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  • Fight Traffic Ticket in South Carolina

    SUMMARY: How to Fight a South Carolina Traffic Ticket

    To fight your SC traffic ticket, you'll need to submit a "not guilty" plea in person on your scheduled court date.

    Refer to your traffic ticket or contact the appropriate South Carolina traffic court, as the process may vary by county.

    Continue reading this page to learn more about fighting your traffic ticket in South Carolina.

    Fighting Your SC Traffic Ticket

    Unless your traffic citation states otherwise, you can plead "guilty" and pay your ticket or plead "not guilty" and fight the ticket in court.

    Pay Ticket
    (Plead Guilty or No Contest)

    Learn more about
    paying your traffic ticket »

    Fight 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).

    Learn more below.

    What It Means to Fight Your SC Traffic Ticket

    Fighting your South Carolina 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 traffic 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 traffic 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 traffic ticket for your hearing date. To fight the charge, 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. Be sure to pay your ticket before the due date as you could face a driver's license suspension.

    NOTE: If your situation called for posting bail with the ticketing officer, failure to show up for your hearing results in bail forfeiture.

    Notify the SC Traffic Court

    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 traffic 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 SC court of your "not guilty" plea, you only have to show up on your hearing date. Check your traffic 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 traffic ticket for the officer's name and the agency's contact information.

    Hire a SC Traffic Ticket Attorney

    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.

    Prepare Your Case

    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.

    Plead Your Case Before a Judge or Jury

    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 won't need to pay any traffic ticket fines or face other penalties except for 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 in South Carolina.

    NOTE: Typically, DUI convictions require completion of an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP), in addition to other fines and penalties. Learn more about ADSAP eligibility and benefits.

    Filing an Appeal in South Carolina

    Courts usually 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.

    Check Your SC Driving Record

    Accumulating too many driving record points leads to a suspended driver's license, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on your South Carolina driving record―whether the judge finds you guilty or not. Make sure:

    • 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.

    Shop for Better Auto Insurance Rates in South Carolina

    Judge find you innocent? 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 due to points on your driving record.

    Contact your insurance agent after you get your verdict and ask about how your 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.