South Carolina Driving Laws: Everything You Need To Know To Stay Legal

by Elaine SmithMay 14, 2023

Staying informed about South Carolina driving laws will help you remain compliant with the law and contribute to safer roadways for everyone. Navigating the ins and outs of the various driving laws in South Carolina can be a daunting task; that's why we're here to help!

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss everything you need to know to stay legal while driving in the beautiful Palmetto State. But first, let’s take a look at road safety in South Carolina.

An Overview of Road Safety: Car Accidents in South Carolina

Traffic accidents in South Carolina have significant consequences, impacting not only the individuals involved but also their families and communities. To better understand the state's road safety situation, it is crucial to analyze key statistics and contributing factors to traffic accidents.

According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS), in 2021, there were 189,400 reported traffic collisions in the state, resulting in 1,200 fatalities and 53,400 injuries. Statistics from the SCDPS show vehicle fatalities are at a three-year low in South Carolina.

South Carolina Driving Laws You Need to Know

Understanding and adhering to South Carolina driving laws is crucial for maintaining road safety and avoiding legal penalties. Here are the road laws and regulations to keep in mind while driving in SC.

1. Licensing Requirements

To legally operate a motor vehicle in South Carolina, one must obtain a valid driver's license. There are several types of licenses available, including:

  • Class D: Standard passenger vehicles

  • Class M: Motorcycles

  • Commercial Driver's License (CDL): For driving large trucks or buses

To obtain a driver's license, applicants must meet specific age, residency, and testing requirements. These include:

  • Age requirements: 15 years old for a beginner's permit, 15 years and 180 days for a conditional license, and 16 years for a regular license

  • Residency requirements: South Carolina residents only

  • Testing: Written knowledge test, vision test, and a road skills test

2. Traffic Laws and Regulations

South Carolina traffic laws are designed to ensure the safety of all road users. Key regulations include:

  • Right of way: Right of way regulations dictates that drivers must yield to pedestrians, emergency vehicles, and other drivers according to specific rules and signage.

  • Traffic signals and signs: Drivers must obey all traffic signals and signs, including stop signs, yield signs, and traffic lights.

  • Turning: Proper signaling and adherence to lane markings are required when making turns.

  • Passing: Drivers must follow specific rules when passing other vehicles, including using the appropriate lane and signaling.

3. Speed Limits and Enforcement

Speed limits in South Carolina vary depending on the type of road and location. Common speed limits include:

  • Interstates: 70 mph

  • Urban freeways: 60 mph

  • Two-lane roads: 55 mph

  • Residential streets: 30 mph

  • School zones: 25 mph

Speeding violations may result in fines, points on your driving record, and potential suspension of your driver's license. Law enforcement officers use various methods, such as radar and laser devices, to enforce speed limits.

4. Seat Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws

South Carolina law requires all vehicle occupants to wear seat belts. Children under the age of eight must be secured in a child safety seat or booster seat appropriate for their age, weight, and height. Failure to comply with these laws may result in fines and points added to your driving record.

5. Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense in South Carolina. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08% for drivers 21 and older, 0.02% for drivers under 21, and 0.04% for commercial drivers.

Penalties for DUI include fines, jail time, license suspension, and mandatory participation in alcohol or drug education programs.

6. Cell Phone and Texting Laws

South Carolina prohibits texting while driving for all drivers, with fines ranging from $25 to $50. Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use cell phones to report an emergency or when the vehicle is parked or stopped. Drivers 18 and older may use hands-free devices for phone calls. Violating these laws can result in fines and points on your driving record.

7. Insurance Requirements

All South Carolina drivers are required to carry liability insurance to cover bodily injury and property damage in case of an accident. The minimum coverage amounts are:

  • Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident

  • Property damage liability: $25,000 per accident

Drivers must also carry uninsured motorist coverage to protect against accidents caused by uninsured drivers. Failure to maintain adequate insurance coverage can result in fines, suspension of your driver's license, and potential impoundment of your vehicle.

Key Takeaway

Staying informed about South Carolina driving laws is crucial for ensuring the safety of all road users and maintaining a clean driving record. By familiarizing yourself with these road safety regulations, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the roads of the Palmetto State with confidence!

Remember to stay vigilant, drive responsibly, and always adhere to the law. For more information and resources, don't hesitate to visit Keep Driving to enhance your knowledge and become a better driver.

Managing Editor Before joining Keep Driving, Elaine was an editor for an international internet technology consulting firm. She shows tremendous interest in writing about future technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learnings.
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