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S.C. Court Overrules Myrtle Beach Helmet Law

Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Myrtle Beach Not Wanted poster II
The South Carolina Supreme Court shot down the city of Myrtle Beach's helmet law that was enacted as a way to dissuade motorcyclists from holding their yearly rallies there.
The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the city of Myrtle Beach’s law that requires motorcycle riders coming through town to wear helmets and eyewear. The S.C. Supreme Court ruled City of Myrtle Beach Ordinance 2008-64 is invalid on the grounds that it is superseded by state law.

The petition against the City of Myrtle Beach states “If local authorities are allowed to enforce individual helmet ordinances, riders would need to familiarize themselves with the various ordinances in advance of a trip, so as to ensure compliance.” The justices concurred that this creates undue confusion besides preempting state law.

"Local authorities might enact ordinances imposing additional and even conflicting equipment requirements," wrote Justice Costa Pleicones. "Such burdens would unduly limit a citizen's freedom of movement throughout the state."

The Myrtle Beach City Council enacted the law in 2008 after continuous complaints from residents about noise, lewd behavior and the burden it imposes on local law enforcement and emergency services during motorcycle rallies. The lawsuit against the ordinance was filed in April 2009 by 49 petitioners who were cited for failing to wear the requisite helmet and eyewear. South Carolina state law states that anyone over the age of 21 is not required to wear a helmet.
The concluding statements on the decision states "We find that the City Helmet Ordinance fails under implied field preemption due to the need for statewide uniformity and therefore issue a declaratory judgment invalidating the ordinance.”

An article in the SunNews.com reports that city attorney Tom Ellenburg said “the helmet law’s repeal takes effect immediately, and he will issue an order that the municipal court dismiss all pending helmet tickets, that all records be expunged for those who have received tickets and paid fines, and that all fines paid be returned to the people who paid them.”

In the same article, Myrtle Beach’s Mayor John Rhodes, a major proponent of the helmet law, is quoted as saying that the decision wouldn’t change much and that "We've already made it clear we don't support rallies and won't support rallies.”

The ruling definitely damaged the reputation of what was once one of the premier motorcycle rallies in the country. Attendance numbers at Myrtle Beach Bike Week have shown double digit declines in the last two years. The businesses of Myrtle Beach have been particularly affected as motorcyclists avoid the city itself, opting for more biker-friendly locales like Murrels Inlet and North Myrtle Beach.

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Jim -Helmet Laws  September 2, 2010 08:19 AM
For those of you who say not wearing a helmet is stupid, you're entitled to your opinion; however, I don't believe that any government laws should be in place that restrict a person's freedom of choice when he/she is only putting him/herself at risk. Seat belt laws and helmet laws should NOT be allowed. What's next, am I going to be forced to wear a helmet on a bicycle? Are we going to make skydiving, hang gliding, repelling, surfing, big game hunting, and any other activity where you're risking your life illegal because someone out there decides it's just stupid too? Come on, you and I both know that we all want the freedom to choose our own fates. Why do you insist on trying to force your views onto others with these laws when their decision to not wear the safety equipment doesn't impact you in the slightest?

Personally I hate helmets - I don't feel you can hear as well with them, it has been proven that drivers wearing this "safety gear" will actually adjust their driving style to be more risky and aggressive so it's a false sense of security at best, it has also been shown that the additional weight of a helmet during a high speed crash can actually cause the neck to snap so maybe your head will be okay but you'll possibly be paralyzed instead; most of all though, I just don't like being told that I have to wear a helmet if I don't want to.

What business is it of anyone else if I choose to not wear a helmet? I drive expecting that nobody sees me, I expect to be cut off, I expect to have people change lanes and not bother to check their blindspots because they're too busy texting or chatting on their cellphones (this happens all too often by the way). Why should I be forced to wear a helmet because the auto drivers out there choose to be crappy drivers? I can't force you to drive better or pay attention, so why should you be able to force me to wear a helmet I completely despise?

