South Carolina Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

Learn about driving provisions and special programs focused on keeping both South Carolina's older drivers and roadways safe.

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The myriad rules and regulations enforced by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) apply to drivers of all ages and stages.

But some of the legal controls discussed here, such as possible restrictions on a driver's license and procedures for securing disability parking plates and placards, may be especially relevant for older drivers. South Carolina also specifically requires drivers age 65 and older to renew more frequently than younger drivers in some situations.

License Renewal Rules for Older Drivers in South Carolina

Special rules apply to drivers who are 65 and older who seek to renew their licenses.

Time limits: Drivers age 65 and older must renew every five years; those under 65 may renew for five years by mail—or ten years in person at a local DMV office.

Vision test: A vision test is only necessary for a beginner's permit or driver's license or if you moved out of the state and have returned to South Carolina. DMV personnel will conduct a test free, or drivers can have an exam performed by an outside licensed eye care professional, who must complete a written form. If the DMV requires additional information, it may request an additional exam by an eye care professional, who must complete and submit a Report of Vision Screening for Non-Commercial Beginner Permits or Driver's Licenses.

Written test: May be required at the discretion of DMV personnel.

Road test: May be required at the discretion of DMV personnel.

Possible License Restrictions

The DMV can place restrictions or conditions on a person's driver's license after administering a driving test and discussing possible restrictions with him or her.

The most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses.

In South Carolina, other common requirements the DMV may impose on older drivers include:

  • no freeway driving
  • no nighttime driving, and
  • time of day restrictions—for example, no driving during rush hour traffic.

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation in South Carolina

The South Carolina DMV will accept information from courts, police officers, and other DMV personnel about an individual's potentially unsafe driving.

Unlike most states, it does not have a set procedure for family members, friends, and other concerned individuals to report that a driver may be unsafe behind the wheel.

For more information, try contacting a local DMV office or the South Carolina Driver Improvement Office; P.O. Box 1498; Columbia, SC 29216.

How to Get a License Reinstated

For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in South Carolina, contact one of the DMV offices located throughout the state.

How to Get Parking Placards or License Plates for a Disabled Driver

Disabled person parking placards and license plates can be issued to drivers with impaired mobility if a licensed medical practitioner certifies the condition.

The placards and plates are available for those who:

  • cannot walk 100 feet without aggravating an existing medical condition or being in pain
  • cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device
  • are severely restricted by lung disease
  • use portable oxygen
  • have a severe cardiac condition
  • are severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition, or
  • are blind.

To obtain a disabled placard or plate:

  • Complete and sign a Disabled Placard and License Plate Application.
  • Have a licensed physician complete the Physician's Statement section of the application.
  • Include a fee of $36 for a disabled plate; $1 for a disabled parking placard.
  • Mail the original application to the address on the form.

Learn More About South Carolina Driving Rules for Seniors

The DMV website has a wealth of information for South Carolina drivers, including licensing and vehicle registration requirements. Of special interest is the downloadable "Driver's Manual," which contains descriptions of DMV requirements and local rules of the road, as well as driving tips for older drivers.

Where to Find a Lawyer for Help

You can use Nolo's Lawyer Directory to find a local lawyer experienced in representing older people who need help with auto accidents or traffic tickets in South Carolina

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