currently, it is not illegal to drive a moped in South Carolina after you have been drinking. Mopeds, which cannot go more than 30 mph, are not considered motor vehicles under the law and as such they are not allowed on Interstate highways and are exempt from DUI laws. However, legislators are currently debating whether to treat mopeds as motor vehicles under the law.

The South Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill last year to treat mopeds as motor vehicles in all circumstances, and a similar bill was approved by a state senate committee earlier this month. The full senate is expected to vote on the bill soon.

Critics are worried that if such a bill is to be passed into law, slow-moving mopeds would be allowed on highways. Additionally, some argue that mopeds are a decent mode of transportation for those who have been drinking. Combining a moped with heavy drinking may certainly put the driver in some amount of danger, but it is unlikely that a drunk moped driver could be a hazard to others, some say.

In 2010, more than 10 states had passed or were working on legislation regarding moped safety. However, most of the legislation was related to basic transportation safety-such as licensing and helmets.

What do Charleston readers think? Should mopeds be exempt from DUI laws or not?

Source: WJBF-TV, "South Carolina State Senators Move Close to Moped DUI Loophole," Randy Key and Robert Kittle, Feb. 16, 2012

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