Safety Laws in South Carolina

Child Car Seat Laws

While riding in a vehicle, children under the age of six need to be properly restrained by an approved child safety seat.

However, additional conditions apply:

  • Children under 1 year old or weighing less than 20 lbs must be in a rear-facing child safety seat.
  • Children 1 through 5 years old, weighing between 20 to 40 lbs., must be in a forward-facing child safety seat.
  • Children over 1 through 5 years old, weighing 40 to 80 lbs., must be in a belt-positioning booster seat.
  • Regardless of age, children weighing over 80 lbs. or those who can can sit erect against the car seat and bend their legs over the seat's edge are not required to be in a booster seat.

In general, children under 6 years old cannot ride in the front seat. But, this stipulation is waived if the vehicle doesn't have a back seat, or if the back seat is occupied by other children under 6 years old.

If you're in the market for one, you can shop online for a child car seat any time of day. Before ordering, make sure to read our How to Buy a Child Safety Seat article.

To ensure a safety seat has been properly installed, visit an Office of Highway Safety fitting station. For more information, call (877) 349-7187.

Seat Belts

With a few exceptions, everyone riding in a vehicle is required to wear a properly-fastened safety belt.

A police officer has the right to pull over a vehicle just because a rider was clearly observed not wearing a seat belt.

Drivers are responsible for ensuring that all passengers 17 years old and younger are properly secured. But, passengers 17 years old and younger who have their own driver's license, special restricted license, or beginner's permit, are responsible for their own conduct.

Drivers can be fined up to $25 per violation, up to a total of $50 per traffic stop. However, no points will be assessed for the offense.

Cell Phones and Texting

Currently, there is a statewide ban on texting while driving for drivers of all ages.


Anyone under 21 years old riding on a motorcycle must wear a helmet and wear protective goggles or a face shield.

Unattended Children

South Carolina doesn't have any statewide rules specifically addressing the issue of leaving children unattended in a vehicle. However, deliberately endangering a child is against the law.

Use common sense and know that children (or pets) left are subject to getting ill or dying from the temperature (hot or cold), kidnapping, and getting out of their seats and into mischief. If you see a child locked in a car in a dangerous situation, call 911 and stay with the car. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

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