SCDPS Home SCDPS Email Access Contact Us

Buckle Up South Carolina

Bookmark and Share

SC Safety belt Law

SYNOPSIS OF LAW:


South Carolina’s safety belt law requires that every driver and every occupant of a motor vehicle, when it is being operated on the public streets and highways of this State, must wear a fastened safety belt that complies with all provisions of federal law for its use. The driver is charged with the responsibility of requiring every occupant 17 years of age or younger to wear a safety belt or be secured in a child restraint system as required by law. However, a driver is not responsible for an occupant 17 years of age of age or younger who has a driver’s license, special restricted license, or beginner’s permit and who is not wearing a safety belt.

This law does not apply to:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • School, church, or day care buses;
  • Public transportation vehicles except taxis;
  • Occupants of vehicles in parades;
  • United States mail carriers;
  • An occupant for which no seatbelt is available because all belts are being used by other occupants;
  • A driver or occupants in a vehicle not originally equipped with safety belts.

As of December 9, 2005, South Carolina’s safety belt law changed from secondary enforcement to primary enforcement.  What does this mean to a motorist?  Under the old law, an officer could only cite a motorist for a safety belt violation if the motorist had been stopped for another violation.  The new primary law, however, gives law enforcement officers the authority to stop a driver if the officer has a clear and unobstructed view of a driver or occupant of a motor vehicle not wearing a safety belt or not secured in a child restraint system.

Violators are subject to a fine not more than $25.  No person may be fined more than $50 for any one incident of more than one violation.

Entire text of law

SECTION 56-5-6510.
  Definitions.

As used in this article:

(1) "Motor vehicle" means a passenger car, truck, van, or recreational vehicle required to be equipped with safety belts by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208 (49 CFR 571.208) , manufactured after July, 1966.

(2) "Driver" means a person who drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.

SECTION 56-5-6520.  Mandatory use of seat belt.

The driver and every occupant of a motor vehicle, when it is being operated on the public streets and highways of this State, must wear a fastened safety belt which complies with all provisions of federal law for its use. 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 as provided in Article 47 of this chapter. However, a driver is not responsible for an occupant seventeen years of age or younger who has a driver's license, special restricted license, or beginner's permit and who is not wearing a seat belt; such occupant is in violation of this article and must be fined in accordance with Section 56-5-6540.

SECTION 56-5-6525.  Limits on use of checkpoints or roadblocks to enforce this article.

(A) The Department of Public Safety or any other law enforcement agency must not use a "Click It or Ticket" campaign or a similar endeavor of systematic checkpoints or roadblocks as a law enforcement tool where the principal purpose is to detect and issue a ticket to a violator of the provisions of this article on either a primary or secondary basis.

(B) A person must not be issued a citation at any checkpoint established to stop all drivers on a certain road for a period of time for removing their seatbelts in order to retrieve documentation that must be produced at the checkpoint.

SECTION 56-5-6530.  Exceptions.

The provisions of this article do not apply to:

(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 day care buses;

(4) public transportation vehicles except 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.

SECTION 56-5-6540.  Penalty; nature of offense; ; issuance of citations at checkpoints; admissibility as evidence of negligence in civil action; searches; probable cause that violation has occurred; trial; appeals.

(A) A person who is adjudicated to be in violation of the provisions of this article must be fined not more than twenty-five dollars, no part of which may be suspended. No court costs, assessments, or surcharges may be assessed against a person who violates a provision of this article. A person must not be fined more than fifty dollars for any one incident of one or more violations of the provisions of this article. A custodial arrest for a violation of this article must not be made, except upon a warrant issued for failure to appear in court when summoned or for failure to pay an imposed fine. A violation of this article does not constitute a criminal offense. Notwithstanding Section 56-1-640, a violation of this article must not be:

(1) included in the offender's motor vehicle records maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles or in the criminal records maintained by SLED; or

(2) reported to the offender's motor vehicle insurer.

