After getting a motorcycle license in South Carolina, going on rides on a motorcycle is a freeing experience that many describe as robust and high energy. It is also an environmentally friendly way to get around. However, riding on a motorcycle also comes with its share of risks. Motorcycles are difficult for other drivers to see. They also don’t offer the same protection other vehicles do.
Because riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, laws are enforced to make sure riders only get their licenses when they are ready. When you choose to ride a motorcycle, knowing and following the general rules of the road as well as the many South Carolina laws that apply specifically to motorcycle riding can keep you safe. You will also need to know these laws in order to take the knowledge test at a South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles examining office in order to qualify for a Class M motorcycle license. If you already have your Class M license, we recommend reading through the S.C. Driver’s Manual again to brush up on your knowledge of these laws. Knowing and abiding by these laws can help to keep you safe and prevent a motorcycle accident.
Here are the basic rules and regulations that apply to riders looking to get a license in South Carolina.
Motorcycle Licensing Laws in South Carolina
Here are the general rules that apply to obtaining a motorcycle license in South Carolina:
- If you are 18 years or older and wish to get a motorcycle license in South Carolina, you must go to the DMV with proof of residency and insurance information. You will also be required to pass a vision and road test before getting your license.
- If you are between the ages of 15 and 17 and have a beginner’s driver permit that you have held for 180 days, you are eligible to get a beginner’s motorcycle permit. You can get this permit by taking a vision and motorcycle knowledge test.
- If you are between the ages of 15 and 17 and have a conditional driver’s license, you can get a conditional motorcycle license in South Carolina by taking a vision test, a motorcycle knowledge test, and a motorcycle skills test.
- If you are between the ages of 15 and 17 and have never had any license or permit before, you must start by getting a motorcycle permit. After holding the license for 180 days, you will be eligible to apply for a motorcycle license.
- If you are under the age of 18 and are applying for a motorcycle license, you must bring a parent or legal guardian with you to sign your application. You must bring your beginner’s permit and submit a PDLA form. This form certifies that you have completed your driver’s education course, have satisfactory school attendance, completed at least 40 hours of driving, including 10 hours of night driving with a licensed driver, and that you have passed the road and vision test.
- The type of license given to motorcyclists 15 and over is called a Class M license. This allows a motorcyclist to operate any motorcycle, including a two-wheeler, three-wheeler, or one with a sidecar.
- Those that only want to operate motorcycles with a sidecar must get an S3 restriction with their Class M license. Those with this type of restriction are prohibited from riding in any motorcycle without a sidecar.
- Three-wheel motorcycles and automotive three-wheel motorcycles may be operated by anyone with any type of motorcycle license except a Class G Moped license.
Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Near You in South Carolina
No matter how prepared you are when you begin riding your motorcycle, accidents do happen. Other drivers can be distracted and disobey the rules of the road making for dangerous conditions, and motorcycles are especially vulnerable to this type of behavior. If you find yourself in this type of worst-case scenario, you need a reliable South Carolina motorcycle accident lawyer near you on your side. The Jeffcoat Firm is highly recommended.
The Jeffcoat Firm has years of experience in the field of traffic accidents (such as motorcycle and car accidents) and personal injury law. They take a client-centered approach treating the people they represent with care and respect during difficult times. But when it comes to getting their clients the compensation they deserve, they take a ruthless, aggressive approach to making sure justice is served.
If you are thinking of getting a motorcycle license, knowing the rules and regulations that apply is a good first step. Follow it up by doing all you can to stay safe. We wish you the best of luck and an enjoyable experience on the road.
Helmets and Other Rider Safety Equipment
If you are a motorcycle under the age of 21, South Carolina law requires that you wear two pieces of equipment:
- Helmet – Motorcycle helmets must be approved by the S.C. Department of Public Safety. The helmet must also have a neck or chin strap and be “reflectorized” on both sides.
- Eye protection – Motorcycle riders are required to wear eye protection when operating a motorcycle. Goggles or a face shield attached to the helmet can satisfy this requirement.
If you are over the age of 21, you are not required by law to wear a helmet or eye protection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that motorcycle helmets saved 1,872 lives in the U.S. in 2017 and could have saved an additional 749 lives if all motorcyclists had worn their helmets at the time of their crash. In South Carolina, specifically, helmets saved 26 lives and could have saved 38 more motorcyclists if they had been wearing them, according to the NHTSA.
Besides a helmet and goggles, there is other protective gear that can be worn:
- Sturdy gloves
- Ankle-high boots
- Long-sleeved shirt
- A jacket made of tough material (leather or leather-like synthetic material).
This gear may provide additional protection in a motorcycle wreck.
In addition to the protective gear you wear when riding, your motorcycle must also be properly outfitted. If you don’t have the right equipment and meet state specifications, your motorcycle will not be “street legal.” Also, a poorly equipped bike may simply be unsafe on the road. Consider a few things that your bike must have:
- Footrests or pegs
- A functional seat (if you plan to carry passengers)
- At least one side mirror
You may be surprised to learn that turn signals are not required on motorcycles in South Carolina. You can simply use arm and hand signals. Still, having signals on your bike – especially if you ride in the dark or at times when visibility is low can make you more visible to other vehicles. Additionally, in South Carolina, you are not required to have a muffler. There is no limit to how loud your engine can be.
Rules of the Road
Motorcyclists have the same basic rights as any motor vehicle drivers. If you ride a motorcycle in South Carolina, you are allowed to use the whole lane. In fact, you are to be treated just like any other motor vehicle driver. For instance, if you approach an intersection to go straight, and someone is attempting to turn left from oncoming traffic, that driver must stop and yield the right of way to you. Additionally, other drivers are required to pass you by actually completely leaving your lane and occupying the next lane over – not just buzzing around you within your lane.
Lane splitting, also known as whitelining or stripe-riding, occurs when a motorcycle shares a lane with another vehicle. This can happen in three general ways:
- Motorcyclist splits the lane with a car – This typically happens in heavy traffic, where the motorcycle rider does not want to get pinned between cars. The rider moves the bike in between the sides of two other vehicles. While arguably a safety measure, it is still illegal in South Carolina.
- Car splits lane with a motorcycle – This type of lane splitting happens when a driver tries to share the same lane with a motorcycle. It is also illegal in South Carolina.
- Two motorcycles share a lane – This form of lane splitting is perfectly legal. Up to two motorcycles can ride abreast in the same lane, side-by-side, on South Carolina roads.
Whether you ride a motorcycle or drive a car, you must carry liability insurance in South Carolina. To register your car or motorcycle in South Carolina, your insurance must have the following minimum coverage limits:
- $25,000 for bodily injury (per person)
- $50,000 for bodily injury (per accident)
- $25,000 for property damage (per accident).
This is the absolute bare minimum insurance that you must carry by law here in South Carolina.
Many other drivers carry only the minimum amount of insurance or, in violation of the law, they have no insurance at all. Having uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage can help provide another layer of insurance to protect you if an underinsured or uninsured driver injures you.
Get Help from a South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Attorney
For more than 20 years, The Jeffcoat Firm has fought for injured motorcyclists and their passengers throughout South Carolina. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle or dirt bike accident and need help, contact us to schedule a free consultation with an experienced South Carolina injury lawyer.
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