Legal Rights of 17-Year-Olds in South Carolina

By Jonita Davis

In every state within the U.S., a minor is a child who is younger than 18 years of age. Minors’ rights are heavily restricted under the premise that one has to reach a certain age of majority before rights are granted. However, not all minors are at the mercy of their parents. In fact, 17-year-olds hold a few rights in the state of South Carolina that are protected by the state legal code.

Medical Consent

In South Carolina, a 17-year-old has the right to consent or deny treatments or tests on his own body. Parents cannot override these rights without going to court and proving the 17-year-old patient unfit to make his own medical decisions. These rights extend to consent after death, the 17-year-old has the right to refuse or consent to donating body parts, refusing resuscitation or performing diagnostics on the body.


At age 17, the South Carolina teen has the right to a full driver’s license. If the teen is receiving the license for the first time, it will be a permit and then a restricted driver’s license. With it, he can drive alone during the day or with one passenger under age 21. Driving at night or with more than on minor passenger requires an adult over the age of 21 in the car. After a year of good driving (no accidents or tickets), the teen receives a full license. The minimum age for receiving a license with full privileges is 17.

Reproductive Rights

Many states have passed legislation protecting the legal rights of teen girls. South Carolina is not different. The 17-year-old has the right to seek and receive birth control without parental consent. She can also seek prenatal care, adoption for the child or medical care for the infant after birth, all without consent from the parents. The state does require parental consent for abortions.


Teens who seek to control their own finances, living arrangements and to receive the rights of an adult have the right to petition the courts for emancipation. Emancipated minors are legally granted the rights of a mature adult. The teen must prove to the court that he is financially responsible, having a means to provide food, shelter and other needs without parental support.

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