South Carolina Motorcycle Statutes

South Carolina has several statutes that directly relate to motorcyclists, including licensure, inspections, and use of public roads. If you feel that your rights have been violated call us at 1-800-321-8968 and speak with one of our attorneys who practice in South Carolina and are familiar with current South Carolina motorcycle laws.

SECTION 56-5-140. Motorcycle.

Every motor vehicle having no more than two permanent functional wheels in contact with the ground or trailer and having a saddle for the use of the rider, but excluding a tractor, is a “motorcycle”.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-213; 1952 Code Section 46-213; 1949 (46) 466; 1992 Act No. 486, Section 8; 2000 Act No. 375, Section 7.

SECTION 56-5-145. Automotive three-wheel vehicle defined.

An automotive three-wheel vehicle means a motor vehicle having no more than three permanent functional wheels in contact with the ground, having a bench seat for the use of the operator, and having an automotive type steering device, but excludes a tractor and a motorcycle three-wheel vehicle.

HISTORY: 1992 Act No. 486, Section 1; 2000 Act No. 375, Section 8.

SECTION 56-5-150. Motor-driven cycle.

Every motorcycle, including every motor scooter, with a motor which produces not to exceed five horsepower is a “motor-driven cycle”.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-214; 1952 Code Section 46-214; 1949 (46) 466; 1986 Act No. 528, Section 5.

SECTION 56-5-155. Motorcycle three-wheel vehicle defined.

A motorcycle three-wheel vehicle means a motor vehicle having no more than three permanent functional wheels in contact with the ground and includes motorcycles with detachable side cars, having a saddle type seat for the operator, and handle bars or a motorcycle type steering device, but excludes a tractor or automotive three-wheel vehicle.

SECTION 56-5-1550. Speed limitation on motor-driven cycles.

No person shall operate any motor-driven cycle at any time mentioned in Section 56-5-4450 at a speed greater than thirty-five miles per hour unless such motor-driven cycle is equipped with head lamps which are adequate to reveal a person or vehicle at a distance of three hundred feet ahead.

SECTION 56-5-2180. Signals shall be given by hand and arm or signal lamps.

(a) Any stop or turn signal when required herein shall be given either by means of the hand and arm or by signal lamps except as otherwise provided in subsection (b).

(b) Any motor vehicle in use on a highway shall be equipped with, and required signal shall be given by, signal lamps when the distance from the center of the top of the steering post to the left outside limit of the body, cab or load of such motor vehicle exceeds twenty-four inches or when the distance from the center of the top of the steering post to the rear limit of the body or load thereof exceeds fourteen feet. The latter measurement shall apply to any single vehicle or to any combination of vehicles.

SECTION 56-5-3610. Rights and duties of operator of motorcycle generally.

Every person operating a motorcycle shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the drivers of motor vehicles, except as to special regulations or other provisions of law which by their nature would not apply.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-498.4; 1969 (56) 317.

SECTION 56-5-3630. Manner in which motorcycles shall be operated.

(a) A person operating a motorcycle shall ride only upon the permanent and regular seat attached thereto and the operator shall not carry any other person nor shall any other person ride on a motorcycle unless the motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person, in which event a passenger may ride upon the permanent and regular seat if designed for two persons, or upon another seat firmly attached to the motorcycle at the rear or side of the operator.

(b) A person shall ride upon a motorcycle only while sitting astride the seat, facing forward, with one leg on each side of the motorcycle.

(c) No person shall operate a motorcycle while carrying any package, bundle or other article which prevents him from keeping both hands on the handlebars.

(d) No operator shall carry any person, nor shall any person ride, in a position that will interfere with the operation or control of the motorcycle or the view of the operator.

(e) No person riding upon a motorcycle shall attach himself or the motorcycle to any other vehicle on the roadway.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-498; 1952 Code Section 46-498; 1949 (46) 466; 1978 Act No. 451 Section 6.

SECTION 56-5-3640. Motorcycle entitled to full use of lane; riding two or more abreast; overtaking and passing; operation in other instances.

(a) All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. This shall not apply to motorcycles operated two abreast in a single lane.

(b) The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.

(c) No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic, or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.

(d) Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.

(e) Items (b) and (c) shall not apply to police officers in the performance of their official duties.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-498.2; 1969 (56) 317.

SECTION 56-5-3650. Footrests; rear view mirror.

(A) Any motorcycle carrying a passenger, other than in a sidecar or enclosed cab, must be equipped with footrests for its passenger.

(B) A person shall not operate any motorcycle unless it is equipped with a rear view mirror which will afford the operator ample vision to the rear at all times.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-4983; 1969 (56) 317; 2006 Act No. 278, Section 1, eff May 23, 2006.

SECTION 56-5-3660. Helmets shall be worn by operators and passengers under age twenty-one; helmet design; list of approved helmets.

It shall be unlawful for any person under the age of twenty-one to operate or ride upon a two-wheeled motorized vehicle unless he wears a protective helmet of a type approved by the Department of Public Safety. Such a helmet must be equipped with either a neck or chin strap and be reflectorized on both sides thereof. The department is hereby authorized to adopt and amend regulations covering the types of helmets and the specifications therefor and to establish and maintain a list of approved helmets which meet the specifications as established hereunder.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-631; 1967 (55) 199; 1980 Act No. 514, Section 1; 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1422.

SECTION 56-5-3670. Goggles or face shields shall be worn by operators under age twenty-one; list of approved goggles and face shields.

