JUSTICE QUESTIONS MOTIVES OF CITY’S BIKE LAW
By Adam Fogle
The debate over the constitutionality of a Myrtle Beach motorcycle helmet law headed to the South Carolina supreme Court on Wednesday.
The city of Myrtle Beach legal counsel and attorneys for a group of motorcyclists cited under the ordinance presented oral arguments before the five members of the state’s high court.
In 2008, in an effort to push annual motorcycle rallies outside of the city, Myrtle Beach officials enacted a law requiring riders to wear a helmet in the city. But state law mandates that only those under 21 must wear head gear — everyone is free to ride without a helmet.
Tom McGrath of the Motorcycle Law Group, who is representing nearly 50 people ticketed for helmet infractions, and his fellow attorneys argued that the law that violated the state constitution.
“This is bigger than the helmet laws,” said State Rep. Thad Viers, who is representing his brother in one of the cases. “This is what a local government can do and whether a local government can make a law stronger and more stringent than a state law.”
Justice Don Beatty questioned the motives of the law.
“I realize the issue is narrow here, but don’t pretend like we don’t know what’s going on,” Beatty said to Myrtle Beach attorney Mike Battle. “We read. We all know why the city [passed the rally ordinances].”
The justices won’t likely rule in the case for at least a few more months.
Signs posted on Highway 17 warning motorcyclists to wear a helmet in Myrtle Beach April 28, 2009 (AP Photo)