person on moped

Because license and insurance requirements in South Carolina depend on the type of motor scooter you have, it’s important to know the differences before you hit the road, so you can avoid a hefty ticket.

What’s the Difference Between a Scooter, Moped, and Motorcycle?

In South Carolina, motorcycles and mopeds are both considered categories of motor scooters. Any scooter too powerful to be considered a moped is legally classified as a motorcycle. After an update to the legal code in November 2018, the legal definitions for a moped and motorcycle are as follows:

A moped has:

  • Between two and three wheels
  • An engine with less than 50 cc (combustion) OR between 750-1500 watts (electric)
  • A maximum speed of 30 mph
  • Automatic transmission

A motorcycle has:

  • Between two and three wheels
  • An engine with more than 50 cc (combustion) OR more than 1500 watts (electric)
  • A maximum speed over 30 mph

What License Do I Need for a Moped in South Carolina?

Mopeds don’t require a special license to operate so long as you already have a driver’s license. If you don’t have a driver’s license, you can apply for a special moped only (Class G) license, which unlike a motorcycle license, does not require a road skills test.

Mopeds do have to be registered with the state, but they do not have to be titled and do not require insurance.

South Carolina has a statewide speed limit for mopeds of 25 mph, and mopeds cannot be driven on public roads with posted speeds limits of 55 mph or above, which means most highways.

What License Do I Need for a Motorcycle in South Carolina?

South Carolina requires motorcyclists to obtain a special license (Class M) before riding on public roads – just holding a standard driver’s license isn’t enough.

Before applying for a motorcycle license, you will first need to apply for a permit, which allows you to ride unaccompanied during the day, or accompanied by someone with a full motorcycle license at night. Once you’ve held your permit for at least 180 days, you will be able to apply for a full license, which requires a road skills test.

If you already have a valid driver’s license, you may attempt to pass the motorcycle knowledge and road skills test in the same day without getting a permit first. If you pass, you will get a motorcycle endorsement added to your driver’s license.

Motorcycles must be registered and titled with the state. You are also required to get a motorcycle insurance policy.

The Exception to the License Rule

If you have a “trike” (three-wheeled motorcycle), you are not required to get a motorcycle license as long as you have a standard driver’s license. However, you still cannot ride a trike with only a moped license: you should have either a driver’s license or motorcycle license.

Injured in a Motorcycle or Moped Accident? We Can Help.

Because motorcycles and mopeds are much smaller than other vehicles, they often fall into other vehicles’ blind spots. Additionally, because mopeds are much slower than other vehicles, they have a harder time accelerating out of the path of other vehicles.

This means that motorcyclists and scooter riders are at a higher risk of being involved in an accident anytime they ride on public roads, but none of that excuses drivers from failing to pay attention and causing accidents when they collide with motorcyclists and scooter riders.

If you’ve been seriously injured while out on your bike or scooter because someone else was negligent, you deserve compensation. Contact our experienced South Carolina motorcycle accident attorneys today to talk about what we can do for you.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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