On July 1, 1967 South Carolina began enforcing a federal government coerced mandatory helmet law for any person “operating or riding upon a two-wheeled motorized vehicle” punishable with a fine of not more than $100 and/or not more than 30 days in jail. Although motorized bicycles and other similar vehicles met the definition of a “two-wheeled motorized vehicle” the law was enforced only against motorcycle operators and passengers.
After several years of petitioning “the Government for a redress of grievances” on June 16, 1980 the helmet law was amended by adding the words “under the age of twenty-one” thus recognizing the principle of adult responsibility. In South Carolina adult motorcycle operators and passengers are no longer threatened with arrest, incarceration, and/or fine when wearing or not wearing head gear they deem appropriate.
Recognizing the principle of age of adult responsibility is not unprecedented and in fact well known in South Carolina. Recognized ages of responsibility include; Tobacco 18, Alcohol 21, South Carolina Governor 30, South Carolina Senate 25, South Carolina House 21, United States President 35, United States Senate 30, United States House 25, Law Enforcement 21, Military Service 18 (17 with parental permission), and many more examples too numerous to list.
It is the position of ABATE of South Carolina that the long held principle of adult responsibility must continue in all areas, including helmet laws, if we are to remain a free people, state, and nation.
DUM SPIRO SPERO
While I breathe I hope
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Senate bill 456 would allow person with a permit to three attempts to pass the Department of Motor Vehicle skills test. If they cannot pass the skills test after that they will be required to take an approved motorcycle rider course. This bill would also allow motorcyclists to take a motorcycle safety course to reduce four points from their license. This bill has passed the Senate and the House. It is now awaiting Governor Henry McMasters Signature.
Senate Transportation Committee chairman Larry Grooms introduced this bill back on February 22, 2017. This bill passed the Senate with 39 yeas and 0 nays on March 8, 2017. It has recently passed the House with 106 yeas and 0 nays on January 10, 2018. The Department of Motor Vehicles has been working on a way to stop the reissuing of motorcycle permits and get all motorcyclists licensed. The DMV could just refuse to continue to reissue a permit if they felt a person does not show the aptitude to operate a motorcycle under current law. After working with the Department of Motor Vehicles and looking at what other states have done. The idea came up to allow three attempts and if the person still cannot complete the skills test, then the person with a motorcycle permit would have to take a motorcycle safety class. The motorcycle safety classes in South Carolina currently allow a person to get an M license with a successful completion of the motorcycle safety class because the Department of Motor Vehicles has certified these instructors as third party testers. As January 16, 2018 there were 198,577 class M operators and 12,973 class M permits issued for those over the age of seventeen. This high percentage is nearly six times higher than what the DMV sees with Class D license, which is what this bill was written to change.
The first part of this bill amends Section 56-1-50 with a new section to read:
A person who holds a motorcycle beginner's permit who has failed the motorcycle driver's license test three or more times must successfully complete a South Carolina Technical College motorcycle safety course, or its equivalent, in lieu of passing the motorcycle driver's license test, in order to obtain a motorcycle license. All courses must be at least eight hours in length and be taught by an instructor accredited through a training program in which the procedures for accreditation are equivalent to those set forth in 'Manual of Rules and Procedures' published by the National Safety Council. All courses must include successful completion of an examination equivalent to the Department of Motor Vehicles motorcycle skills test. These programs are subject to Section 56-1-15.
The DMV also worked with ABATE to come up with an addition to current law that would allow a person with a class M endorsement to take the motorcycle safety class to reduce four points off their driving record just like it is currently allowed for automobile drivers.
The second part of this bill amends Section 56-1-770 with a new section to read:
Any driver with a Class M (motorcycle) endorsement who has accumulated points under the provisions of this article shall have the number of his points reduced by four upon proving to the satisfaction of the Department of Motor Vehicles that he has successfully completed a South Carolina Technical College motorcycle safety course or its equivalent. All courses offered for point reduction must be at least eight hours in length and be taught by an instructor accredited through a training program in which the procedures for accreditation are equivalent to those set forth in 'Manual of Rules and Procedures' published by the National Safety Council