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SC senator on why insurance isn't required for mopeds, says it could come soon

by Simon Williams  |  

Friday, June 18th 2021

LONGS, S.C. (WPDE) — After a couple of days of reaching out to South Carolina lawmakers, we have a much clearer picture Friday of the path to require insurance for moped drivers in South Carolina.

On Wednesday, Henry Walser shared his nightmare of a situation after a moped pulled out in front of him. A police report shows that Walser had no fault in the accident, but he's still facing more than $200,000 in medical bills because moped drivers are not required to carry insurance in the Palmetto State.

The most recent set of moped laws went into effect in 2018, and the laws required mopeds to follow all the same road laws as any other motor vehicle, with even stricter restrictions like not going over 25 mph, and not driving on a road with a speed limit higher than 55 mph.

When it comes to insurance, though, a provision to require it didn't make the cut.

Sen. Greg Hembree (R-Horry) said there was a push for it, but after a long discussion, both sides made compromises and that was one of them.

"The opponents were basically saying these people on mopeds are typically low-income, or you know, there's a reason they're on a moped, and a lot of the times it's a financial reason," he said, stating they argued it singles out drivers who might not be able to afford insurance.

One provision that did make the final cut, though, affected Walser's case specifically.

"One thing that we were able to do when we passed that initial moped regulation, was make mopeds subject to someone's uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage," Sen. Hembree said.

The senator said that will only cover a very small fraction of Walser's total cost, but said it would have been $0 before 2018.

In 2019, Sen. Hembree told us that he planned to revisit the issue and introduce a new bill requiring insurance for mopeds within the next couple of years.

He said Friday he's still working on that.

"We had a 5-year fight to get the mopeds regulated at all, and there was quite a bit of what I would call 'moped fatigue' at that point," he said. "If you do it too quickly, they're like 'Hey, we just did this. We have to work on other issues. It's not just the general assembly of mopeds."

He said it's probably been enough time now.

"You know, I think in the next year or two we'll see that introduced and there will be another push for it."

The 2018 laws said that a moped license can be revoked or suspended in the same way and for the same reason as motor vehicles.

South Carolina Highway Patrol's report shows the moped driver was not cited in the crash. We asked Trooper Brian Lee why not, and he directed us to fill out a form.

When we hear back, this article will be updated.

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