South Carolina Motorcycle Laws & Regulations Lawyer in Columbia, SC

motorcycle laws

Anyone who owns a motorcycle in South Carolina knows that riding a motorcycle requires skill and caution. Staying safe while on a motorcycle also involves understanding and following state traffic laws and regulations. Unfortunately, even the safest biker could be severely injured (or worse) if other travelers fail to obey the law and/or exercise adequate care and caution. When this happens, injured bikers and their injured passengers could be owed significant compensation from any party who is deemed to be at-fault for a crash.

Attorney Chris Davis and the team at the Law Offices of S. Chris Davis know that it is not always easy for injured motorcycle riders to get the fair compensation they deserve after a collision caused by another. We’re here to demand accountability and justice for motorcyclists and bikers who’ve been injured as a result of negligence, recklessness, or intentionally harmful conduct. Our dedication to our clients is reflected in the 5-star Google reviews we have received from clients. This positive feedback has also led to our firm being recognized as one of the best personal injury firms in Columbia. Attorney Chris Davis has also been named a “Top 40 Under 40” attorney for several consecutive years by the National Trial Lawyers Association. When you place your trust in our firm, you’ll be able to rest assured that your case is in good hands.

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in South Carolina, reach out to the Law Offices of S. Chris Davis for a free initial case review. In anticipation of your consultation, you may wish to browse the following information concerning South Carolina’s motorcycle laws. If you were law-abiding in the moments leading up to your crash, that reality could strengthen your case. If the party that harmed you violated the law in the moments leading up to your accident, that reality could strengthen your case too.

Rights and Duties of Motorcycle Operators in South Carolina

The general rights and duties of motorcyclists on South Carolina roads are codified in several statutes:

Section 56-5-3610

This statute states that every motorcycle operator is entitled to the rights and must follow the duties and obligations applicable to drivers of motor vehicles, except where such rights or responsibilities by their nature do not apply to motorcycles.

Section 56-5-3630

This statute states that any motorcycle rider, including passengers, must ride upon a permanent regular seat. A motorcycle cannot carry a passenger unless it is designed to do so. Passengers may not be seated in a way that interferes with the operator’s control over the vehicle. Riders may not carry any package or other object that prevents keeping both hands on the handlebars. No rider may attach themselves or the motorcycle to any other vehicle while on the road.

Section 56-5-3640

This statute gives motorcycles the right to the entire width of a lane of traffic, although two motorcycles may ride side-by-side in the same lane. Any vehicle passing a motorcycle must move entirely over to an adjacent lane. Motorcycle operators may not overtake and pass vehicles in the same lane.

South Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws

South Carolina has a partial motorcycle helmet law, governed by several statutes:

  • Section 56-5-3660: Any motorcycle rider under 21 must wear a protective helmet approved by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. The helmet must have a neck or chin strap and reflective materials on both sides.
  • Section 56-5-3670: Motorcycle operators under 21 must also have a face shield on their helmet or wear goggles that DPS has approved.
  • Section 56-5-3680: Under this statute, an operator required to wear goggles or a face shield is exempted from the requirement if they operate a motorcycle with a wind screen meeting specifications established by DPS.
  • Section 56-5-3690: This statute makes it illegal to sell or distribute a helmet, face shield, or goggles in South Carolina that DPS has not approved. Conviction under this statute may result in a sentence that includes a fine of up to $100 and/or up to 30 days in jail.

South Carolina Motorcycle License Laws

Anyone who wishes to operate a two-wheeled motorcycle on public roads in South Carolina must obtain a Class M motorcycle license or a Class M endorsement on their South Carolina driver’s license. Riders generally need a driver’s license or a motorcycle permit before they can obtain a motorcycle license.

