How Can I Know if a Motorcycle Meets the Safety Requirements of My State’s Helmet Laws?
Each state has its own laws for wearing helmets. Some require all riders to wear helmets, others have age requirements, and some don’t require them at all. South Carolina requires motorcyclists of a certain age to wear helmets. It also requires you to wear a helmet if you are driving certain types of motorcycles.
South Carolina Has an Age Requirement for Motorcycle Helmets
Not every state requires every motorcycle rider to wear a helmet. In South Carolina, all riders under 21 years of age must wear a helmet.
Goggles or Face Shields are Required as Well
Goggles and face shields are only required for riders under 21 years old. Certain types of approved helmets have face shields attached. Otherwise, it’s the rider’s responsibility to wear approved types of goggles or face shields along with their helmets.
Approved Motorcycle Helmets in South Carolina
If you are older than this age and still want to wear a helmet, you don’t necessarily need to worry about it meeting state requirements because you aren’t required to wear one. If you’re still concerned about personal safety and want to make sure that your helmet is up to code, there are certain specifications to look for.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) requires that motorcycle helmets have either a neck or chin strap and have reflectors on both sides. If your motorcycle helmet meets those requirements, then you’re ready to hit the road.
If your helmet doesn’t meet all these requirements, but you’re over the age of 21 and still want to wear it for added safety, then you’re allowed to do so because helmets aren’t required.
Which Motorcycle-Type Vehicles Require Helmets?
You also need to know which vehicles motorcycle helmet laws apply to. If you have a typical two-wheel motorcycle, then this law doesn’t apply to you, but there is somewhat of a gray area for motorcycle-type vehicles.
The requirements for wearing a helmet on these vehicles vary from state to state, just like they do on motorcycles.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), vehicles that are not covered by motorcycle helmet laws in South Carolina include three-wheel vehicles and vehicles that have detachable sidecars.
Licenses Required for Motorcycle-type Vehicles
The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) says that a motorcycle license is not required to drive a three-wheeled vehicle, often called a trike. Any driver’s license except for a moped license will suffice.
In order to drive a motorcycle with a detachable sidecar, you need to have a motorcycle driver’s license.
Penalties for Not Meeting Helmet Requirements
Like any other traffic law infringement, there’s a price to pay for anyone who gets caught not following the law. Failure to wear a helmet that meets South Carolina’s requirements while riding a motorcycle under the age of 21 is a misdemeanor. The penalty for a conviction is at least a $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
Though Not Required, Motorcycle Helmets Are Recommended
Although you are not legally required to wear a helmet of any kind when riding a motorcycle in South Carolina when age 21 or older, it is still recommended for safety. Wearing a helmet at all times when riding a motorcycle or motorcycle-type vehicle is much safer and can help to avoid fines if you cross state lines.
Not Following Motorcycle Helmet Laws Could Negatively Affect Your Case in the Event of an Accident
If you’re under the age of 21 and get into a motorcycle accident, the lack of a helmet can affect your case for compensation.
If a motorcyclist struck another vehicle or pedestrian while they weren’t wearing a helmet, the court will take this into consideration. Even though they may not have been hurt in the accident, it still reflects poorly on the motorcyclist and could damage their case.
Resources for Finding Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Other States
If you’re planning on riding a motorcycle in a different state, then be sure to check that state’s motorcycle helmet laws. Resources such as this list from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) list every state’s age requirement for wearing a motorcycle helmet and which vehicles require helmets.
If you’re traveling across state lines and you’re unsure of that state’s laws, then it’s recommended to wear a motorcycle helmet when in doubt. Not only is it safer, but it could help you avoid fines or other penalties in other states.
If you’re riding a motorcycle out of South Carolina to other states, just know that the two states that border South Carolina (North Carolina and Georgia) both require all riders to wear helmets.