Continuing in our series of articles analyzing the ATV laws in every state, which stemmed from this article, we are addressing the ATV laws in South Carolina in this article. It should also be noted that, while I am an attorney, I am not your attorney and am not giving legal advice. If you have questions, you should consult a local attorney.
How does South Carolina define an ATV?
South Carolina defines an ATV or all-terrain vehicle as “a motorized vehicle designed primarily for off-road travel on low-pressure tires which has three or more wheels and handle bars for steering, but does not include lawn tractors, battery-powered children’s toys, or a vehicle that is required to be licensed or titled for highway.” ATVs in South Carolina includes both type I-single passenger all-terrain vehicles (what we call ATVs, quads or four wheelers) and type II-tandem passenger all-terrain vehicles (what we call UTVs, side by sides or ROVs).
Are you required to title and register your ATV or UTV in South Carolina?
You may register your ATV or UTV in South Carolina and receive a title by submitting the following documents and payments to the DMV.
- Completed Application for Title (SCDMV Form 400) .
- Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin or previous title properly assigned to the applicant.
- $15 fee.
- Sales tax.
While you are not required to title your ATV or UTV in South Carolina, we always recommend you do title it as it can make the reselling process so much easier, and because it can help you in the event your ATV gets stolen.
South Carolina has fairly generous youth restrictions except when it comes to the size of the ATV being operated. On average, 6 children die and 450 are injured every year using ATVs in South Carolina. The big effort to reduce these numbers is the recognition that 95% of fatalities nationwide involve youth operating adult-sized ATVs. With that in mind, you can easily understand the youth restrictions in South Carolina, some of which are quite different than most other states.
The following regulations apply to youth operators of ATVs and UTVs in South Carolina on both public and private lands.
- No youth under the age of 6 is permitted to operate an ATV or UTV in South Carolina.
- No youth under the age of 16, and without a driver’s license, may carry a passenger on an ATV or UTV, unless that passenger is an adult.
- It is unlawful in South Dakota to remove from an ATV or UTV the manufacturer Age Restriction Warning Label required by ANSI/SVIA.
- No youth under the age of 16 may operate an ATV or UTV in violation of the manufacturer Age Restriction Warning Label required by ANSI/SVIA.
- Any youth operator under the age of 16 must possess a safety certificate indicating successful completion of a “hands-on” all-terrain vehicle safety course approved by the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute.
- Any youth operator under the age of 16 may not operate an ATV or UTV without wearing a helmet. We recommend everyone wear a helmet and this O’Neal helmet is our favorite combination of quality and value.
- Any youth operator under the age of 16 may not operate an ATV or UTV without proper eye protection. We recommend Oakley goggles as we have seen them save people from pretty gnarly injuries (like a bolt to the eye) with great results. This is our favorite pair because it is a great value.
The following regulations apply to youth operating ATVs or UTVs on public land only.
- A person under the age of 16 may not operate an ATV or UTV unless they are accompanied by an adult.
South Carolina ATV/UTV Equipment Requirements
The following equipment requirements apply to ATVs and UTVs operated on public land in South Carolina.
- If you are riding one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, your ATV or UTV must be equipped with illuminated headlights.
- Your ATV or UTV must have an effective muffler system in good working condition
- Your ATV or UTV must have a USDA Forest Service approved spark arrester in good working condition.
- Your ATV or UTV must have a brake system in good operating condition
South Carolina Taxes on ATVs/UTVs
As of 2011, ATVs and UTVs are exempt from ad valorem personal property taxes in South Carolina.
- It is unlawful to cross any watercourse on an ATV or UTV except at a designated ford, crossing, bridge, or if the watercourse is bisected by a trail
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV in a reckless manner.
Exemptions from Regulations
The ATV and UTV regulations in South Carolina do not apply to the following exempt parties.
- Farming. An owner, operator, lessor, or renter of a farm or ranch, or that person’s employees, immediate family, or household members, when operating an ATV or UTV while engaged in farming, wildlife habitat management, or ranching operations.
- Hunting. A person using an ATV or UTV for hunting or trapping purposes if the person otherwise is lawfully engaged in those activities.
- Minors on Private Property. A minor, between six years of age and sixteen years of age, who is operating an ATV or UTV on private property under the direct visual supervision of his parent or an individual with legal custody of the minor.