Obtaining a motorcycle license or endorsement requires riders to take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation training course or pass a road skills exam. In addition, other requirements to obtain a motorcycle license or endorsement are as follows:

  • Be at least 15 years old
  • Provide parental/legal guardian consent if under the age of 18
  • Provide a certificate of school attendance and a certificate of completion of driver’s education if under the age of 17
  • Have valid South Carolina motorcycle insurance
  • Pass a vision test and written motorcycle knowledge test
  • Provide proof of identity and South Carolina residency

SC Motorcycle Permit Laws

South Carolina offers motorcycle permits to operators who do not already have a driver’s license and driving experience. A motorcycle permit allows a holder to operate a motorcycle between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Permit holders may ride outside these hours if accompanied by another motorcycle operator who possesses a South Carolina Class M motorcycle license.

Requirements for applying for a motorcycle permit include:

  • Be at least 15 years old
  • Parental/legal guardian consent if under the age of 18
  • Certificate of school attendance and certificate of completion of driver’s education if under the age of 17
  • Have valid South Carolina motorcycle insurance
  • Pass a vision test and written motorcycle knowledge test
  • Provide proof of identity and South Carolina residency

Individuals who obtain a motorcycle permit must hold their permit for at least 180 days before applying for a full Class M motorcycle license.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in South Carolina?

Lane splitting, or the practice of operating a motorcycle between traffic lanes or rows of vehicles, is outlawed by South Carolina law.

Section 56-5-3640

This statute, which grants motorcycle operators the right to the full width of a lane of traffic, prohibits operators from lane splitting. The law expressly states that bikers may not ride between traffic lanes or adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.

Required Equipment for Motorcycles in South Carolina

South Carolina law also requires that motorcycles be outfitted with specific equipment, including:

  • One or two front headlights, which must always be kept on, even in broad daylight; having headlights on makes motorcycles more visible to other drivers
  • A rear red brake light and a rear red reflector visible up to 500 feet away
  • Footrests for all riders, unless a passenger is riding in an attached sidecar
  • At least one side rearview mirror

You might be surprised to learn that South Carolina law does not require motorcycles to be outfitted with turn signals. Instead, operators are permitted to use hand signals to indicate turns. However, turn signals are highly recommended for motorcycles since other motorists may not see a motorcycle operator’s hand signals at night or in other low visibility conditions. Some motorists may also not understand what these hand signals are meant to signify.

Do You Need Insurance on a Motorcycle in South Carolina?

Anyone who wishes to operate a motorcycle on public roads in South Carolina must have insurance coverage. State law requires motorcycle insurance policies to have minimum policy limits, including $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident of bodily injury liability coverage, and $25,000 per accident of property damage liability coverage.

Motorcycle riders may purchase higher limits of these required coverages, in addition to potentially purchasing optional coverages such as:

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which allows a rider to obtain compensation from their insurance when they are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or whose insurance coverage limits cannot fully compensate the rider
  • Medical payments (MedPay) coverage, which could provide a rider with reimbursement for their medical expenses for injuries they suffer in an accident regardless of who caused the crash
  • Collision/comprehensive coverage, which can provide reimbursement for repair costs for accident damage or reimbursement for the fair market value of the bike if it is totaled in a crash

Seeking compensation from your own insurance or another drivers’ insurance policy can be challenging. The insurance company, as a for-profit business with shareholders to answer to, might not always be willing to pay you the full amount of compensation you believe you deserve. Fortunately, an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer will understand how the insurance company will approach your claim and can be ready to negotiate for a fair settlement or file a lawsuit to seek compensation in court if necessary.

Don’t let an insurance company deny, delay, or devalue your accident claim. Hire a lawyer with the right skills and resources to aggressively fight for the compensation you deserve.

Get Help from Our Columbia Motorcycle Accident Law Firm Now

After you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact the Law Offices of S. Chris Davis for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’re ready to discuss the specifics of your accident and what type of compensation you might be owed. With so much on the line, don’t wait until it is too late to get the justice you’re owed. Call us or reach out to us online today. We look forward to speaking with you.