Traffic Ticket FAQ in South Carolina
What do I do if I get a traffic ticket in SC?
Decide whether to plead guilty, no contest or nolo contendere, or not guilty.
Depending on the violation, pleading guilty or no contest or nolo contendere means paying the ticket online or by mail, dealing with penalties like point accumulation, and moving on.
Some drivers opt to plead not guilty, and this means going to court and proving your innocence to a judge.
NOTE: Your ticket will state whether a court appearance is required. Regardless of how you plan to plead, some violations require a court appearance.
Which court handles traffic tickets?
Nearly every court in South Carolina can handle traffic tickets, and your ticket will specify which court is handling yours.
However, most traffic tickets go before municipal and magistrate courts. Usually, municipal courts handle town- and city-level tickets, and magistrate courts handle county-level courts.
The South Carolina Judicial Department provides everything you need to know―including how to contact each court in the state.
How can I get a traffic ticket dismissed?
Plead not guilty, contest the ticket in court, and win.
Many drivers hire traffic ticket attorneys to increase their chances of winning.
What if I have a South Carolina CDL and get a traffic ticket?
You can plead guilty or not guilty, like any other driver, but you must remember that CDL drivers:
- Must notify their employers of a violation conviction.
- Face harsher penalties for guilty pleas and convictions, depending on the violation.
Learn more at Ticket Fines and Penalties.
Why is it a good idea to order a driving record?
Your driving record shows you:
- How close you are to license suspension and whether it's time to think about point reduction courses.
- If the DMV is removing your points at the required rate.
- Whether the DMV removed the applicable number of points after you completed an approved defensive driving course.
Some drivers like to check their records after they plead to or receive judgment on a traffic violation to make sure the DMV added no, or only the applicable number of, points,
Find out how to get yours at SC Driving Records.
What is the total cost of my traffic ticket?
The total costs depends on:
- The traffic violation.
- Violation surcharges (such as DUI fines and ADSAP costs).
- Penalty costs (such as license reinstatement fees).
Learn more at Ticket Fines and Penalties.
Are traffic ticket fines the same throughout the state?
Judges have a list with a “range" of ticket fines for each violation. Your judge determines whether you pay the minimum, maximum, or any number in between.
For information more specific to your violation and judge, contact your court.
How can I find a lost traffic ticket online?
You can't, but you can contact your court to retrieve lost citation information.
Refer to Lost SC Traffic Tickets for more information.
When is it a good idea to hire a traffic ticket attorney?
Consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney if:
- You're uncomfortable speaking in court.
- You need help preparing and presenting your case.
- You need help subpoenaing witnesses.
- You're open to negotiating a plea agreement.
- You're facing serious criminal charges, long-term license suspension or revocation, or incarceration.
- You suddenly need to postpone or reschedule your hearing.
- You want to appeal a guilty verdict.
How did I get a “habitual offender" status?
The DMV will give you a habitual offender status if you:
- Receive 3 convictions or more for “major" offenses within a period or 3 years, such as DUI, manslaughter with a motor vehicle, and reckless driving.
- Receive 10 convictions or more for traffic violations that are 4 points or more.
How long do points stay on my driving record?
Between 1 and 2 years. The DMV cuts points by 1/2, and completely removes points that are 2 years old.
So, say you receive a violation worth 4 points. The DMV will remove 2 of those points after 1 year, and the other 2 after 2 years.
How many points can I get before license suspension?
Once you accumulate 12 points, the DMV can suspend your license.
Before suspending your license, the DMV will send you a suspension notice.
Learn more at SC Point Reduction.