What are the Seat Belt Laws in South Carolina?
Every state has its own set of seat belt laws. It is required by law because of its high success rate in decreasing severe and fatal injuries. In fact, by wearing a seatbelt, front-seat vehicle occupants reduce their risk of death by 45% and the risk of serious injury by 50%, according to the CDC. Those without a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from their vehicle during a crash.
With every state having slight variations, what are South Carolina’s seat belt laws? Here are a few things to know:
Every occupant in an operating vehicle must wear a seat belt, including a car on a public street or a highway. This rule applies to anyone, regardless of age or where you are seated in the car.
Is it Mandatory?
In South Carolina, every driver and passenger in a vehicle must wear a seat belt. Mass transit vehicles or other similar transportation methods are a few of the exceptions to this law but generally this law applies to everyone in an operating vehicle. According to Section 56-5-6530 of the South Carolina Safety Belts law, the exceptions include:
(1) a driver or occupant who possesses a written verification from a physician that he is unable to wear a safety belt for physical or medical reasons;
(2) medical or rescue personnel attending to injured or sick individuals in an emergency vehicle when operating in an emergency situation as well as the injured or sick individuals;
(3) school, church, or daycare buses;
(4) public transportation vehicles except for taxis;
(5) occupants of vehicles in parades;
(6) United States mail carriers;
(7) an occupant for which no safety belt is available because all belts are being used by other occupants;
(8) a driver or occupants in a vehicle not originally equipped with safety belts.
What is the Seat Belt Law?
The exact citation for South Carolina’s seat belt law is Title 56 – Motor Vehicles, Chapter 5, Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways, Article 48, Safety Belts. Specifically, according to Section 56-5-6520, every driver and occupant of a motor vehicle must wear a fastened seat belt when it is being operated on public streets and highways. The driver is charged with the responsibility of requiring each occupant seventeen years of age or younger to wear a safety belt or be secured in a child restraint system.
Are There Penalties for Violating This Law?
If you violate this law and are found without a seat belt when it is required, you can be fined up to $25. While you are fined, violating this law is not a criminal offense in South Carolina. Additionally, no court costs, assessments, or surcharges can be assessed against anyone who violates this law, according to Section 56-5-6540.
Is It a Primary or Secondary Offense
In South Carolina, a seatbelt violation is a primary offense. Law enforcement may stop you if they suspect you are not wearing a seat belt, and they don’t have to have any other cause or suspect a violation of any other law to pull you over. If you are found without a seat belt, you will receive a ticket for this offense.
The best practice when it comes to this law in South Carolina is always to wear one no matter what. It is not worth getting pulled over or even worse, experiencing severe injuries because you didn’t put on a seat belt. Not wearing a seatbelt when you are in an accident will not reduce the amount of compensation you deserve if the accident wasn’t your fault.
In fact, in a car accident claim, whether someone was wearing a seat belt is not admissible evidence. If you have more questions about seat belt laws in South Carolina and if they affect your car accident claim, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the complex claims process.