The worst argument I've ever heard, but also the most common one I'll hear from non-motorcyclists, is "motorcycles are dangerous because when I'm out there driving, I just don't look for them". To those of you that think this statement makes sense, you need to really think about that and tell me who is truly being the reckless one...and I'll give you a hint, it's not the motorcyclist choosing to not wear a helmet.
Wayne Funderburk - SC Born and Bread -MBSCTMB  August 17, 2010 05:29 PM
It is absoutely the most stupid law that Myrtle Beach had try to enact. It may have worked for a while but think of all the revenue you stupid/dumb butts lost during this time. I said I never would go back to MB unless the law was changed back. Ain't missed a damn thing in your rank-a--town. Spending my money where it is appreciated. While you at it, see if you can find another piece of the downtown Pavallion area that can be destroyed. CBS 60 minutes would get off on this. Congradulations MB for being so stupid. You have saved me lots of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
Joe Lawless -Webmaster  July 19, 2010 10:02 AM
Since the SC State Supreme Court threw out the Myrtle Beach helmet law, efforts are underway to undermine visiting Bikers. MYB is not going to take the Supreme Court decision laying down, especiallyu since their legal noses were rubbed in it by a unanamous Supreme Court decision. They are hell bent to enforce social bigotry of which the MYB city council and citizens of MYB so proudly boast.

As a prime example of "stubborn," the helmet signs will not be removed from the MYB streets. Instead, the reading has been changed to "Helmets Encouraged."

Now, the social bigots in the Myrtle Beach city council are making the remainder of those biker ordinances misdemeanors, offences for which you can and will be arrested, if they are passed. The engine noise ordinance in currrently before the SC State Supreme Court and it will be some time before a decision is handed down.

Mayor Rhodes and the rest of the city council have made it clear that bikers and bike rallies are not wanted and that bikers "are not our kind of people." "There are too many of you and we don't want you."

Even if the engine noise law is struck down by the State Supreme Court, the rest of the ordinances will be enforced (Including arrests) to the hilt. The objective is to nit pick, legally harass and make your life so miserable you will leave MYB and not come back.

So if you visit MYB after the ordinances are enacted as misdemeanors, you had better tow the mark and walk the line. Bikers are not welcome here, law or no law.

The shame of it all, it's all supported by the citizens of MYB.
Hecklerboy -Greg Cape (get your money back)  June 18, 2010 09:00 AM
Greg, you should be able to get your money back and your records expunged now that the laws have been revoked. You might even be able to sue to hardship since you had to drive your son to work as a result of this unconstitutional law. According to the AMA, you only need helmet and eye protection in you're under 21.

