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Statistics may encourage classifying mopeds as motor vehicles

South Carolina residents that own mopeds may have seen a previous post about loopholes in state DUI laws. It seems to be a well-known fact that drivers of mopeds are exempt from drunk driving charges because they are not qualified as a motorized vehicle. Although the bill to change this classification has been rejected once in South Carolina, recent statistics may give the current bill a higher probability of passing.

The popularity of mopeds is on a speedy incline in South Carolina. The number of licenses issued for mopeds has doubled in the last five years. Many may be asking why but to the current owners say that answer is easy -- it's a money saver. Mopeds get much better gas mileage at 100 to 120 miles per gallon. In addition, those that have lost their license to drive a passenger vehicle for any reason, including DUI, can drive a moped.

However, as the popularity of mopeds increases, so does the number of deaths caused by accidents involving these small vehicles. From 2011 to 2012 fatalities in accidents involving mopeds rose by 54 percent. In addition, according to the South Carolina Department of Highway Safety, over 600 riders of mopeds are injured every year in the state.

Although the previous post stated that there has been some concern about whether the moped bill that currently sits in the South Carolina General Assembly will receive the same lack of enthusiasm from representatives as it did the last time around, the above-stated statistics may give the bill a better chance of passing on this second attempt.

If the bill does pass and mopeds become classified as moving motor vehicles, the same laws and resulting penalties would apply to them in the case of drunk driving as currently applies to other motorized vehicles. This means that someone driving a moped while under the influence of alcohol could be charged with a crime and face penalties and monetary fines.

It is always important for drivers to know their rights. Those residents that ride mopeds need to stay aware of these changes and understand how their rights could be affected.

Source: The Island Packet, "Increase in SC moped fatalities prompts new focus on safety," Allison Stice, Feb. 20. 2013

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