Understanding Seat Belt Laws in South Carolina

Seat belt laws have been progressively developing since the 1960s as society has focused more on motor vehicle safety. Today, seat belt usage is mandated by most states with legal penalties for those who get cited for not using them.

Not only can failure to use a seat belt result in a traffic violation, but it can also impact your claim if you are involved in a car accident. To learn more, contact Ryan Montgomery Law for a free case review.

South Carolina Seat Belt Laws

South Carolina law (Section 56-5-6520) mandates that every driver and every passenger in a motor vehicle must use a seat belt when the vehicle is being operated on public streets and highways. The safety belt must be fastened and comply with provisions of federal law for its use.

Who Is Responsible for Seat Belt Usage in a Car?

The driver of a motor vehicle is responsible for requiring every person under the age of 18 to wear a seat belt while the car is in operation.

The driver is not responsible for occupants who are age 17 or younger if they have a driver’s license or beginner’s permit. If such a person is found to be without a seat belt, they can be individually fined pursuant to South Carolina laws Section 56-5-6540.

Is Failure to Wear a Seat Belt a Primary Offense?

Yes. In South Carolina, the safety belt law is a primary enforcement violation. That means that a police officer can pull over a motorist for not wearing a seat belt and only cite the for a safety belt violation. The police officer must have an unobstructed view of the driver or passenger in the motor vehicle who was not wearing a safety belt or not secured in a child restraint system.

What Is the Fine for Failure to Wear a Safety Belt?

In South Carolina, a person who fails to wear a seat belt or a driver who does not ensure a minor is properly secured is subject to a fine of not more than $25 for each offense. A person may not be fined more than $50 for any one incident of more than one violation.

Exceptions to South Carolina’s Seat Belt Law

There are some exceptions to South Carolina’s seat belt mandate. The law does not apply to:

  • Drivers or passengers who have written verification from a doctor that they cannot wear a seat belt for medical reasons
  • Medical and rescue personnel attending to patients in an emergency vehicle
  • School, church, and day care buses
  • Public transportation (except taxis)
  • Vehicles in parades
  • Mail carriers
  • An occupant for which no seat belt is available because all belts are being used by other passengers
  • A vehicle that is not equipped with safety belts

How Can Not Wearing a Seat Belt Impact My Car Accident Claim?

In addition to receiving a traffic citation and paying a fine, there could be an additional impact failure to wear a seat belt may have if you are involved in a car accident.

If you are severely injured in a crash and you were not wearing a seat belt, the insurance company may say your injuries are more severe because of the lack of seat belt. They may try to partially blame you for the situation. This could reduce the total amount of compensation you are awarded.

South Carolina uses a comparative negligence law that states the plaintiff in a car accident lawsuit must be less than 51% responsible for damages in order to be eligible for financial recovery. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may try to claim that your injuries were primarily caused by your failure to wear a seat belt. It’s necessary to work with an experienced car accident lawyer who can refuse these claims and help you get the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.

Call Ryan Montgomery Law After a Car Crash

Whether you were wearing a seat belt or not, you should contact car accident lawyer Ryan Montgomery after a crash. He will evaluate your situation and help you file an insurance claim. He will make sure the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you and they pay you what you deserve. Call today at (864) 406-3776.