8 South Carolina Driving Laws You Don't Know
Can you drive without insurance in SC? Is it legal to take a golf cart to the grocery store? And can you get a ticket for taking your pig on a midnight drive? Test your knowledge of SC’s driving laws.
South Carolina Driving Laws say it’s Illegal to Drive Your Golf Cart at Night — Unless You’re on a Barrier Island
TRUE: Barrier islands, such as Edisto Beach, are the only place you can drive a golf cart at night in South Carolina. South Carolina’s golf cart laws are pretty slack, otherwise. As long as you’re at least 16, and you have all the necessary paperwork (a driver’s license, proof of liability insurance for the golf cart, and a $5 permit), you can drive a golf cart on secondary roads, where the speed limit is 35 mph or less, up to four miles from your house.
In South Carolina, the Minimum Age to Operate an ATV is Eight
FALSE: The minimum age is actually six. That’s right: six. We’re not talking about a plug-in Barbie jeep, but a real all-terrain vehicle. The law says it is unlawful for a parent or legal guardian of a person less than six years of age to knowingly permit that person to operate an ATV.
That being said, there are some restrictions on young drivers. Parents must abide by the age restriction on the vehicle’s label. Anyone under 15 must wear a helmet and eye protection while driving an ATV, and must have completed a safety course approved by the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute.
In South Carolina, it’s Illegal to Take Your Pig for a Nighttime Drive
TRUE: “It shall be unlawful for any person to load or haul by truck any cattle or swine between the hours of sunset and sunrise,” one odd SC law states, unless you first get written permission from the local sheriff or magistrate. There are a few exceptions, like if you purchased the animals at an auction in the last 24 hours. The penalty for breaking this law: a fine of up to $100, or a sentence doing public works for the county for up to 30 days.
Naughty Bumper Stickers are Illegal in South Carolina
TRUE: SC law says you can’t drive a vehicle with “any sticker, decal, emblem, or other device containing obscene or indecent words, photographs, or depictions.” The penalty is a fine up to $200.
What, exactly, does “obscene or indecent” mean? Lawmakers’ definition is that “it describes, in a patently offensive way, as determined by contemporary community standards, sexual acts, excretory functions, or parts of the human body; and… taken as a whole, it lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” We’re wondering if our “My Other Ride Is Your Mom” sticker counts. If you have a sticker that’s borderline, consider removing it.
In South Carolina, it’s Illegal to Wear Headphones while Driving
FALSE: There’s no law that forbids wearing headphones or earbuds while you drive. It’s obviously not a good idea to blast music into your ears as you drive, however, because you could miss hearing sirens, horns or other important auditory cues.
In South Carolina, it’s Illegal to Cruise in the Left Lane on the Highway
TRUE: South Carolina driving laws say that “upon all roadways any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” This is a long-winded way of saying: If you’re driving slowly, keep right.
South Carolina’s left-lane law is enforced, too. State troopers wrote 1,132 tickets for breaking the law in 2016, the AP reports, although those tickets include related violations, such as illegally crossing the center line. In 2017, a frustrated state senator proposed fining left-lane slowpokes $200.
Texting and Driving is Illegal in South Carolina
TRUE: Sending a text message while driving is against the law in SC. However, critics say the law is ineffective. It’s not illegal to use a phone for other purposes while driving, so if you’re pulled over for texting and driving, you could claim you were doing something else. You are allowed to text at stoplights, or when otherwise legally stopped. And if you are caught texting and driving, the fine is only $25. That doesn’t mean you should do it, however! Distracted driving can be deadly.
You Can Drive Legally in South Carolina Without Insurance
(Sadly) TRUE: South Carolina does give people who have clean driving records and have held a driver’s license for at least three years the option of registering as an uninsured motorist. This means you can pay $550 each year for the privilege of driving an uninsured motor vehicle on South Carolina roads. You get NO insurance coverage for this fee, however, so if you cause an accident, you’re responsible for 100 percent of the costs that ensue.