Bill the Biker -Transplants  June 17, 2010 08:57 AM
The problem with the people that run Myrtle Beach is the same problem that is taking place everywhere. Transplanted people come to an area and then decide that they like this and that, but do not like a particular thing and they find all of the other transplants, band together and take over. I have seen it here in NC with the tree hugging liberals and Myrtle Beach is seeing it with the Damn Yankee Transplants. Mayor Rhodes is listening to the transplant vote and not the business vote. Myrtle Beach is what it is because of the growth. Before all the growth the bikers spent there money and it was needed. Now they have ONE, Alligator adventure etc. and our money is suddenly not needed anymore. The cops get a bad rap because they are just doing there job. The real problem is that people are trying to be politically correct and were afraid of Black Bike Week and folded when they were threatened with a lawsuit. Tell the people to act like they had some Damn sense or go to jail. Don't punish everyone because of a couple hundred assholes!! My money will be spent everywhere except Myrtle Beach and you transplanted yankees will run up and cower behind our asses when s**t hit the fan and you need one of us BIKERS to help your ass.
Greg Cape -Myrtle Beach 40 yrs.  June 16, 2010 07:12 AM
I have been going to Myrtle Beach for 40 years on our vacations. My son and myself decided to take our bikes for the first time in 2008, (not even bike week), we had our little helmets on but were pulled over and fined for no eye protection. Hotel bill $1,200, fines $230. My son ended up loosing his Ga. drivers license for 6 months because of this. I drove him to his 3rd shift job every night to support his family. This ended up causing a lot of hardship for us. Love Myrtle but probably go elsewhere on vacations from now on!
Mcguire -sewer rat  June 16, 2010 02:18 AM
I took one trip to Myrtle beach years ago and decided Daytona and Panama City are better and certainly more bike friendly. Even New Orleans is more bike friendly as long as you park it in a legal spot. Wearing a helmet is just a good idea...really. I had a low speed get-off (jump off actually) and as I rolled away from the sliding bike, the back of my head hit the pavement hard. I had on a new full coverage helmet my daughter had given me for Christmas and I didn't get a scratch on me. It might not look as cool but being a organ transplant doner isn't very cool either.
EAB -Question?  June 11, 2010 02:22 AM
First, I hate helmet laws. You don't wanna wear a helmet? Fine. I feel the same way about seat belts. Now, that being said, you folks reading this, talk to me. Tell me what I am missing. You put your kid in pee wee league, slow pitch baseball and the first thing he/she does before going up to the plate is PUT ON A HELMET. Football? Bicycle? Lacross? Any sort of sport beyond baseball? Skateboarding? Oh, yeah, skateboarding. Records of people dying because of no helmet on a SKATEBOARD. You guys roll around without a helmet. WHY!!!!??? Second question. You ride to the local watering hole and get lit. Yes, one beer while you are riding is too much, but most of the bikers I see on bike night are good for three or four within two hours. That's over the legal limit. WHY!!!??? Really, I want to know why you choose to do this. Third question. During the rain, do we disconnect the exhaust on our car, or do we turn on our lights? We turn on our lights, right? Ok, so why not a bright colored outer garment instead of the ear shattering pipes? I love a good sounding bike, but these straight pipes just make your bike sound like you neglected the exhaust. WHY?? No helmet, intoxicated riding, and pipes that add noise and no performance, please, tell me the appeal. There's a helluva lot of you out there, and I simply don't get it. Educate me.
Steve -Irony  June 10, 2010 04:24 PM
So the city, in an effort to discourage motorcyclists, enacted a helmet law which reduces injury & death to bikers involved in accidents. And this safety measure, among other things, successfully discouraged motorcyclists from coming. This is a sad commentary on both motorcyclists and the city of Myrtle Beach.
Shaitan -Can't we all just get along...  June 10, 2010 04:18 PM
Can't we all just get along...?! Nope, it'll never happen.
Chad -Biker  June 10, 2010 11:47 AM
People should beware to not bite the hand that makes them successful. Bikers sometimes go on trip without their bikes, and we don't forget about places that don't like us. Less biz = less money = less local tax money collected. If you want to boost that local tax money, fully support the bike rally. Enjoy the money it brings in.
wildpig -mr wildpig  June 10, 2010 11:38 AM
heres a clue to some: HORRY COUNTY incld murrills inlet an barefoot landing dont want bikers either.......... only folks down there are the bizness people wanting your money--they could care less if u have golf clubs or a bike.............. only people tryin to still beat this dead horse are the bizness people.
LC -a shame  June 10, 2010 11:22 AM
I tell you what, I'm tired of the trend of all good things coming to an end! The Spring Myrtle Beach Rally was one of the most fun times of my life, and I got to live it for a week at a time for several years. I was fortunate, because even if it returns, I doubt it will ever return to it's former glory.

Loss of revenue from that one single annual event has put many mom-and-pop vendors out of business. There won't be as many vendors willing to risk lower turnout and higher space rental fees if Myrtle Beach repeals those ordinances and starts issueing vendor permits for the popular areas again.

I won't risk harassment just for being a biker either. In past years I never received any harassment from police for my loud pipes or anything else. I never got the feeling we weren't welcome.

People talk about not "spending their money" in Myrtle Beach any longer. Hell, I was planning on buying a place in Myrtle for my family based largely on the two bike weeks held there every year. I'm sure glad I didn't do it now. Not only would I have a home that was worth less than I paid for it (the economy, remember City of Myrtle Beach...dumb asses) but I'd also be living in a town where I wasn't welcome (City of Myrtle Beach...dumb asses).
Jay Jacobs -money  June 9, 2010 02:26 PM
It a shame that the businesses of the city have to suffer, but I will not spend my money in Myrtle Beach, till they become more Biker Friendly. And Hope all bikers fill the same way. We Can change laws with our wallets.