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How to Beat a Speeding Ticket in South Carolina

How to Beat a Speeding Ticket in South Carolina

How to Beat a Speeding Ticket in South Carolina

When you think of a crime, a traffic citation probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. While many people may be surprised to learn that running a red light on their way to work is considered a crime under South Carolina law, it’s important to understand that traffic violations may be tried in criminal court like other criminal offenses.

Facing any criminal charge, even a traffic violation, can result in fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension. Regardless of the severity of the traffic offense you’ve been charged with, it’s wise to seek legal counsel from a qualified criminal defense attorney who can advise your next steps and represent your best interests in court.

A skilled lawyer can advocate on your behalf and ensure that your rights are protected under the law, whether that entails having unlawful evidence dismissed from your case or dropping charges altogether.

Traffic Laws in South Carolina

Speeding tickets aren’t exactly a rare occurrence. According to the National Motorists Association, more than 34 million people receive speeding tickets each year in the U.S. Receiving a speeding ticket may not be a big deal for everyone, especially for those who lack prior offenses or were complying with other traffic laws at the time of the incident (such as driving with a valid license and wearing a seatbelt).

While some Americans perceive a speeding citation as a minor inconvenience, it’s worth noting that the majority of speeding offenses are considered misdemeanors in South Carolina. In some circumstances, a misdemeanor offense can lead to jail time and/or license suspension.

Speeding is considered a strict liability offense under South Carolina law, meaning that you may still be convicted even if the violation was inadvertent, accidental, or unintentional. Fortunately, there are ways to defend against a traffic violation in court.

The most effective legal strategy to defend against a speeding citation will depend on your personal circumstances. Because the law enforcement officer who administered the citation retains sole authority to reduce or dismiss the charge, it’s always best to consult with a qualified South Carolina criminal defense attorney who can counsel you and recommend the best path forward to drop or reduce the charges.

Because legal fees to fully contest a speeding ticket can significantly exceed the amount of the fine (with no guarantee of success), most people who hire lawyers do so to ask about a dismissal or in the alternative to ask the ticket to be reduced to the lowest available level. A reduction can still help save hundreds of dollars in fines and thousands of dollars in increased insurance rates. 

Challenging a Speeding Ticket in Court

There are various strategies to defend against speeding violations in South Carolina courts. Common defenses include:

  • The police officer didn’t use the laser/radar equipment properly. In some instances, an officer may not be properly trained to use their radar gun correctly.
  • The police officer’s laser/radar equipment lacked proper certifications or was defective. Like all technology, the devices used by law enforcement aren’t immune to malfunction. If a laser or radar isn’t in working order, you may succeed in getting the charges dropped.
  • The police officer clocked the wrong car. It isn’t unheard of for law enforcement to ticket the wrong vehicle, as it can be difficult to locate a specific car in traffic after clocking them from a stationary position.
  • The speed limit sign was missing or damaged. If there wasn’t a sign signaling a reduction in speed (or if the sign wasn’t upright and visible due to a storm or strong winds), this may be grounds to get the speeding violation dismissed.

When Is Speeding a Major Offense?

The penalties for a speeding citation typically aren’t severe. Most drivers will pay a fine and accrue 2-6 point violations. However, there are instances where penalties can be enhanced, such as:

  • Driving under suspension (DUS). Under S.C. Code §56-1-460, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a suspended driver’s license. First offenders can face up to 30 days in jail and a fine, while second offenders may face up to 60 days in jail. Third and subsequent offenses can result in imprisonment of up to 6 months. Prosecutors may be willing to dismiss DUS charges when drivers successfully reinstate their licenses by their court date. Otherwise, DUS charges can be reduced to help avoid jail time or maximum fines. 
  • Driving under suspension (DUS) after a DUI conviction. Driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license after a DUI conviction can result in harsher penalties. In addition to fines, a first offense is punishable by up to 30 days in jail; a second offense is punishable by up to 6 months; and a third or subsequent offense is punishable by up to 3 years in prison.
  • Reckless driving. This entails a motorist operating a vehicle with willful disregard for the safety of persons or property. Under S.C. Code §56-5-2920, reckless driving is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and automatic suspension of a commercial driver's license (for first-time offenders) or a regular driver's license (for subsequent offenses).
  • Failure to stop for blue light. Failing to stop in a timely manner for a law enforcement officer is illegal under S.C. Code §56-5-750. If the incident did not involve serious injury or death, this violation is punishable by up to 3 years in prison. If the occurrence did result in injury, the defendant may face up to 10 years in prison. If it resulted in death, the defendant may be imprisoned for up to 25 years. Penalties are enhanced if the defendant has prior offenses. All offenders will face mandatory license suspension.
  • An open container of beer or wine in the vehicle. If you received a speeding citation with an open container of beer or wine in the car, you may face enhanced penalties. Under S.C. Code §61-4-110, the drink must contain at least 0.5% ABV for the defendant to be charged. Offenders will be charged with a fine of up to $100 and face up to 30 days of imprisonment.
  • An open container of liquor in the vehicle. Under S.C. Code §61-6-4020, it's illegal to have an open container of liquor in the car. If caught speeding with opened liquor, the defendant will need to pay a fine and up to 30 days in jail.

Aggressively Defending the Accused in Lexington, SC

If you've been charged with a crime, you deserve an experienced defense lawyer to represent you in court. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC are highly effective in the courtroom and committed to obtaining justice for our clients. Whether you’ve been wrongfully accused or made an honest mistake, rest assured that we’re here to fight fiercely for your freedom.

Our firm understands that time is of the essence when you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, making dedicated legal representation a necessity. That’s why we offer free consultations to serve our clients in Lexington and the surrounding areas. If you’re facing criminal charges, don’t wait to take action.

We do not offer free, in-office consultations for those charged with minor traffic offenses (such as speeding or too fast for conditions). We can, however, offer to assist drivers charged with these types of violations by requesting the ticket be dismissed or reduced to the lowest available level. The first step to obtaining assistance with a minor traffic violation would be to call our office and a member of our staff will be able to assist you. 

If you’ve been charged with a traffic offense in South Carolina, it’s imperative to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call (803) 359-3301 or contact us online.


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