Jebaily Law discusses surprising South Carolina Driving Laws

Every state has driving laws on the books that may shock you, strike you as being unnecessary or stand out to you because they are just plain weird. Roadtrippers, for instance, found several head-scratching laws in states across the country, including:

  • An Alabama ban on driving while blindfolded
  • A California city’s prohibition against jumping from a car that is going 65 mph or faster
  • An ordinance that makes it illegal to drive a red car down Lake Street in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

South Carolina is no exception. We recently cruised through Chapter 5 of the South Carolina Code of Laws – the state’s motor vehicle and traffic laws – and found several items that we found to be interesting for what they prohibit or, in some cases, for what they do not prohibit.

Crazy Laws in South Carolina

Here are 13 South Carolina driving laws that we found in the SC code of laws to be the most surprising:

1. Feel free to surf the web while driving – but no texting!

In 2014, South Carolina joined the majority of states by enacting a ban on texting while driving. Under S.C. Code § 56-5-3890, you cannot use a “wireless electronic communication device to compose, send or read a text-based communication.” However, you can apparently do anything else with the device while you are driving, such as making a phone call, surfing the web or even shooting a video – activities that are as prevalent (and dangerous) as texting while driving, as this CNBC article points out.

2. No helmet, no problem (if you’re an adult).

If you wear a helmet during a motorcycle accident, you reduce your risk of death by 37 percent and your risk of head injury by 69 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite these safety benefits, S.C. Code § 56-5-3660 allows you to ride helmet-free in South Carolina as long as you are age 21 or older. (Check out this Insurance Institute for Highway Safety map to see helmet laws in other states.)

3. Don’t display offensive materials on your vehicle.

You may have seen those stickers on the back of cars and trucks: Calvin from the “Calvin & Hobbes” cartoon, peeing on something like a Ford or Chevy logo. Well, under S.C. Code § 56-5-3885, that sticker could possibly be illegal. The law bars people from putting “obscene or indecent” stickers, decals, emblems or other devices on their vehicles. Police and prosecutors in South Carolina enforce the law, too. See this Associated Press article about a Bonneau driver who went to court over the law in 2011.

Some South Carolina Driving laws can be surpassing.

4. You can’t run in front of a car.

It’s a law. But what the law prohibits seems so obvious that you must wonder, “Is it really necessary?” Regardless, it’s on the books in South Carolina: Under S.C. Code § 56-5-3130, no pedestrian can “suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.” Of course, if you break this law, a fine may be the least of your worries.

5. ‘Skitching’ is really a thing – and it’s really illegal, too.

A law in South Carolina, S.C. Code § 56-5-3450, bars people on bikes, sleds, skateboards or toys from hitching rides on the back of cars – an act that seems so obviously dangerous that we nearly put it in the same category as the one above. However, “skitching” is something people actually do for fun. You can even find “how-to” videos on YouTube. So, even if you don’t break any bones, you are still breaking the law.

6. Use the road, not the sidewalk.

OK, now back to the “it’s-so-obvious” category. Under S.C. Code § 56-5-3835, you cannot drive your car on a sidewalk. You can safely assume the law applies to 18-wheelers, too.

Some South Carolina driving laws will surprise you.

7. You need less instruction to operate a car than a hair dryer.

As the South Carolina Board of Cosmetology notes, you need 1,500 hours of instruction to earn your cosmetology license in the state. Why do we bring this up? Because, in contrast, you need just 14 hours of instruction – eight in the classroom, six on the road – in order to get your first driver’s license. Does something seem askew here?

8. Signal before you slow down – in that order.

As you get ready to make a turn, do you put on your turn signal first and then slow down, or vice versa? Does it matter which order you follow? Yes, as set out in S.C. Code § 56-5-2150. You need to put on your signal at least 100 feet before you make your turn.

9. Walking under the influence.

Drunk driving a truck or commercial vehicle and car drunk driving is a serious problem in South Carolina and across the country. However, as UPI reports, a Loyola University Health System study found that combining drinking and walking can be highly dangerous too. In light of this danger, S.C. Code § 56-5-3270 makes it illegal to walk along a highway when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

segway laws

10. Don’t break the Segway speed limit!

If you ride an “electric personal assistive mobility device,” or Segway, then you probably don’t think that you will ever get a speeding ticket. Think again. Under S.C. Code § 56-5-3310, you break the law if you go 15 mph or faster on one of those devices.

11. When on the road, don’t make yourself at home.

Nothing beats stretching out on the couch and enjoying a nap – but not when you are in a mobile home that is being towed on the highway. South Carolina law – specifically § 56-5-3826 – prohibits occupying a moving house trailer for fairly obvious safety reasons.

12. Is it illegal to drive with headphones in South Carolina?

Take out those headphones before cross into another state! Let’s say you are cruising through South Carolina on I-85. While you are within the state, you can jam out to tunes on your headphones as much as you want. Technically, no S.C. law bans it. However, just make sure that you take them out of your ears by the time you cross into Georgia, where Ga. Code § 40-6-250 bans wearing headphones while driving.

13. Wait for a rest area.

Sure, taking bathroom breaks while you are on the road slows you down. However, based on what S.C. Code § 56-5-5050 prohibits, equipping your car, trailer or semi-trailer with an open toilet is not a legally permissible solution.

Rangeley Bailey

After joining the Jebaily Law Firm of Florence in 2003, she has been able to do precisely that. Her practice focuses on clients who need help with Social Security Disability and people that have been injured in car accidents and other injury cases. “I enjoy helping people,” she says. “I enjoy getting to know them and understanding the challenges they face and figuring out the best way to help them.”