Too Fast for Conditions - South Carolina's "Catch All" Traffic Ticket

Highway Patrol and other police officers in South Carolina routinely charge people with driving too fast for conditions after an accident. This charge is frequently overused by law enforcement and given to drivers who are not guilty of the offense.

All drivers understand that they have a legal duty to ensure that they do not drive at an excessive rate of speed. On days with regular traffic and weather conditions the lawful maximum driving speed should be the posted speed limit. During times of inclement weather or unusual traffic conditions though the law requires that drivers lower their speed to a safer level.

Many police officers believe that when they respond to an accident scene that they must write at least one driver a ticket. This is even though common sense tells us that accidents can happen for a variety of reasons - not all of which are illegal or unsafe driving. In fact South Carolina law is clear that police officers should not charge someone just because there was an accident.S.C. Code § 56-5-6170 states as follows:

No police officer in investigating a traffic accident shall necessarily deem the fact that an accident has occurred as giving rise to the presumption that a violation of the law has occurred.

I have represent numerous drivers who have been charged with driving too fast for conditions after an accident. The prosecutor's idea has been that if they were in fact going slower the accident could have been avoided. But to prove their case the prosecution needs to establish both a special hazard that was existing and some evidence of speed.

Police officers are also not automatically qualified in the field of accident reconstruction. This means that although they can testify in Court as to what they observed when they arrived at an accident scene they can't opine as to how the accident occurred. A proper objection should exclude police testimony regarding the cause of skid marks and the impact necessary to cause visible vehicle damage.

When someone who is charged with too fast for conditions appears in Court, pleads not-guilty and then points out to the Court the lack of proper evidence they may stand a good chance of winning their case.


The Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, is available to represent drivers, out of state motorists and CDV holders who have received a South Carolina Ticket. If you have received a ticket you would like to challenge or contest, or a speeding ticket you want reduced, contact his office at 1-888-301-6004.
Categories: Traffic Law Offenses

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