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After controversial DUI sentence, Charleston eyes new law addressing hit-and-runs

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Charleston bike taxi DUI crash (copy)

A screenshot from dashcam video showing the moments after a crash between an SUV and a bicycle taxi on Meeting Street in downtown Charleston on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. Provided

The city of Charleston may close a loophole and increase the penalty for someone fleeing the scene of a crash, even if that crash doesn't involve significant injury or damage.

The proposed ordinance stems from resident Gus Molony's recent impassioned plea before City Council to review a DUI sentence handed down from an October arrest.

In that case, a woman hit a pedicab bicycle driver on Meeting Street and fled the scene. The pedicab driver was not injured, and the woman was charged with a misdemeanor DUI. A blood alcohol concentration breathalyzer test showed the woman had consumed three times the legal limit. She was given a fine and ordered to do 48 hours of community service. 

Molony, who helped pull the woman from her Honda Pilot in October about a block away from the incident, said he thought the sentence the woman received was far too lenient.

On Thursday, City Councilman Peter Shahid asked that the city's attorneys craft "an ordinance that addresses an accident of any nature so that the motorist has the obligation to stop at the scene of an accident regardless of if there is an injury or no injury whatsoever."

The council Public Safety Committee unanimously approved the ordinance, which would apply regardless of what or whom is struck by a motorist.

The idea was backed by Councilman James Lewis and Mayor John Tecklenburg and ultimately would need approval from the full council.

Tecklenburg said the city wanted "to close what we perceive as being a loophole in the state law that does, in fact, we believe, allow an accident with a non-vehicle, pedestrian or bicycle where there's no apparent injury or the driver to drive along without there being a violation."

Afterward, Molony seemed pleased with the city's response to what he called a "a serious problem" in downtown Charleston.

"I think that the amount of effort I've seen the City Council and the mayor putting in, and to looking things over and looking for things that might need to be corrected, I'm inspired by that," he said.

Reach Mikaela Porter at 843-937-5906. Follow her on Twitter @mikaelaporterPC.