Skip to Main Content

Circuit Riders: Local Ordinances

Basic Legal Research Guide

Municipal Ordinances


Municipal or local ordinances are enacted by county, city, and town councils for their municipalities only. Municipal ordinances address local issues such as building codes, garbage and other environmental issues, as well as noise and other nuisances.


Municipal ordinances have the full effect of law as long as they are not preempted or conflict with state law.Decorative For example, in its 2010 Aakjer v. City of Myrtle Beach opinion, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that a City of Myrtle Beach ordinance requiring all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet was preempted by state law, which only requires  helmets for riders under twenty-one.

Other examples of ordinances enacted across South Carolina include the following:

Chapter 8, Article III of the Code of Ordinances for the City of Columbia governs noise. Section 8-67 deals with radios, phonographs, musical instruments, and other sound-amplifying devices. 

The City of Beaufort prohibits smoking in enclosed public places and in places of employment. Section 67-5005 of the Beaufort Code of Ordinances also prohibits smoking in certain outdoor areas.

Offenses Against Public Morals
Title XIII, Section 133.05 of the Folly Beach Code of Ordinances prohibits tattoo and body piercing businesses within its corporate limits as being against public morals.

Finding Municipal Ordinances

The Municipal Code Corporation and American Legal Publishing Corporation maintain online libraries of searchable city and county ordinances by state. Most South Carolina cities use one of these two databases to publish their ordinances online.

For example, the City of Columbia's website sends you to Municode, while the Folly Beach website directs citizens to American Legal Publishing for its ordinances. Below are videos on how to use Municode and American Legal Publishing to research municipal ordinances.

If a city or county in South Carolina does not use Municode or American Legal Publishing, it should provide access to its ordinances on its website. The South Carolina Association of Counties maintains a page with links to county government websites, while the Municipal Association of South Carolina provides a Municipal Directory with links to the website for each municipality. If a city or town's ordinances are not available through its website, you may be able to get a copy emailed to you. Your last resort is a trip to the city or county clerk's office to view a physical copy of the ordinances.

Using Municode

Using American Legal