Do You Have To Wear A Motorcycle Helmet In South Carolina?

Beast Riders is reader-supported. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has conducted studies and concluded that using motorcycle helmets while riding decreases the risk of fatalities by 30%.

Despite this, however, there is still opposition to the enforcement of the use of helmets. With such opposition to motorcycle helmets, you may be considering asking, “Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in South Carolina?”.

The answer to this question is not if you are over 21 years old. If you are below the age of 21, you must wear a helmet.

I have gone through most of the details and summarized the most important ones for you. If you want to know the quick basics about this law, this much information may be enough.

However, there are a lot of nuances regarding the law that might be of interest to you. So I would encourage you to read the article in full, so you can understand this.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws And Rules In South Carolina

Do you have to put on a motorcycle helmet in Myrtle Beach South Carolina? Let's find out

Initially, like all other states in America, the state of South Carolina enforced a universal motorcycle helmet law.

This was because, originally, all states were required to have this law in place. Not doing so would mean they would suffer reductions in their highway budgets.

Congress removed this mandate in 1976, which led to many states changing their motorcycle helmet laws. South Carolina followed suit in 1980, amending their law as well.

Since 1980, people of all ages are no longer mandated to have a helmet while operating a motor vehicle called a motorcycle.

This means that all people over the age of 21 are now allowed to decide whether or not they want to wear a motorcycle helmet.

Drivers under 21 are legally required to wear a helmet. Drivers under 21 must have a learner’s permit to drive. This law can be found under S.C. Code § 56‐5‐3660.

For those over 21, the state requires them to have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s licenses. You must go to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get this endorsement.

To receive the endorsement, you will need to pass a few tests. This includes tests like a driving test, road knowledge test, etc.

Driving a motorcycle without this endorsement can land you in trouble with local law enforcement.

Motorcycle Helmet Requirements In SC

It is important to research when you are looking to buy a new helmet for a motorcycle.

The state named South Carolina has some detailed requirements and standards that must be fulfilled for a legal helmet.

These requirements are based on the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for enforcing these standards.

Normally, all helmet manufacturers in America have to get their helmets checked by the DOT. Motorcycle helmets will have a DOT sticker to signify approval.

Still, to be safe, I have mentioned the requirements for a helmet to be DOT Approved.

This is because reported cases show that some helmets had fake DOT stickers on them while the helmets themselves were not up to the standards.

These standards are there to provide maximum protection and comfort for the person who is wearing them.

According to the standards set by American National Standards Institute (ANSI), your helmet must have an internal foam layer at least 1 inch thick.

It must also have a tight and sturdy chin strap and solid rivets. The helmet must weigh at least 3 pounds. And lastly, no helmet features should extend beyond 2/10 of an inch from the helmet’s surface.

Do note that if your helmet is an open-face helmet and your motorcycle does not feature a windshield, you will need to wear eye protection in the form of goggles, protective glasses, or a separate face shield.

Penalties/Legal Consequences

In the state of South Carolina, the law is quite straightforward for those under 21. Anyone who falls in this category is required to wear a helmet.

Failing to do so will be considered a noncriminal traffic infraction. This means that the person will be liable for a fine set by the court.

This is not the case for adults, however, as they are entitled to their decision of not wearing one. However, the situation can be quite interesting if they get into an accident without a helmet.

The reason for this is that South Carolina has a modified version of the system of comparative negligence. Meaning a person may be the ones responsible for being the cause of their injuries.

The victim in a motorcycle accident case is given a fault percentage. Their compensation is reduced based on this percentage.

The victim may even be barred from receiving compensation if their fault percentage is greater than the other involved parties.

This is also why insurance companies are allowed to challenge the amount they are required to pay a person involved in a motorcycle accident.

In most cases, people receiving head injuries in motorcycle accidents without wearing a helmet while driving receive a reduced amount of damage.

This is because the company responsible for insurance, also known as an insurance company, can claim that the person is partially responsible for the injuries.

Why There Is Opposition To The Enforcement Of Motorcycle Helmet Law

As mentioned before in this article, there is quite a large number of people who oppose the enforcement of the wearing of motorcycle helmets.

There are several reasons why they hold this opinion. One of the biggest arguments against motorcycle helmet laws is that forcing people to wear a helmet infringes on people’s freedom.

They argue that instead of forcing people to wear helmets, they should be educated to drive safely. They say enforcing people through legal means will instead push them away from understanding why the law is in place.

Although, in reality, this argument has been tried and tested. The results are better when motorcycle helmet laws are enforced.

Another more logical reason is that some people have trouble hearing when they wear a helmet. This is a genuine issue because you need to have your sense of hearing while on the road.

People usually face this problem with helmets of the wrong size. So, if you face this problem, getting a new helmet of the right size is best.

Get In Touch With Experienced Motorcycle Attorneys In South Carolina

Legal issues are complex and require a lot of manpower to resolve. Luckily, some dedicated attorneys specialize in motorcycle injury cases and will help you with tasks such as this.

1. Leddy Law Firm, LLC

Leddy Law Firm, LLC is a personal injury law firm that covers various injury cases. Motorcycle accident cases are included in this. They also provide free evaluation for cases which makes them the perfect fit if you need them.

Phone Number: 803-253-1595

2. Joye Law Firm

Joye Law Firm is a firm that treats every client with respect. They aim to represent every client and provide them with the compensation that the clients deserve if we talk about motorcycle accident cases. They also provide free consultations, which is great.

Phone Number: (877) 941-1019

3. The Jeffcoat Firm Injury & Accident Lawyers

The Jeffcoat Firm Injury & Accident Lawyers have an amazing track record when it comes to motorcycle accidents.

They have recovered a total of around $750000. They are more than confident in their ability to get you your deserved compensation.

Phone Number: (803) 373-1302

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is It Ok To Wear An Open Face Helmet In South Carolina?

Open-face helmets are okay to wear so long as they are DOT-Approved. You will have to wear protection for your eyes like glasses or goggles. This is, however, only a requirement for those who are under the age of 21.

Q2. How Much Is The Fine For Not Wearing A Motorcycle Helmet In South Carolina?

There is a fine for people who are convicted of driving while the helmet was not on. The amount of the fine can be up to $100. This fine is only for those who are under 21 and not for adults.

Q3. When Did Motorcycle Helmet Become Law In South Carolina?

The motorcycle helmet law was originally universal. However, since 1980, it has been changed to allow people over the age of 21 to have the choice to have a helmet on while operating a motorcycle.

Q4. Should Passengers Wear A Helmet In South Carolina?

Passengers under 21 are mandated to use a helmet. However, as an adult passenger, wearing one is not required.

Q5. Are Moped Drivers Required To Wear A Helmet In South Carolina?

Any person under 21 riding a moped is required to wear a helmet. This also includes the passengers as well.

You may also be interested in my article: How To Get A Motorcycle License In South Carolina


Regardless of whether you are under the age of 21 or not, or if you have the choice not to wear a helmet, I would still suggest that you wear one while riding a motorcycle. Even the most experienced motorcycle riders will get into an accident from time to time.

In most cases, it is the helmet that saves them from the worst head injuries. So, in the end, to answer the question, “Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in South Carolina?”.

I would say you do not have to legally if you are an adult. But, you still should consider wearing a helmet for your own safety.

Recent Posts