South Carolina Department of Public Safety
Buckle Up South Carolina - South Carolina’s child passenger restraint law
Synopsis of law:
South Carolina’s child passenger restraint law requires that:
§ Children from birth to 1 year old, or who weigh less than 20 pounds, must be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat.
§ Children 1 through 5 years old weighing at least 20 pounds and less than 40 pounds must be restrained in a forward-facing child seat.
§ Children 1 through 5 years old weighing 40 to 80 pounds must be secured in a belt-positioning booster seat.
§ Children under the age of 6 are not required to be in booster seats if they weigh more than 80 pounds or if they can sit with their backs against the car's seat and bend their legs over the seat edge without slouching.
§ Children under 6 may not sit in the front passenger seat. However, this restriction does not apply if the vehicle has no rear passenger seats or if all other rear passenger seats are occupied by children less than 6 years old.
Violators are subject to a $150 fine. This law does not apply to taxis, church, school and day care buses, or commercial vehicles.
Entire text of law:
SECTION 56-5-6410. Child passenger restraint systems; age and weight as basis for required restraining system; standards.
Every driver of a motor vehicle (passenger car, pickup truck, van, or recreational vehicle) operated on the highways and streets of this State when transporting a child five years of age or younger upon the public streets and highways of the State must provide an appropriate child passenger restraint system and must secure the child as follows:
(1) A child from birth up to one year of age or who weighs less than twenty pounds must be properly secured in a rear-facing child safety seat which meets the standards prescribed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
(2) A child who is at least one year of age but less than six years of age and who weighs at least twenty pounds but less than forty pounds must be secured in a forward-facing child safety seat provided in the motor vehicle which meets the standards prescribed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
(3) A child who is at least one year of age but less than six years of age and who weighs at least forty pounds but not more than eighty pounds must be secured by a belt-positioning booster seat. The belt-positioning booster seat must be used with both lap and shoulder belts. A booster seat must not be used with a lap belt alone.
(4) If a child is at least one year of age but less than six years of age and weighs more than eighty pounds, the child may be restrained in an adult safety belt. If a child less than six years of age can sit with his back straight against the vehicle seat back cushion, with his knees bent over the vehicle's seat edge without slouching, the child may be seated in the regular back seat and secured by an adult safety belt.
(5) A child who is less than six years of age must not occupy a front passenger seat of a motor vehicle. This restriction does not apply if the motor vehicle does not have rear passenger seats or if all rear passenger seats are occupied by other children less than six years of age.
Any child restraint system of a type sufficient to meet the physical standards prescribed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at the time of its manufacture is sufficient to meet the requirements of this article.
SECTION 56-5-6420. Transportation of children with insufficient number of restraint devices.
If all the seating positions with restraint devices are occupied by children under the age of six years, a child may be transported and the driver of the motor vehicle is not in violation of the provisions of this article, but priority must be given to children under the age of six years, according to their ages.
SECTION 56-5-6430. Repealed by 2005 Act No. 147, Section 7, effective 6 months after approval (became law without the Governor's signature on June 9, 2005).
The provisions of this article do not apply if a child being transported is being fed, has a physical impairment, or a medical problem or any distress which makes it impractical to use a child restraint system. Alternate restraint protection, such as safety belts, must be utilized if possible.
SECTION 56-5-6440. Persons and vehicles excepted from article.
The provisions of this article do not apply to:
(1) Taxi drivers.
(2) Drivers of emergency vehicles when operating in an emergency situation.
(3) Church, day care and school bus drivers.
(4) Public transportation operators.
(5) Commercial vehicles.
SECTION 56-5-6445. Applicability of chapter.
The provisions of this article apply to all motor vehicles equipped with safety belts.
SECTION 56-5-6450. Custodial arrest not authorized; penalties for violation of article; waiver.
No person shall be subjected to a custodial arrest for violation of the provisions of this article. Any person violating the provisions of this article shall upon conviction be fined not more than twenty-five dollars. The court shall waive any fine against any person who, before, or upon the appearance date on the summons, supplies the court with evidence of acquisition, purchase or rental of a child restraint system meeting the requirements of this article.
SECTION 56-5-6460. Violation of article not to constitute negligence.
A violation of this article shall not constitute negligence, per se, contributory negligence nor be admissible as evidence in any trial of any civil action.
SECTION 56-5-6470. Enforcement after June 30, 1984.
After June 30, 1984, any person violating the provisions of Article 47 of Chapter 5 of Title 56 may be, when apprehended, issued a summons, to appear in court for the violation, but no person shall at any time be placed under arrest or taken into custody for such a violation, other than upon a warrant issued for failure to appear in court in accordance with the summons or upon failure to pay a fine duly imposed by a court upon conviction.