What to do if you get Traffic Tickets in South Carolina
When people get traffic tickets in South Carolina, it is a good idea to completely read it. Should you have any questions, contact the number on the ticket for the particular court your violation has been assigned to. It may take a day or two for your ticket to show up in the courts system, so you may be better served by waiting a few days before calling.
If you decide to pay the fine, it is considered an admission of guilt. In South Carolina you have 15 days within your court date to pay the fine. You may pay the fine by mail, in person, or many courts in South Carolina offer the option to pay the fine online.
If you decide to pay the fine, you will likely accumulate points on your driver’s license, points that may be removed by taking a defensive driving course.
A guilty plea or no contest plea will require you to pay the fine on the citation. If you wish to challenge the ticket you should choose not guilty, and schedule a court appearance. No matter what plea you choose, it must be done before the appearance date listed on the citation.
Is a Court Appearance Required?
Your citation will tell you if the violation requires a court appearance. Generally speaking minor infractions can be handled without going to court while more severe infractions will mandate an appearance.
Like many states, South Carolina uses a point system. Once you accumulate 12 points your license will be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Points eventually are removed from your driving record after one to two years. The Department of Motor Vehicles will reduce one year old points in half, two year old points will be deleted totally.
An example of this is that a four point violation would have two points deleted after a year, and the remaining two points removed after two years.
The time period for license suspensions in South Carolina will vary depending on how many points have accumulated. Accumulating 12-15 points will result in a 3 month suspension. Accumulating 16 or 17 points will increase that to a 4 month suspension. 18 or 19 points earn a 5 month license suspension, and accumulations of 20 or more points will result in a 6 month suspension.
Prior to suspension the DMV will notify you by mail you a notice of suspension. The state gives you 30 days from the date of the notice to successfully complete an provide them a certificate from an approved Drivers Safety course to qualify for a 4 point reduction and avoid your suspension.
1. Pay your Ticket
Courts in South Carolina allow you to pay minor infractions by mail or in person. Many also allow for online payments. Make sure you provide your citation when paying your ticket.
Paying your traffic fine in South Carolina is an admission of guilt. This admission of guilt waives your right to a trial and points may be added to your license. As mentioned above, accumulation of 12 or more points will lead to a license suspension. South Carolina does allow for drivers to take a defensive driving course or online traffic school to have up to a 4 point reduction. You should also be aware that depending on your insurance company, points on your driving record may result in higher car insurance premiums.
2. Plead Not Guilty and Request a Trial
South Carolina traffic tickets may be contested in court. If you believe you are innocent of your violation you may decide to plead not guilty. To start the process, notify the court listed on your citation. The court will then schedule a date for your trial. If you plead not guilty you should consider hiring legal representation and preparing your case. Preparing your case may involve subpoenaing your witness and acquiring your driving record.
If the court finds you are in fact not guilty, all penalties will be released. You will still be liable for court costs. If you are found guilty, the court will instruct you as to your penalties. Of course a guilty verdict will also result in court costs.
3. Appeal your Case
If you are found guilty, you or your attorney may file an appeal if you disagree with the verdict. An appeal will mean a judge will review your case to see if any errors were made. An appeal will involve another court appearance and of course, additional costs.
4. Take an Online Defensive Driving Course
South Carolina allows for violators to eliminate up to 4 points on their driving record by taking a state approved online defensive driving or traffic school course. By completing an online traffic school, not only may you get a point reduction on your South Carolina driver’s license, but you may even save money on your auto insurance premiums. You will also improve your driving skills and knowledge. Since points can lead to an ultimate suspension of your driver’s license, it is a good idea to consider taking this online course to eliminate points.
Complete details about the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles can be found at their website here.