New rules for mopeds, golf carts start November 19

Moped riders must comply with new state safety and registration requirements beginning November 19, and illegal golf cart driving now carries a state penalty.  The changes are thanks to the South Carolina General Assembly, which approved the new laws. 

Most of the changes affect moped riders, owners, renters and the companies that sell them.  For golf cart operators, the big change is the reappearance of a state fine (up to 100 or 30 days in jail) for driving a golf cart illegally on public streets.  The fine was inadvertently omitted some years ago, but has now been restored.

Here are the new requirements for moped operators and companies that rent or sell them.  A violation of any of these is subject to a state fine of up to $200 or 30 days in jail.  Among the highlights, mopeds must now be registered (registration started November 1), and a valid moped license or driver’s license is required to operate a moped on a public street.  Further, mopeds can’t drive more than 35 miles per hour, and they must drive in the right lane unless it’s unsafe to do so.  Moped operators and riders under age 21 also must wear a helmet.    

  • Mopeds must be registered and licensed; the state will issue a special license tag. 

  • Need a valid moped operator’s license or a valid driver’s license to operate a moped.

  • No property taxes or insurance required for mopeds.

  • Vehicles must be properly registered according to description and class.

  • Moped owners must apply to the state for registration and licensing. 

  • The application must be accompanied by bill of sale or proof of ownership, along with the vehicle’s specifications. 

  • Some mopeds may be titled, if the owner so requests and can provide the manufacturer’s certificate of origin. 

  • Non-residents’ mopeds may be operated for up to 180 days without a registration or license, if they are duly registered in the person’s home state and so display that registration.

  • Violations are misdemeanors under state law.

  • Mopeds may not carry more people than the number which was designed and intended by the manufacturer.

  • On a multi-lane highway, a moped must be operated in the far right lane, except when making a left turn or when travel in the farthest right lane is unsafe. 

  • Moped operators and riders under the age of 21 must wear a protective helmet identical to motorcycle helmet requirements in Section 56-5-3660. 

  • Mopeds may not be operated in excess of thirty-five miles per hour.

  • Mopeds may not operate on any road with a speed limit greater than 55 miles per hour.

  • Operational lights and headlights must be turned on at all times the moped is in operation. 

  • Moped violations are misdemeanors, subject to a fine of up to $200 or up to 30 days. 

  • A person selling mopeds shall post, in a conspicuous place in his business, a sign that contains a brief explanation of the provisions of law governing the operation of mopeds, including, but not limited to, age restrictions, maximum speeds, and the definition of a moped.  Seller is not required to have a motor vehicle dealer’s license.

  • Mopeds for sale, lease or rent mopeds are required to have: 

    (1) operable pedals, if the moped is equipped with pedals;

    (2) at least one rearview mirror;

    (3) operable headlights and running lights; and

    (4) brake lights which are operable when either brake is deployed.

Golf cart regulations have not changed, except for the renewed state fine (up to $100 or 30 days in jail) for violations.  Briefly, to drive on public roads, golf carts must be registered with the DMV and insured.  Golf carts may be driven on secondary streets where the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less, but not on primary streets (Kings Highway or US 501, for example).  Golf carts may be driven only within four miles of the registered address, only during daylight hours and only by a licensed driver.  They may not be driven after dark. 

By the way, the new legislation also states that the SC DMV must withhold vehicle registration or driver’s license renewal unless personal property taxes have been paid on time.  For more information or to register a moped, go to