It shall be unlawful for any person under the age of twenty-one to operate a two-wheeled motorized vehicle unless he wears goggles or a face shield of a type approved by the Department of Public Safety. The department is hereby authorized to adopt and amend regulations covering types of goggles and face shields and the specifications therefor and to establish and maintain a list of approved goggles and face shields which meet the specifications as established hereunder.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-632; 1967 (55) 199; 1980 Act No. 514, Section 2; 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1423.

SECTION 56-5-3680. Wind screens.

The provisions of Section 56-5-3670 with respect to goggles and face shields shall not apply to the operator of a two-wheeled motorized vehicle equipped with a wind screen meeting specifications established by the Department of Public Safety. The department is hereby authorized to adopt and amend regulations covering types of wind screens and specifications therefor.

SECTION 56-5-4460. Time when motorcycle lights shall be turned on.

(1) Any person who operates a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle on public streets or highways shall, while so engaged, have the headlights of such motorcycle or motor-driven cycle turned on except for those vehicles exempted by Section 56-5-4470.

(2) Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not more than twenty-five dollars or be imprisoned for not more than ten days.

SECTION 56-5-4490. Head lamps required on motor vehicles and motorcycles.

Every motor vehicle other than a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle shall be equipped with at least two head lamps with at least one on each side of the front of the motor vehicle. Such head lamps shall comply with the requirements and limitations set forth in this article. Every motorcycle and every motor-driven cycle shall be equipped with at least one and not more than two head lamps which shall comply with the requirements and limitations of this article.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-524; 1952 Code Section 46-524; 1949 (46) 466.

SECTION 56-5-4500. Height of head lamps from ground.

Every head lamp upon every motor vehicle, including every motorcycle and motor-driven cycle, shall be located at a height measured from the center of the head lamp of not more than fifty-four inches nor less than twenty-four inches to be measured as set forth in Section 56-5-4480. However, this section shall apply only to new vehicles sold in this State after June 30, 1949.

SECTION 56-5-4830. Special restrictions on lamps; degree of intensity; red, blue and flashing lights.

Any lighted lamp or illuminating device upon a motor vehicle, other than head lamps, spot lamps, auxiliary lamps, flashing turn signals, emergency vehicle warning lamps, and school bus warning lamps, which project a beam of light of an intensity greater than three hundred candlepower shall be so directed that no part of the high intensity portion of the beam will strike the level of the roadway on which the vehicle stands at a distance of more than seventy-five feet from the vehicle.

A person shall not drive, move, or park any vehicle or equipment upon a highway with a lamp or device on it displaying a red or blue light visible from directly in front of the center of it. This section shall not apply to a vehicle upon which a red or blue light visible from the front is expressly authorized or required by this chapter.

Flashing lights are prohibited except on an authorized emergency vehicle, school bus, snow-removal equipment, or on any vehicle as a means of indicating a right or left turn or the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring unusual care in approaching, overtaking, or passing.

SECTION 56-5-970. Traffic-control signal legend.

Whenever traffic is controlled by traffic-control signals exhibiting different colored lights or colored lighted arrows, successively one at a time or in combination, only the colors, green, red, and yellow, shall be used except for special pedestrian signals carrying a word legend. Such lights shall indicate and apply to drivers of vehicles and pedestrians as follows:

(A) Green indication:

(1) Vehicular traffic facing a circular green signal may proceed straight through or turn right or left unless a sign at such place prohibits either such turn. But vehicular traffic, including vehicles turning right or left, shall yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk at the time such signal is exhibited.

(2) Vehicular traffic facing a green arrow signal, shown alone or in combination with another indication, may cautiously enter the intersection only to make the movement indicated by such arrow or such other movement as is permitted by other indications shown at the same time. Such vehicular traffic shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection.

(3) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian-control signal, as provided in Section 56-5-990, pedestrians facing any green signal, except when the sole green signal is a turn arrow, may proceed across the roadway within any marked or unmarked crosswalk.

(B) Steady yellow indication:

(1) Vehicular traffic facing a steady circular yellow or yellow arrow signal is thereby warned that the related green movement is being terminated or that a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter.

(2) Pedestrians facing a steady circular yellow or yellow arrow signal, unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian-control signal as provided in Section 56-5-990, are advised that there is insufficient time to cross the roadway before a red indication is shown and no pedestrian shall then start to cross the roadway.

(C) Steady red indication:

(1) Vehicular traffic facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line but, if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown except as provided in item (3).

(2) Vehicular traffic facing a steady red arrow signal shall not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the arrow, and unless entering the intersection to make a movement permitted by another signal, shall stop at a clearly marked stop line but, if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until an indication permitting the movement indicated by such arrow is shown except as provided in items (3) and (5).

(3) Except when a sign is in place prohibiting a turn, vehicular traffic facing any steady red signal may cautiously enter the intersection to turn right or to turn left from a one-way street into a one-way street after stopping as required by item (1) or (2). Such vehicular traffic shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection.

(4) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian-control signal as provided in Section 56-5-3110, pedestrians facing a steady circular red or red arrow signal alone shall not enter the roadway.

(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a driver of a motorcycle or moped, or a bicycle rider, approaches an intersection that is controlled by a traffic-control device, the driver may proceed through the intersection on a steady red light only if the driver or rider, as the case may be:

(a) comes to a full and complete stop at the intersection for one hundred twenty seconds; and

(b) exercises due care as provided by law, otherwise treats the traffic control device as a stop sign, and determines it is safe to proceed.