Obscure South Carolina Traffic Laws – What You Don’t Know May Cost You

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    Driving tends to be a relatively routine experience, and if you are anything like me, unless you were recently pulled over, you probably weren’t aware of some of the lesser-known rules controlling South Carolina’s roadways.  Sadly however, saying “I forgot” or “I didn’t know” is not going to be a good enough excuse to get you out of a ticket if you ever get stopped, so here is a refresher course since getting your license.

    Obscure South Carolina Traffic Laws – What You Don’t Know May Cost You

    1. Passing is prohibited in highway work zones.

    SC Code Ann § 56-5-1895 states that “No vehicle may be driven so as to overtake and pass another vehicle in a highway work zone where road maintenance or construction work is underway and passing would be hazardous to the highway worker.”

    We have all made fun of the six guys holding up shovels while one guy works in the ditch.  But think about whether you would like to work with your back to traffic traveling at 70 MPH while trying to perform your job.  While this statute may seem like just more government bureaucracy, highway workers already operate under extremely dangerous conditions, so this law makes perfect sense. Changing lanes and the relative speeds of vehicles are often the cause of accidents, and highway workers focusing on their job are especially vulnerable as unprotected pedestrians.  Nevertheless, passing in work zones occurs routinely.  Next time you get the urge to pass, think about the guy in the ditch working to keep our roads safe, and keep in mind that tickets in work zones often come with hefty fines. Let ‘em work…let ‘em live.

    1. It is illegal to cruise in the left lane.


    SC Code SECTION 56-5-1810 states that “Upon all roadways any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane…”

    Come on people!  Nobody is trying to hit you with a fine for driving the speed limit, but trust me, if you are driving slowly in the left lane, some drivers may consider hitting you with the “bird.” I realize that you may want to right the wrongs of this world and keep everybody a safe speed, but camping out in the fast lane with your Coexist sticker may not be your best means of protest.  The left lane is intended to be used only for passing or turning left. If this rule is followed correctly, traffic flow will increase drastically and the only birds you will see flying will be in the air.


      1. Inappropriate Bumper Stickers are prohibited

      SC Code 56-5-3885 states that “No person may operate a motor vehicle in this State which has affixed or attached to any part of the motor vehicle which is visible to members of the public not occupying the vehicle any sticker, decal, emblem, or other device containing obscene or indecent words, photographs, or depictions.”

      A quality joke on a bumper sticker is always appreciated, but taking it to far could land you a ticket. While rarely enforced, bumper stickers displaying obscene images, private parts or profanity are subject to a ticket. Besides, nobody wants to see that.  Think of the kids will you? The enforcement of this law is purely up to the officer’s discretion, so just hope that the officer behind you has a good sense of humor. It is always safe to assume that the officer will not be amused, so keep your “special” memes to your texts and emails. Otherwise you may end up paying for more than that broken tail light.

      1. Drivers must move over or slow down for stopped emergency vehicles

      SC Code 56-5-1538 states that “Drivers approaching a temporary work zone or an emergency scene are required by law to: Yield the right of way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the temporary work vehicle or equipment if on a highway with at least four lanes, with at least two lanes proceeding in the same direction”

      I know what you are thinking – if law enforcement has already stopped somebody on the side of the road, you get a free pass to inch the speedometer up a few ticks. However, if you want to avoid a big surcharge on your speeding ticket, you may want to rethink your situation. Anytime any sort of emergency vehicle is pulled over on the side of the road with their lights on, drivers are required to move to the far lane if possible, and if not possible, to slow down to a reasonable speed. When stopped on the side of the road, first responders are often dangerously close to moving traffic. For some reason inattentive drivers tend to be led to blue-lights like a moth to a flame.  This law serves to protect the people who are fighting to protect us, so slow your roll and give them a little room to breathe. Besides, you may avoid making the evening news as the guy who drives into the back of the trooper’s car.

      1. Head lights are required to be on in the rain

      SC Code 56-5-4450 states that “Every vehicle upon a street or highway within this State shall display lighted lamps and illuminating devices, excluding parking lights, from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise, and at any other time when windshield wipers are in use as a result of rain, sleet, or snow, or when inclement weather or environmental factors severely reduce the ability to clearly discern persons and vehicles…”

      Rain and hazardous weather drastically reduce visibility while driving, making it difficult to see that car approaching you on an overcast day. I would hope this law would just be common sense. However, people often neglect to turn their lights on in hazardous weather simply because it is daytime. Turning on your lights could make the difference between making it home to watch the Clemson game or ending up injured at the emergency room. More importantly, having your lights on could help you catch a glimpse of the elusive North American Sasquatch.

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