What are South Carolina’s Motorcycle Laws?

At the David W. Martin Law Group, our South Carolina motorcycle accident attorneys know that buying a motorcycle is an exciting time for riders everywhere. We also know that there are multiple steps riders need to take to ensure they are safely and legally operating their motorcycles.

Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions (and answers!) about motorcycle riding in South Carolina.

South Carolina Motorcycle Laws

Do I Need a Special Driver’s License for a Motorcycle in South Carolina?

You must obtain a Class M license from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV).

You must have a motorcycle beginner’s permit for 180 days before trying for a motorcycle license. You must pass the motorcycle knowledge test to obtain a beginner’s permit.

If you are applying for a motorcycle license, you must take your skills test — also called a road test — at a designated SCDMV branch.

Do I Need to Obtain Insurance for My Motorcycle?

South Carolina requires all riders to have motorcycle insurance.

The minimum coverage for motorcycle insurance policies includes:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury liability or death of one person.
  • $50,000 for bodily injury liability or death per accident.
  • $25,000 for property damage liability.
  • $25,000 for uninsured motorist coverage per person.

You must show proof of insurance before registering your motorcycle and receiving a license plate. Many insurance companies may offer discounts if the motorcyclist completes a safety instruction course. Here is where to find one near you.

Do I Need to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in South Carolina?

South Carolina does not require motorcycle drivers or passengers who are 21 or older to wear helmets.

However, people under 21 must wear helmets. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) must approve the helmets, which must have a neck or chin strap and have reflectors on both sides. People under 21 must also wear goggles or face screens unless the motorcycle has a windscreen, which the SCDPS must also approve.

Even if you are not legally required to wear a helmet while riding, our South Carolina motorcycle accident and traumatic brain injury attorneys encourage you to do so.

Here’s why:

Are There Any Special Traffic Laws for Motorcycles in South Carolina?

Motorcyclists are required to follow all the same laws as other motorists in cars, trucks, and SUVs. They also have just as much right to the road as other vehicles.

However, a few additional laws regarding motorcycles do not apply to other motorists, including:

  • You can only ride while sitting in a permanent, regular seat.
  • You must ride facing forward with one leg on each side of the bike.
  • You must keep your headlights on.
  • You cannot carry a package, bag, or another item that will prevent you from keeping both hands on the handlebars.
  • The motorcycle must have a rearview mirror with a good view of what’s behind it.
  • You cannot pass a vehicle in the same lane occupied by that vehicle.
  • You cannot ride between lanes or between adjacent rows of vehicles.
  • You cannot attach yourself or your bike or hold onto another bike or vehicle on the road.
  • To carry a passenger, you must have a motorcycle designed for a passenger. Unless the passenger is in a sidecar or enclosed cab, the bike must have footrests for the passenger.
  • You cannot carry a passenger in a position that interferes with your control or view.
  • If you ride with others, you can only ride two bikes wide in a lane.

Can I Get a DUI on a Motorcycle in South Carolina?

Yes. Like automobiles, you should never drink and drive while riding a motorcycle.

Getting pulled over will subject you to the same criminal penalties, potential civil liability, and severe personal injuries associated with driving under the influence of a vehicle.

Contact Our Dedicated South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone you love was injured or lost their life in a motorcycle accident caused by negligence, call 803-548-2468 or contact us online to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the best outcome for your unique case by partnering with our dedicated South Carolina personal injury attorneys at the David W. Martin Law Group today.


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David W. Martin Law Group

108 Springs Street
Fort Mill, SC 29715-1722
(803) 548-2468

1061 Red Ventures Drive, Suite 145
Fort Mill, S.C. 29707
(803) 548-2000

910 E. North Street
Greenville, SC 29601
(803) 590-1958

324 East St. John Street, Suite F-2
Spartanburg, SC 29302
(864) 606-0053

331 Oakland Avenue
Rock Hill, SC 29730
(803) 985-9200

110 Trader’s Cross, 1st Floor
Bluffton, SC 29909
(843) 949-4354

2411 N. Oak Street, Suite 307B, 3rd Floor,
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
(854) 854-5623

1240 Winnowing Way,
Suite 102 Office 1120
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466
(843) 800-8165

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1501 Main Street,
Suite 507, Columbia, SC.

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