Introduction to South Carolina Speeding Tickets
South Carolina’s speeding law is codified in S.C. Code 56-5-1520. That statute provides for three specific levels of speeding offenses: less than ten miles an hour over the speed limit (2 points), in excess of ten miles but less than twenty-five miles an hour over the speed limit (4 points) and in excess of twenty-five miles per hour (6 points).
There are typically two options available to those who have received a Speeding Ticket. The first option is to attempt to reach a negotiated resolution and the second is to have a contested trial. Unfortunately South Carolina does not have a third option available in other states (such as a “prayer for judgment”) where a Court has the authority to suspend a ticket. There also are not special provisions to allow a ticket to be suspended for CDL holders.
The only individual with the authority to negotiate or discount a ticket will be the issuing officer. Neither the officer, or the Judge, has the authority to suspend the issuance of points or any control over how car insurance rates may be effected. The outcome of all tickets will be reported to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. They will in turn report a ticket to the appropriate motor vehicle agency for any ticketed out of state driver. Many times officers are willing, upon request, to lower a speeding violation down one or more levels for individuals who were polite (in the officer’s mind) and who come to Court.
The only time an officer may be able to offer a “no point” outcome for a speeding ticket is if they are employed by a municipality that has a “careless operation” municipal ordinance. Fines for a “careless operation” ordinance violation vary substantially by area, and may be substantially higher than a standard South Carolina speeding charge. Out of state drivers should be cautioned that their home state may interpret the municipal violation to be a worse offense than a speeding ticket and may assess points accordingly.
If you are unable to resolve your ticket through negotiation with the officer your only other option would be through a trial. You have a right to either a jury trial or a bench (judge) trial. If you are found not guilty there are no points assessed against you or any fines. If you are found guilty you may lose the benefits of any offers the officer made to you pre-trial.
In order to have a bench trial you simply report to the Court on the date and time noticed on your ticket and instruct the Judge that you are pleading “not guilty.” The Judge will then conduct your trial right then. To obtain a jury trial, which is a matter of right in South Carolina, you may provide the Court with written notice in advance of your Court date, or you may appear on the date and time noticed on your ticket and tell the Judge that you want a jury trial.
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