Are you looking to ride a motorcycle in the Palmetto State, as South Carolina is popularly known? If you are, you should get a motorcycle license before you head out on the open road.
To apply for a South Carolina motorcycle license, you must be at least 15 years of age. You can apply for it at the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV).
To get a Class M motorcycle license, you must pass an on-cycle motorcycle skills exam and a knowledge exam or take a motorcycle safety education course. If you are under 18, you must also complete a driver’s education and driving course.
Additionally, you must first get a motorcycle permit if you are under 18 years old and don’t have a standard driver’s license.
Table of contents
- Applying for a motorcycle license in SC
- Motorcycle license renewal
- Getting a motorcycle learner’s permit
- Is motorcycle insurance mandatory in South Carolina?
- Do you need a motorcycle license to drive a trike in SC?
- Important motorcycle laws you should know.
Applying for a motorcycle license in SC
In South Carolina, a Class M motorcycle license allows you to drive any motorcycle, including two- and three-wheeled motorcycles with a sidecar.
Note: If you want to operate only motorcycles with a sidecar, you must have an S3 restriction with your Class M license. Then, you must ride a motorcycle with a sidecar.
Motorcycle riders can apply for an SC Class M license if they are at least 15 years old.
You must visit your local DMV office to apply for a Class M license. Schedule an appointment first.
You must bring along a completed license application. And documents that prove your identity, citizenship, Social Security Number (SSN), and SC residency. Here is the full list of acceptable documents.
You must also carry your motorcycle and proof of motorcycle registration and insurance. Don’t forget your motorcycle permit if it is needed (details given below). You should also have proof of insurance.
Then, you have to take and pass a written test and a motorcycle road test. You will also need to pass a vision test. And then pay the licensing fee (currently $25).
Alternatively, the DMV will waive the motorcycle road skills test if you have completed a motorcycle education course or a motorcycle safety course. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation also offers such courses. In this case, you have to show the certificate of completion when you apply for a Class M license.
Note: If you fail the Class M motorcycle license test three times, you cannot retake the test again at any SCDMV branch. After the third attempt, you must take and pass an SCDMV-approved motorcycle safety course to get the license.
If you are under 18 years of age
Along with the above, riders under 18 years have to fulfill additional requirements. They are as follows:
- You must get a motorcycle instruction permit first and hold it for 180 days. Then, after that, you can apply for a motorcycle license. But this can be waived if you already have a valid driver’s license.
- You must have the written consent of your parent or legal guardian.
- If you are under 17 years, you must attend and pass a course from a driver’s education school. You should also show proof of school attendance.
If you are over 18 years but have never held a standard driver’s license
In this case, a new rider must have to get a motorcycle beginner’s permit first. You can apply for a motorcycle license once you have held the permit for 180 days.
Motorcycle license renewal
Your SC motorcycle license is valid for eight years. You can renew it online, by mail, or in person before it expires. If it has expired for nine months or more, you have to retake the license tests.
But license holders who are younger than 17 years of age or older than 65 years of age have to renew their licenses and endorsements once every five years.
A license with a validity of five years currently costs $12.50. And a license with a validity of eight years costs $25.
Getting a motorcycle learner’s permit
In South Carolina, the minimum age to apply for a motorcycle beginner’s permit is 15 years old.
To apply for one at the local DMV, you have to make an appointment first. On that day, you have to take along a completed application for a permit. And documents that include your birth certificate, SSN, and two proofs of South Carolina residency.
If you are under 18 years, you need written proof of consent from your parent or legal. If you are under 17 years, you must have proof of school attendance and completion of driver’s education. You also need to show valid South Carolina motorcycle insurance.
Then, you will need to pass a vision exam and a written motorcycle knowledge test. The test has multiple-choice questions.
Then, pay the necessary fees. It is currently $2 for the motorcycle knowledge exam and $2.50 for a motorcycle instruction permit.
Once you get the permit, you must hold it for a minimum of 180 days before applying for a full motorcycle license.
Note: A motorcycle beginner’s permit cannot be renewed more than three times. After the third time, you have to attempt to pass the road skills exam before your permit is renewed.
Is motorcycle insurance mandatory in South Carolina?
Yes. South Carolina requires all motorcyclists to carry insurance. It should meet certain minimum coverage limits. They are as follows:
- $25,000 in bodily injury per person.
- $50,000 in total bodily injury per accident.
- $25,000 in property damage per accident.
South Carolina also requires you to carry uninsured motorist coverage. This will protect you if you are in an accident with a driver who has no insurance. It should have a minimum coverage that covers the same amounts as given above.
Do you need a motorcycle license to drive a trike in SC?
Suppose you have a three-wheel motorcycle or trike. In that case, it is not mandatory to have a Class M driver’s license (motorcycle endorsement) to drive it. In South Carolina, you can legally drive a trike with any license except a Class G moped license.
Important motorcycle laws you should know.
The state has many motorcycle laws. You can read up on them here. But here are some important ones.
- Motorcycles are required to follow all of the same laws as cars.
- South Carolina law states that all riders under the age of 21 must wear a helmet and eye protection while driving a motorcycle. The helmets must be approved by the Department of Public Safety, with a neck or chin strap and reflectors on both sides.
- You cannot operate a motorcycle while carrying any package that will prevent you from keeping both hands on the handlebars.
- All motorcycles must have rear-view mirrors while being driven on public roads.
- Lane splitting is illegal in South Carolina. However, South Carolina does permit two motorcycles to ride side by side within the same lane.
So, how can you get a motorcycle license in South Carolina? By taking and passing an on-cycle skills exam and a knowledge exam. If you are under the age of 18, you must also complete a driver’s education and driving course.
Alternatively, you can take a motorcycle safety education course. This course is a license waiver, meaning you won’t have to take the motorcycle skills test.