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Mopeds & the Rules of the Road


Mopeds are a popular and inexpensive method of transportation for many people in South Carolina. These small motorcycles can reach speeds of 50-60mph and are incredibly convenient for on-the-go travelers and commuters alike. However, like motorcycles, mopeds aren’t necessarily the safest transportation option. In the past, both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released startling statistics regarding mopeds. For example, the CDC claims that mopeds (along with motorcycle, scooters, and bicycles) are responsible for over 20% of the traumatic brain injuries (TBI) sustained by Americans each year.

New Laws in South Carolina

State lawmakers have become increasingly concerned about the safety of moped riders and pedestrians. Consequently, new laws – effective as of November 19, 2018 – have been enacted to combat the annual number of moped-related injuries.

Your daily moped adventures may be impacted by these new safety and registration laws:

  • Because mopeds are now classified as motor vehicles, they need to be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • All riders need to be at least with 15 years old and have a valid moped or driver’s license
  • Vehicles need to have a license plate
  • Owners will need to pay $10 to renew this license every two years
  • Drivers can be cited for traffic violations (including driving under the influence)
  • Moped operators need to stay in the far-right lane unless they’re making a left turn
  • Riders under the age of 21 need to wear a helmet
  • Mopeds that are stolen or involved in accidents can now be identified through the DMV

South Carolina District 28 Senator Greg Hembree explained to WMBF News that this law is intended to protect moped drivers: “Well, we’ve had in Horry County – but really all over the state – but particularly in Horry County, we’ve had a high number of fatalities over the years by moped operators. So obviously they are the most dangerous vehicle on the roads because of their speed, and if you get hit on a moped, you got no protection at all. That’s why there’s such a high fatality rate. And there’s a very, very high even if you’re not killed, frequently you have to be put in intensive care and there’s a very long-term lengthy recovery. So, at its core, the idea is to make it safer for the moped operator and make it safe for the traveling public – for everybody.” Senator Hembree’s next goal is to enact a law that requires mandatory liability insurance on all mopeds.

Registering in South Carolina

Unfortunately, many people are hesitating to register their mopeds. Last November, state officials reported that only 1,400 mopeds had been successfully and legally registered with the DMV. This is a far cry from the actual number of vehicles actively parading our streets. Lauren Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Department of Motor Vehicles, claims that riders are afraid of being held accountable for their negligent driving behaviors.

No matter your personal circumstances or anxieties, it’s critical that you follow the proper protocols if you intend to operate a moped in the future. In this case, following the law can keep you out of the emergency room and away from dangerous legal pitfalls. Because mopeds are officially considered motor vehicles, you can face serious administrative penalties for driving without a license.

You’ll need the following items to register your vehicle with the DMV:

  • $10
  • A completed application
  • Proof of vehicle ownership

Schedule a Consultation

Contact the Charleston personal injury attorneys at Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a moped. Our trial-tested attorneys represent injured pedestrians and rides who have been harmed by negligent drivers.

Call Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC at (843) 968-0886 if you require legal representation for an accident injury.

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