SC high court judge questions motives of MB helmet law - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

SC high court judge questions motives of MB helmet law

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Myrtle Beach helmet law debate traveled to the South Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday as the state's high court heard oral arguments from both sides regarding the ordinance that went into effect in February 2008.

Attorney Thomas McGrath, who is representing 49 different clients suing the city of Myrtle Beach, says the new ordinance violates the state law. In the State of South Carolina, people under the age of 21 are required to wear a helmet, but those over the age of 21 are not. McGrath contends the City of Myrtle Beach cannot go against the state's uniform traffic codes. 

The SC Supreme Court will not make a final ruling on the case for an estimated six weeks. Click here to read the complaint.

McGrath's lawsuit was also heard in conjunction with another from Business Owners Organized to Save Tourism (BOOST) & Viers v. the City of Myrtle Beach. State Rep. Thad Viers, who represents his own brother Bart in the case, says this lawsuit is about more than helmets.

"This is bigger than the helmet laws," said Viers. "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."

 Viers says while there is no way to predict the outcome, he's confident the law is on his side.

"There's certain things cities can do, and making up their own traffic laws is not one of them," Viers (R-Myrtle Beach) said. "I believe the law and the constitution are on our side."

A spokesman for the city of Myrtle Beach declined to comment on the pending litigation. However, in court documents provided by the city, six key points were outlined as their central argument. The city argued that the helmet law complies with the state constitution, that they had the right to adopt the law under the "uniform traffic code," and the ordinance also does not conflict with this code.

However,the chief justice in the case questioned Myrtle Beach's attorney, Mike Battle, on whether or not the law was created to remove bikers and the rallies or to promote safe practices while traveling on motorcycles.

Each side had 15 minutes to argue their points before the State Supreme Court.

Viers, of Coastal Law LLC in Myrtle Beach, as well as J. Todd Kincannon of Barnes Alford Stork & Johnson in Columbia, represented BOOST an Bart Viers. Michael W. Battle of Battle, Vaught & Howe of Conway, and Thomas Ellenburg, of Myrtle Beach, represented the City of Myrtle Beach in the dispute.

The city enacted the helmet law in 2008, requiring DOT-approved helmets for all riders in city limits. Under South Carolina law, anyone over the age of 21 is not required to wear a helmet.

 


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