Myrtle Beach Freedom Ride

March 2, 2009

All Posts, News

About a hundred bikers protested the new Myrtle Beach, South Carolina helmet law last Saturday with a “Freedom Ride.”

South Carolina does not require motorcyclists over the age of 21 to wear a helmet. But if, for some reason, you want to ride through Myrtle Beach you have to go buy one and wear it anyway. Not, that obeying that new law is going to do you much good. The law was not actually passed to encourage helmet use.

The helmet law is one of 15 new motorcycle and public conduct laws enacted by the People’s Republic of Myrtle Beach to bully motorcyclists and harass them out of town. The new laws went into effect last Saturday and the point of the freedom ride was to immediately challenge them.

Initial indications are that the local police are ready, willing and able to shake you down.

Short Ride

The protesters packed up at the Beaver Bar in Murrells Inlet and took Kings Highway to Ocean Boulevard. When they crossed into Myrtle Beach they were met by four police cruisers. Twelve city cops stopped the pack, blocked the road, wrote everybody who had actually made it into the city without a hard hat a $100 ticket and told the ticketed bikers to immediately turn around and leave or they would be cited again.

Violating the Myrtle Beach helmet law is a not technically a moving violation. It is a civil infraction like a parking ticket.

Many riders intended to get a ticket which they could then challenge in traffic court. “Fast Fred” Ruddock of North Charleston told the Myrtle Beach Sun News “the citations meant mission accomplished.” Ruddock is the President of a bikers’ rights organization called “Bikers of Lesser Tolerance.”

“The only way we can challenge it is for someone to get a ticket,” Ruddock said. Apparently, none of these well intentioned patriots has ever actually been to traffic court.

Out Of Town Bikers

Bikers came from as far away as Miami, Florida and Albany, New York to take part. Before the ride, participants said they hoped as many as 400 riders would turn out.

The Myrtle Beach Police Department refused requests from multiple news outlets to count the tickets they had issued or specify which laws had been broken. Some of the bikers in the pack wore helmets. Police Captain David Knipes said “numerous” tickets were written and promised to define how many numerous is in a couple of days.

A local attorney named Tom McGrath has agreed to represent the bikers.

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