Fight Traffic Ticket in South CarolinaPage Overview
Unless the citation states otherwise, you can plead guilty and pay your ticket (perhaps even online) or plead not guilty and fight the ticket in court.
(Plead Guilty or No Contest)
- Pay the fine, possibly online.
- Accumulate driving record points.
- Risk license suspension or revocation.
- See increased auto insurance rates.
- Possibly attend a defensive driving course to combat points and get an insurance discount.
Learn more about
Paying your Traffic Ticket »
(Plead Not Guilty or Nolo Contendere)
- Contest ticket during your hearing.
- Possibly have a traffic ticket attorney represent you.
- Gain no penalties if found not guilty (except applicable court/attorney fees).
- Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).
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Fighting your Traffic Ticket »
Fighting your SC traffic ticket means:
- Showing up in court on your ticket’s hearing date.
- Contesting the ticket and making your case before the judge, perhaps with legal assistance.
- Receiving your verdict.
If you’re found not guilty, you can put the situation behind you, but if you’re found guilty you must deal with the applicable ticket fines and penalties.
Pleading Guilty or No Contest
Some drivers―especially those who know they’re guilty―find it easier to plead guilty or no contest (nolo contendere) and pay their ticket fines.
Find out how to use this option, including whether you’re eligible to pay your ticket online, at Paying Your Traffic Ticket.
Avoid Additional Charges
Check your ticket for your hearing date. To contest your ticket, you must appear in court on this date. Failure to do so leads to an automatic guilty verdict.
At this point, you must pay the traffic ticket fine. Most courts allow drivers to pay their tickets within 15 days of the hearing date; pay your ticket within this time period or you could face license suspension.
NOTE: If your situation called for posting bail with the ticketing officer, failure to show up for your hearing date results in bail forfeiture.
Determine Where to Plead
Magistrate, municipal, circuit, family, and federal courts all handle traffic ticket cases in South Carolina.
However, most traffic ticket cases go before magistrate or municipal courts. Usually, magistrate courts handle county-level tickets and municipal courts handle town- or city-level tickets.
Your ticket includes the name and contact information of the court handling your ticket, and this is where you’ll plead not guilty.
Inform the Court
To inform the court of your not guilty plea, you only have to show up on your hearing date. Check your ticket for the date and time. Typically, judges handle hearings right then.
You can request a trial by jury, too. Just show up on your hearing date and let the judge know you want a trial by jury. He’ll then schedule a new date.
Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing
Most courts require you to reschedule or postpone your hearing with the law enforcement agency that issued your ticket. Check your ticket for the officer’s name and the agency’s contact information.
A skilled traffic ticket lawyer can:
- Help you prepare your case.
- Speak for you in court.
- Present evidence and question the ticketing officer.
- Take care of postponing or rescheduling your hearing.
- Negotiate a plea agreement.
- Appeal your guilty verdict.
As you prepare your case, you and your attorney can:
- Practice your testimony.
- Determine whether you have or need witnesses.
- Gather evidence.
- Consider a possible plea agreement.
Usually, judges hold numerous traffic hearings during a particular day. The judge will call you based on your case number; once it’s your turn, you (and your attorney, if you have one) will stand before him.
The judge will then:
- Listen to testimony from both sides, including witness testimony.
- View evidence from both sides.
- Allow you or your attorney to question the officer and any witnesses.
- Allow the prosecution to question you, the officer, and any witnesses.
- Make a judgment.
If you’re found not guilty, you face no fines or penalties except any applicable court costs and attorney fees. Also, the court will refund your bail (if your situation requirs you to post one).
If your judge finds you guilty, you’ll be responsible for all related ticket fines and penalties.
NOTE: Typically, DUI convictions require Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP) completion, in addition to other fines and penalties. Learn more about ADSAP eligibility and benefits.
Filing an Appeal
Typically, courts allow drivers to file appeals within 10 days of receiving their guilty verdicts. You or your attorney must file the appeal with the clerk of court.
- You received no points for your not guilty verdict.
- You received only the applicable number of points for your guilty verdict.
Learn more at SC Driving Records.
Judge find you not guilty? You won’t have to worry about increased auto insurance rates.
However, if your judge bangs the gavel on a guilty verdict, your provider might raise your costs the next time you renew your policy.
Contact your agent after you get your verdict and ask about how a traffic violation will affect your rates. If you find out they’ll increase, start shopping for lower rates now and get a head start on finding affordable coverage.Other Topics in This Section