(B) A law enforcement officer must not issue a citation to a driver or a passenger for a violation of this article when the stop is made in conjunction with a driver's license check, safety check, or registration check conducted at a checkpoint established to stop all drivers on a certain road for a period of time, except when the driver is cited for violating another motor vehicle law. The driver and any passenger shall be required to buckle up before departing the checkpoint and should the driver or the passenger refuse, then the person refusing may be charged with a primary violation.

(C) A violation of this article is not negligence per se or contributory negligence, and is not admissible as evidence in a civil action.

(D) A vehicle, driver, or occupant in a vehicle must not be searched, nor may consent to search be requested by a law enforcement officer, solely because of a violation of this article.

(E) A law enforcement officer must not stop a driver for a violation of this article except when the officer has probable cause that a violation has occurred based on his clear and unobstructed view of a driver or an occupant of the motor vehicle who is not wearing a safety belt or is not secured in a child restraint system as required by Article 47 of this chapter.

(F) A person charged with a violation of this article may admit or deny the violation, enter a plea of nolo contendere, or be tried before either a judge or a jury. If the trier of fact is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was not wearing a safety belt at the time of the incident, the penalty is a civil fine pursuant to Section 56-5-6540. If the trier of fact determines that the State has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was not wearing a safety belt, no penalty shall be assessed.

(G) A person found to be in violation of this article may bring an appeal to the court of common pleas pursuant to Section 18-3-10 or Section 14-25-95.

SECTION 56-5-6550.  No points against license for violation.

No points provided for in Section 56-1-720 or any other provision of law may be assessed for a violation of this article.

SECTION 56-5-6560.  Collection of motor vehicle stop data regarding age, gender, and race of driver; development of database; reports.

(A) Any time a motor vehicle is stopped by a state or local law enforcement officer without a citation being issued or an arrest being made, the officer who initiated the stop must complete a data collection form designed by the Department of Public Safety that must include information regarding the age, gender, and race or ethnicity of the driver of the vehicle. This information may be gathered and transmitted electronically under the supervision of the department which shall develop and maintain a database storing the information collected. The department must promulgate rules and regulations with regard to the collection and submission of the information gathered.

(B) The Department of Public Safety shall develop and maintain a database for the information submitted to the department under subsection (A) and prepare a report to be posted on the department's website regarding motor vehicle stops using the collected information.

(C) The General Assembly shall have the authority to withhold any state funds or federal pass-through funds from any state or local law enforcement agency that fails to comply with the requirements of this section.

(D) This section must be reviewed by the Senate Transportation Committee and the House of Representatives Education and Public Works Committee during the 2010 Session of the General Assembly. The committees must make recommendations of appropriate changes, if any, to this section before the end of the 2010 Session.

SECTION 56-5-6565.  Safety belt education programs.

(A) The Department of Public Safety shall develop and implement education programs designed to create awareness of the state's safety belt laws and to increase safety belt use in rural and ethnically diverse areas throughout the State. The Department of Public Safety, when securing consultant, contractor, and subcontractor services for developing and implementing programs related to safety belt laws, shall select providers that have experience working with the communities the provider is procured to target. The Department of Public Safety shall confer with members of the targeted communities for input on the development of effective safety education programs and on the identification of providers that have the appropriate experience with the targeted communities.

(B) The Department of Transportation may develop additional programs to promote safety belt use or may coordinate with the Department of Public Safety to fund and carry out the programs jointly. If there is coordination between the two departments, the Department of Public Safety has final authority on all issues including, but not limited to, program content and dissemination, allocation of funds, and procurement procedures.

(C) The Department of Public Safety may use available federal funds or private sector contributions to meet the requirements of subsection (A). The General Assembly may provide funds to supplement federal or private sector funds used by the Department of Public Safety or the Department of Transportation to develop and implement the programs described in subsection (A). The General Assembly shall provide the Department of Public Safety the funds necessary to meet the requirements of subsection (A), if federal or private sector funds are unavailable.

LPITS@http://www.scstatehouse.net

 

 

CALEA Accreditation