A few years ago counties around South Carolina began establish the Traffic Education Program (also called TEP). This program is designed to help drivers who have received a routine traffic ticket keep their driving record clean and avoid points.
This sounds great, but the reality is that TEP is considered by many to be a huge hassle. For this reason it isn’t right for everyone.
In order to even be allowed to enter the TEP program both the prosecutor and judge must agree to the referral. The prosecutor for most traffic tickets is going to be the officer who wrote the ticket. That referral usually happens in traffic court, meaning that you may have to take of work or travel back to South Carolina in order to even ask about the program.
If the TEP referral is made case is then forwarded to the county Solicitor’s office. They supervise the program and ensure all of the program requirements are completed. Those requirements include:
- Payment of $280 participation fees (the court does not collect the original fine)
- Completion of eight hours of community service (volunteering at a non-profit)
- Completion of a driving training program (online options may be available). There is an additional cost for this program (usually <$75).
- No subsequent tickets for six months
After the requirements are completed the ticket is dismissed. No points are assessed.
As you can see, this is a significant process. Drivers will spend much more on fees than the cost of the original ticket, and then there are the time requirements from the community service and the driving training program.
Not all routine traffic tickets are eligible. The ticket must carry 4 of few points in order to be eligible. For example more serious speeding tickets don’t qualify (Our lawyers have had success in getting speeding tickets reduced in court to allow for TEP participation, so if you have a big speeding ticket don’t give up all hope!).
So is this program right for you?
This program may be overkill unless you have a real need for a clean driving record.
If a clean driving record is important to you or your employer, then TEP might be right for you. Truck drivers, pilots, and certain delivery drivers can benefit.
Those who have accumulated other tickets and are at a risk of a point suspension can also benefit.
If you have a clean record, and have only received your ticket (especially if it is a 2 point minimum level), then you might consider TEP to be more trouble than its worth.
Should you hire a lawyer to help with your ticket?
If you have received a minimum level (2 point ticket, for speeding tickets there is a fine of about $85), this has already been reduced to the lowest level possible. Hiring a lawyer won’t help you with a further reduction, but may help you obtain entrance into the Traffic Education Program. A lawyer can also help you fully contest the ticket in court, where you have a chance of being found not-guilty.Some professional truck drivers also have found that they can benefit from getting a 2 point ticket reduced by having the speed lowered to under 5 MPH over the limit - this also may be beneficial for drivers from out of state depending on your home state's law (unfortunately we are unable to provide any information on laws for states other than South Carolina).
If you have a more serious ticket (4 or 6 point, where the fine is usually listed as $100 or more), then a lawyer may be able to help you obtain a reduction, entrance into the Traffic Education Program, or fully contest it in court.
If you have a serious offenses such as DUI, driving under suspension, reckless driving, hit & run, unlawfully passing a school bus, or failure to stop for a blue light then you should definitely consult with a lawyer prior to your court date.
The Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, provides representation for those who have received South Carolina traffic tickets. General information regarding traffic tickets can be found on our website. If you believe that a lawyer may help, we invite you to contact our office regarding obtaining representation. Most of the times we are engaged for traffic tickets over the phone without the need for you to miss work or travel to our office for a consultation.
If you would prefer to meet with an attorney in person regarding a traffic offense then we are happy to schedule a fee based appointment (free in-office consultations are not available for routine traffic tickets). During the fee based appointment you would receive an opportunity to fully explain the circumstances of your ticket, and be able to ask any questions that you may have.