Driving is a privilege, not a right. It is an action that has serious consequences if abused. The first step is to obtain a proper license. With all licenses you will need to pass a knowledge and vision test. Here is the basic information required for a driver’s license.
Beginner's Permit: You can apply for a beginner’s permit when you turn 15. This permit allows you to drive a car with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and has at least one year’s driving experience. This licensed driver must sit in the passenger seat beside you. If you are driving between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., the licensed driver must be your parent or guardian. To get your permit, you must have your parent’s signature on the application.
Conditional license (for people who are at least 15 years old and less than 16): Obtain a beginner’s permit at age 15. After driving with this permit for 180 days (approximately six months), you can apply for a conditional license. You must submit a certificate of completion for a driver’s education course and a certificate of satisfactory school attendance. You must also have completed at least 40 hours of driving practice, including at least 10 hours of driving during darkness, while supervised by licensed parent or guardian.
The conditional license allows you to drive by yourself during daylight hours (you are not allowed to drive alone at night). After a year of driving with this license, you can get a regular driver’s license if you have no violations or at-fault accidents.
Special restricted license (for people who are 16 years old and less than 17): A 16 year-old must have a beginner’s permit for at least 180 days; submit a certificate of completion for a driver’s education course and a certificate of satisfactory school attendance; and complete at least 40 hours of driving practice with at least 10 hours of driving after dark. This restricted Driver’s License allows you to drive by yourself during daylight hours (you are not allowed to drive alone at night). You may obtain a time restriction waiver with the submission of two notarized statements allowing you to drive alone after dark. These waivers are granted for people who have school activities, jobs, or vocational training that requires them to be out after dark. The waiver only allows you to drive back and forth to the school event or job. After a year of driving with this license, you can get a regular driver’s license if you have no violations or at-fault accidents.
Regular Driver’s License: If you are at least 17 years old and have had a beginner’s permit for 180 days, you can get a regular license with no restrictions. If you are 17, your parents still have to sign the application with you.
Moped Beginners Permit
If you are 14 years old, you may apply for a license to operate a moped by taking the vision and knowledge test. If you are at least 15 years old and have a driver's license, you do not have to have a moped license to operate a moped.
Motorcycle Beginners Permits
You must be at least 15 years old to apply for this license. If you are under 18 you must bring your parent or legal guardian with you to sign the application. You may drive a motorcycle or motor scooter from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (or 8 p.m. during daylight savings time).
All-terrain vehicles (ATV) are designed primarily for off-road travel on low-pressure tires, which have three or more wheels, and handle bars for steering. ATVs do not include lawn tractors, battery-powered children’s toys or a vehicle that is required to be licensed or titled for highway use.
South Carolina’s ATV Safety Act became effective on July 1, 2011. The legislation is referred to as “Chandler’s Law” and provides safety regulations and requirements for operating all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
ATVs must have the following equipment in good working (operating) condition: an effective muffler; system; a USDA Forest Service approved spark arrester; and a brake system.
Age Restriction Warning Label: It is against the law to remove the Age Restriction Warning Label affixed to the ATV by the manufacturer.
Restrictions for Operating an ATV: It is against the law for anyone to operate an ATV 1) one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise unless it is operated with headlights turned on, 2) while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance or 3) in a reckless manner.
Parents or Legal Guardians: It is against the law for parents or legal guardians to allow anyone less than 1) six years-of-age to operate an ATV, 2) sixteen years-of-age to carry a passenger and 3) sixteen years-of-age to operate an ATV in violation of the Age Restriction Warning Label affixed by the manufacturer of the ATV.
Sixteen-year-olds and younger: It is against the law for anyone sixteen years-of-age or younger to operate an ATV unless accompanied by an adult.
Fifteen-year-olds and younger: It is against the law for anyone fifteen-years-old or younger to
operate an ATV without successful completion of a “hands-on” ATV safety course approved by AVSI and without a safety helmet and eye protection.
If you get in trouble with the law and have to go to court the judge has the option of restricting the use of your driver’s license until you are 17 or 18, depending on the criminal offense.
This information was prepared to give you some general information on the law. It is not intended as legal advice about any particular problem. If you have questions about the law you should consult a lawyer. If you do not know a lawyer, you can call the South Carolina Bar Lawyer Referral Service weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The number is 799-7100 in Richland or Lexington Counties, and 1-800-868-2284 from other parts of the state.