South Carolina Car Seat Laws | The Jeffcoat Firm Injury & Accident Lawyers

South Carolina Car Seat Laws

Car seats save lives. According to the CDC, in states that increased car seat or booster seat laws to age 7 or 8, serious injuries and deaths to children in car accidents decreased 17%. Our car accident lawyers explain South Carolina car seat laws.

What is the law in South Carolina on car seats?

South Carolina Code Title 56 – Motor Vehicles, Article 47 – Child Passenger Restraint System is the South Carolina law on car seats. S.C. Code § 56-5-6410 requires a driver to secure a child under eight years of age in the appropriate child passenger restraint system.

The type of car seat or booster seat required depends on the age and size of the child.

South Carolina Car Seat Laws at a Glance

A quick guide to South Carolina car seat laws:

  • Children under 2 years
    • What: Rear-facing car seat
    • Where: The child must ride in a rear passenger seat
    • Until: The child exceeds the height and weight limits for the restraint system
  • Children 2-4 years (or under 2 and outgrown their rear-facing car seat)
    • What: Forward-facing car seat with a harness
    • Where: The child must ride in a rear passenger seat
    • Until: The child exceeds the height and weight limits for the restraint system
  • Children 4-8 years (or under 4 and outgrown their forward-facing car seat)
    • What: Booster seat used with lap and shoulder belts
    • Where: The child must ride in a rear passenger seat
    • Until: The child fits in an adult seatbelt
  • Children 8 years and older (or 57 inches tall)
    • What: Seatbelt
    • Where: Front or back seat of the vehicle
    • Until: Seatbelts are required for all vehicle occupants of any age

When can a child go without a car seat or booster seat in South Carolina?

In general, a child may use a seat belt alone, without a car seat or a booster seat, when they are eight years old. However, they must also fit properly in an adult seat belt. They must fit into the seat belt so that:

  • The lap belt goes across their thighs and hips – not across their stomach
  • The shoulder belt crosses their chest – not their neck
  • The child can sit with their back straight with their knees over the vehicle seat edge without slouching

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Booster Seats

When does a child need a booster seat in SC?

A child needs a booster seat in South Carolina from age four through age eight until they can fit correctly into an adult seat belt.

Does a 7-year-old need a booster seat in South Carolina?

Yes, a 7-year-old needs a booster seat in South Carolina. The requirement does not end until the child is eight years old and until they are the right height and weight to use an adult seat belt properly.

What is the age, weight, and height for a booster seat?

A child may begin using a booster seat instead of a car seat when they are four years old and when they have outgrown their forward-facing car seat. They outgrow their forward-facing car seat when their height and weight exceed manufacturer recommendations. Once the child meets the requirements to begin using a booster seat, they must continue to use it until age eight and until they are the right size to use an adult seat belt.

Exceptions to Car Seat Laws in South Carolina

Exceptions to car seat laws in South Carolina include:

  • Taxis
  • Church vehicles
  • Emergency vehicles during an emergency
  • Daycare vehicles
  • Public transportation
  • Commercial vehicles
  • Children with medical needs

(S.C. Code § 56-5-6440; § 56-5-6410(A)(5))

Do South Carolina car seat laws apply in a taxi?

Taxi drivers are exempt from responsibility for ensuring that children transported in their vehicle are in the proper restraint system. (S.C. Code § 56-5-6440)

Do South Carolina car seat laws apply in an Uber or Lyft?

While it is not completely clear, car seat laws likely apply in an Uber or Lyft. S.C. Code § 56-5-6440 exempts taxi drivers from car seat laws. However, S.C. Code § 58-23-1610(2) distinguishes Transportation Network Companies, like Uber and Lyft, from the definition of a taxi. The law even explicitly states that a personal vehicle used for providing transportation using a digital platform is “not a taxi.”

Do South Carolina car seat laws apply on public transportation?

Car seat laws do not apply on public transportation in South Carolina.

What if a child can’t use a car seat for medical reasons?

If there is a medical reason that a child can’t use a car seat, S.C. Code § 56-5-6410(A)(5) allows them to make alternative arrangements. The driver must carry documentation from a qualified medical professional approving the use of an alternative restraint system for the child. A NHTSA-approved restraint system meets the requirements appropriate for the child and is approved by a qualified medical care provider.

Can a child ride in front if there is no back seat?

If there is no back seat in a vehicle, a child may ride in the front seat. They must have the proper restraint for their age as required by law. (S.C. Code § 56-5-6420)

Riding in the Front Seat

When can a child ride in the front seat in South Carolina?

A child may ride in the front seat in South Carolina when they are eight years old. However, the CDC recommends that children ride in the back seat until age 12.

Can a child ride in front if there aren’t enough seats?

If all rear seats are occupied with children under eight years old, another child under eight years old may ride in the front seat. The child must use the proper restraint. If possible, an older person must sit upfront so that a child under eight years old can ride in the back. (S.C. Code § 56-5-6420)

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Penalties for Car Seat Violations in South Carolina

What are the penalties for a car seat violation in South Carolina?

The fine is $150 for a car seat violation in South Carolina. (S.C. Code § 56-5-6450)

Is a car seat fine waivable in South Carolina?

It is possible to have a car seat fine waived by providing evidence of acquisition of a compliant restraint system by the court appearance date. (S.C. Code § 56-5-6450)

Can you be arrested for a car seat violation in South Carolina?

Law enforcement may issue a summons to appear, but they may not make an arrest for a car seat violation in South Carolina. The court may issue a warrant for failing to appear in court or failing to pay a fine. (S.C. Code § 56-5-6470)

Who gets the car seat ticket in South Carolina?

South Carolina law puts the requirement on the driver to ensure that children in the vehicle are restrained in the appropriate car seats. The driver is the party who receives the ticket for a car seat violation. For seat belt violations for older children, the driver is responsible for everyone under 18 unless the teenager has a license or learner’s permit.

Do you get license points for a car seat violation in South Carolina?

No license points are assessed for a car seat violation in South Carolina.

What is the penalty for a seatbelt violation in South Carolina?

A seatbelt violation results in a $25 fine. The fine may not be suspended. There are no court costs or surcharges.

Are there points assessed for a seatbelt violation in South Carolina?

A seatbelt violation does not result in driver’s license points.

Car Seat Violations and Car Accident Lawsuits

Is a car seat violation contributory negligence in a South Carolina car accident case?

South Carolina Code § 56-5-6460 says that a violation of car seat laws is not negligence, negligence per set, or contributory negligence. A violation of car seat laws is not admissible as evidence in any trial or civil action in the state.

Attorneys for Car Accidents involving Car Seat Violations

If you have been in an accident that involves children and car seat use, you have important rights. Contact our car accident lawyers at The Jeffcoat Firm, Injury Lawyers today for your free case evaluation.

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