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What you need to know about riding a Motorcycle in South Carolina

In South Carolina, there is a specific set of laws regarding motorcycle owners’ and operators’ rights, duties, and regulations as outlined in Article 29 (Motorcyclists; The Rights and Duties Thereof). Therefore, to lawfully own and operate a motorcycle in South Carolina, you must acknowledge and abide by the following:

General Rights and Duties of Motorcycle Operators

Section 56-5-3610 states that all motorcycle riders are granted all the same rights and are subject to the same duties as drivers of motor vehicles. The only exception to this is special regulations or other provisions of law which by their nature would not apply.

How Motorcycles Should Be Operated

Under Section 56-5-3630, an operator of a motorcycle:

  • Must only sit on the permanent and regular seat when operating a motorcycle and should only carry another person on the motorcycle if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one person. If so, the passenger must sit on the additional regular and permanent seat on the motorcycle or a seat firmly attached to the motorcycle at the side or rear of the operator. 

  • Must operate a motorcycle sitting on the seat, facing forward, with one leg on each side.

  • Is forbidden to carry any package, bundle, or other article that prevents them from keeping both hands on the handlebars.

  • Is forbidden to operate the motorcycle or carry someone else in a way that will interfere with driving.

  • May not attach themselves or their motorcycle to any other vehicle on the road while operating.

What To Know About Overtaking, Passing, and Use of Lanes on a Motorcycle 

As stated under Section 56-5-3640:

  • All motorcyclists are entitled to full use of a lane, and no motorist can deny them the full use of a lane.

  • An operator of a motorcycle can not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken, with police officers in the performance of their official duties as an exception.

  • No person should operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles, with police officers performing their official duties as an exception.

  • There are no more than two motorcycles allowed to ride side-by-side in the same lane.

Footrests and Rearview Mirror Requirements

Per Section 56-5-3650:

  • Any motorcyclist carrying a passenger must provide footrests for the passenger, with the exception of those riding in a sidecar or enclosed cab.

  • A motorcyclist must not operate their motorcycle without a rearview mirror to provide ample vision of the rearview.

The Lawful Type and Use of Helmets

Section 56-5-3660 states that it is unlawful for an operator or passenger of a two-wheel motorized vehicle under age 21 to do so without a proper helmet. Helmets must be approved by the Department of Public Safety and reflectorized on both sides. They must also have either a neck or chin strap.  Riders 21 and over are not required to wear a helmet in South Carolina.

Goggle and Face Shield Motorcycle Requirements for Riders Under Age 21

As outlined in Section 56-5-3670, any operator of a two-wheel motorized vehicle under 21 years of age must do so with goggles or a face shield approved by the Department of Public Safety.  Riders 21 and over are not required to do so.

Use of Wind Screens on a Motorcycle

The use of wind screens is described in Section 56-5-3680. The provisions of 56-5-3670 regarding goggles and face shields (listed above) do not apply to the motorcycle operator if the vehicle is equipped with a wind screen that meets specifications established by the Department of Public Safety. 

The Legality of Selling or Distributing Helmets, Goggles, or Face Shields

Section 56-5-3690 prohibits people from selling, offering for sale, or distributing helmets, goggles, or face shields for use by motorcycle operators, or protective helmets for use by passengers unless they meet specifications outlined by the Department of Public Safety. 

Penalty For Motorcycle Law Violations

Any person who violates any of the Sections listed above will be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. Once convicted, they will be fined no more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned for no longer than 30 days.

If you have any questions about SC’s motorcycle laws, contact our attorneys by calling (800) 951-9482 or by submitting a free case evaluation form on our website. We’ll talk with you for free and answer any questions you have.

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As motorcyclists, we understand the unique challenges and hardships riders face after a motorcycle accident. As attorneys, we know the laws governing South Carolina’s motorcycle accident litigation and what it takes to secure justice and compensation on behalf of our clients.

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Since 1979 Grimes Teich Anderson has been serving South Carolina motorcycle accident victims and their families. We have fought for thousands of people who have been struck while riding. Contact us to find out how we can help you get your life back on track by getting you compensated for your injuries.


Motorcyclist injured in accident. Details cannot be disclosed due to confidentiality agreement.


Motorcyclist suffered two broken arms after a car turned left in front of the rider.


Motorcycle passenger suffered broken back necessitating multiple surgeries after being struck by a turning RV.

Any result the law firm may have achieved on behalf of one client in one matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.

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We Protect The Good People Of South Carolina

At GTA Law Riders, we know how exhilarating owning and riding a motorcycle feels. However, we have seen the devastating effects of a motorcycle accident firsthand and are dedicated to helping riders like us get back on their feet. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident due to the wrongdoing of another motorist, it could turn your world upside down. Our compassionate motorcycle lawyers are in your corner and will fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve for your injuries.
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We are passionate about protecting the rights of our fellow riders. If you were injured in a motorcycle crash due to another motorist’s wrongdoing, you deserve justice.

With our extensive experience and combined knowledge of motorcycle laws in North and South Carolina, we will fight to secure the full scope of compensation you deserve. Whether it’s going up against insurance companies or going to court, the GTA Law Riders team will always have your back.


A motorcycle accident happens in an instant and can be devastating. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle crash, you need someone who will protect your rights and restore your life. Don’t fall victim to insurance companies’ predatory tactics – instead, speak to the compassionate motorcycle accident lawyers at GTA Law Riders for free.

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