South Carolina has a 12-point system for traffic violations. These points are recorded by the DMV on your Driving Record.
The following is a list of traffic violations and the points assessed for each:
Passing a stopped school bus=6
Hit-and-run, property damage only=6
Driving too fast for conditions, or speeding
*Not more than 10 mph above the posted limit=2
*More than 10 mph above the posted limit but less than 25=4
*25 mph or more above the posted limit=6
Disobedience of any official traffic control device=4
Disobedience of an officer directing traffic=4
Failing to yield the right of way=4
Driving on the wrong side of the road=4
Turning unlawfully or improperly=4
Driving through or within a safety zone=4
Failing to signal, giving an improper signal=4
Following too closely=4
Operating with improper brakes=4
Operating with improper lights=2
Shifting lanes without safety precaution=2
Failing to dim lights=2
Operating a vehicle in an unsafe condition=2
Driving in an improper lane=2
Improper or dangerous parking=2
Every driver starts with a perfect score of zero. As a driver accumulates traffic violations, that driver accumulates points under the point-system. A driver who accumulates 12 points will have his privilege to drive suspended by the DMV. As these points accumulate on your driving record, your insurance company will be assessing its own risk points against you, and raising your premium. So the best thing is to be a good driver, obey the traffic laws, and never get any tickets.
But even the most careful drivers will sometimes get a traffic ticket.
What does it mean when you receive a traffic ticket?
It means exactly this: the officer who issued the ticket to you is accusing you of violating a traffic law. That is, the ticket that the officer gives you is really only an accusationthat you have broken a traffic law. It does not mean that you are guilty. It does not mean that you actually did the thing the officer says you did.
You have the right to a trial on any traffic ticket you receive.
In our legal system, you are presumed innocent. This means that you have the legal right to fight that ticket in Court. You have the constitutional right to plead before a judge (usually a Magistrate or Municipal Court judge) that you are not guilty and to demand a trial on the charge made out in the ticket. You can even choose what kind of trial you would like to have: a trial by jury or a trial with just a judge (called a bench trial). But whichever one you choose, the State has the entire burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are guilty of the violation you have been accused of. If you are found not guilty at trial, you win. And you will have no fine to pay and no points will be added to your driving record. If you are found guilty, you lose. The judge will then give you a fine to pay, and the DMV will add the points for that ticket to your driving record. It’s better to win!
You can also choose to waive your right to a trial and plead guilty.
Of course, you can always choose to waive your right to have a trial and simply plead guilty and pay the fine. Sometimes the judge, or the police officer who gave you the ticket, will allow you to plead to a lesser charge. For example, if you are charged with a 4-point Speeding violation, you might be allowed to plead down to a 2-point violation.
Or, even easier, you can simply go online and pay the fine (which is the same as pleading guilty before a judge.) But remember, when you choose to waive your right to a trial and plead guilty, you are still going to receive a fine, and points are still going to be assessed against your Driving Record. You lose!
And yet people do this all the time. As a former prosecutor, I’ve seen it happen more times than I care to count. But that doesn’t mean pleading guilty and hoping for the best is a good plan. In fact, it’s almost always a very bad plan. As a defense attorney, I would never advise you to do this.
Why simply pleading guilty is almost always a very bad plan.
Pleading guilty may seem like the easiest way out. But it is definitely not a very good plan, and is most often a very bad plan. Here’s why.
Bad consequences. For one thing, even if you are pleading guilty to a 2-point violation, your insurance premium is likely to go up. (A word of advice: If you are bound and determined to plead guilty to a point-violation charge, always check with your insurance company first, to see how it will affect your premium.) If you are a young driver, or a newly licensed driver, your insurance premium—or your parents’ insurance premium—is almost certainly going to go up.
Second. If you already have points on your driving record, you are now going to add more points to your record. Definitely not a good thing. Or, suppose you have just pleaded to a 2-point violation and as you’re driving off from the courthouse, you’re stopped for another traffic violation, say a 4-point violation. Now you are in danger of having 6 points on your record. That will put you at half of the 12 points allowed before your privilege to drive will be suspended on points. And, of course, there’s always your insurance to think about.
Third. What if you are a CDL-holder, or a school bus driver, or anyone whose employment requires them to drive, such as Fed-Ex driver? The consequences of having even 2-points on your driving record can even cost you your job or perhaps a job opportunity.
Fourth. If you are a driver licensed in another State, any points you get in South Carolina may, depending on the laws of the state where you are licensed, result in your license being suspended in your state of residence.
As you can clearly see, traffic tickets are more important than people may sometimes think. There’s an old saying in medicine—no surgery is ever minor, if that surgery is being done on you. Well, for most folks I’ve ever known, it’s the same way with traffic tickets. If that traffic ticket is yours, it is not minor; it is the most important traffic ticket there is. So why take the risk of going into court alone, without any professional legal guidance or representation?
If you have a traffic ticket, you should call an experienced attorney who can give you some good advice, explain the various legal options that may be open to you, and suggest a plan of action or strategy to take your defense forward.
Call Attorney Mark Desser for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.
In your free initial consultation, Mr. Desser will answer all your questions and discuss the different options that may be available to you, given the particular facts and circumstances of your case and the traffic violation, or violations, you are facing. Before going forward, you should at the very least understand what your legal rights are and what defenses may be available to you.
Reasonable and Competitive Fees at Mark Desser, Attorney at Law, LLC.
Of course, no attorney can ever promise a particular result. But at my law firm, I can, and do, promise all my clients that I will always give them the very best professional legal representation I know how to give. I work hard in every case I handle to win for my clients the best possible outcome. I offer reasonable and competitive fees, and I will do as much as I can to work with you on a payment plan that will fit your personal or family budget.
Call Mark Desser today for your free consultation. It won’t cost you a thing, and it may very well save you a great deal.