South Carolina Court Records
What are South Carolina Traffic Court Records?
South Carolina traffic court records include all legal documentation and case files created as records of the court proceedings involving violations of the traffic laws in the state of South Carolina. Included in this would be records related to moving and non-moving violations under the motor vehicle code and violations of any other traffic laws, statutes or ordinances in the State of South Carolina.
Are South Carolina Traffic Court Records Public Records?
Traffic records in South Carolina, as with all documentation created in courts of public record, are classified as public information and as such are subject to be accessed and viewed by members of the general public. The only exception to this would be if a particular set of records have had access prohibited by a court order or by law.
Getting a Traffic Ticket in South Carolina
A Uniform Traffic Ticket (UTT) is a computer-generated document issued for violations of traffic laws, statutes, and ordinances in the state of South Carolina. It indicates an attestation by the officer on the observed violation. There are 5 copies in a South Carolina UTT, one each for the violator, law enforcement, the trial officer, driver’s record and audit. The ticket will be filled in by the officer and it will contain information about the violator including full name, address (physical & mailing, if different) and other relevant bio-data. It will include details about the vehicle that committed the violation and information about the operator’s driver’s license.
The citation issued by the officer will contain a Summons to appear before the Trial officer and list the name of the magistrate or judge, name and location of the court, date of appearance with time, a summary of the section violated and if a court appearance is required. The date and time the ticket was issued will be noted by the officer and he will append his name, rank and officer ID. Instructions on how to proceed will be included on the reverse of the ticket. The ticket will also contain the name of the city or county which has jurisdiction over the violation.
Certain violations will require that a bond is paid or the violator could be subject to custodial arrest. Upon issuance of a UTT by a law enforcement officer, the officer must determine whether the violator should be arrested and appear before a judicial officer for a bond hearing. If the violator is subject to custodial arrest, a “road-side bond” can be collected as determined by the officer.
This is only collectible by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers and the practice is no longer so prevalent. If the officer determines that no roadside bond need be collected, the violator must be informed that a failure to appear at time of trial or post bond will result in judgment against him and a license suspension until he complies with the last order of the court and if he agrees to abide by the terms of the citation, must be released on his own recognizance. Noncompliance with the terms of the citation requires that within 12 months of the citation date, the court must notify the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and DMV will notify the defendant’s home jurisdiction, if different. The DMV will begin procedures to suspend the defendant’s license indefinitely until he provides proof of compliance.
South Carolina traffic fines vary by violation. Each court has a list of fines for violations, depicting a minimum and maximum fine amount. The final amount is determined by the judge or magistrate. A ticket that can be paid online will provide the amount due during the payment process. To get specific information about fines and applicable court fees and surcharges, contact the court listed in your citation. Receiving 12 points on your South Carolina driving record will result in a suspension of your license by the DMV.
Traffic violations are generally classified as either moving or non-moving violations. Moving violations are offenses committed by moving vehicles, while Non-moving violations mostly relate to parked vehicles or defective vehicle equipment. Non-moving violations are not reported to the South Carolina DMV and do not appear on your driving record.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in South Carolina?
Upon receiving a traffic citation in South Carolina, you can choose to either:
- Pay the traffic ticket
- Fight the ticket
You must respond to the citation by the court appearance date, by performing either option or there will be added consequences which include a license suspension and a bench warrant for your arrest. It is prudent to consult the services of an attorney before making a choice.
Choosing to pay the fine is viewed as a conviction in the state of South Carolina. Accordingly, you will forgo all any other options which might be available and accept the penalties issued by the court. These can come to include fines, court fees and surcharges, points on your driving record and possible jail time depending on the severity of the offense. The added points on your record can lead to suspension of your driving license and increased insurance premiums.
If the ticket indicates a court appearance is required, the motorist must appear in court on the scheduled date and time. If unable to do so, defendants must inform the court and reschedule a new date before this day. At the hearing, you will enter your plea and it will be expected that you pay your fines and all other additional penalties that might accrue.
If the ticket does not require a court appearance, then you can pay the fine
- Online: on the South Carolina official judicial website
- In-Person: at the office of the clerk of the court, of the court to which your case was assigned
- By Mail: mail money order or check with the fine amount, to the office of the trial officer indicated on the citation
Choosing to fight the ticket indicates your intention to exercise your right to contest the ticket. To pursue this option, you must appear on the date assigned for your hearing at the designated court to enter your plea. Afterward, the judge will assign a trial date where you can present your side of the case. It is advisable to have retained the services of an attorney by this point. If you are found Not Guilty at trial, then the charges, along with all fines and associated penalties, will be dismissed. You will be still liable for court costs. If you are found guilty, you will be convicted on the charges and be liable for all fines, penalties and associated court costs. Most speeding offenses, in South Carolina, will result in misdemeanor charges and if other circumstances arise, a felony charge could accompany.
If the offender is a first-timer and is not charged with a violent crime, it might be possible to enroll for a Pre-trial Intervention Program in place of a trial. Satisfactory completion of the program will result in the charges being dismissed and no points being added to your record.
If you are charged with a DUI (Driving under the Influence), apart from the criminal hearing in court, you will also need to appear for an administrative hearing with the DMV to determine if you get to keep your license.
How Do I Find South Carolina Traffic Court Records?
Traffic court records can be found on the website of the court where the case was heard, the official judicial website of the South Carolina government. Otherwise, you can visit the office of the clerk of the court in person and make your request. There will be applicable court charges if you will want copies of the record. The party requesting the records is subject to verification of identity.
Additionally, publicly available records may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
What information is required to obtain South Carolina Traffic Court Records?
To acquire Traffic records about a third party, you must provide information about the record including full name (as it appears on the record), date of birth and a case number. The party requesting will need to provide personal information including a full name and a valid form of identification. Court costs will apply and will depend on the confines of the request. These must be paid before you receive the records.
Are all South Carolina Traffic Violations handled the same way?
South Carolina traffic violations and infractions, are generally handled in the same manner regardless of the offense. Penalties and points imposed on erring parties will differ, based on the violation, but the procedures involved in responding to a ticket and the subsequent processes will generally be the same. An exception would be for a DUI, as this will require a separate administrative hearing before the DMV.
Can South Carolina Traffic Records be sealed or expunged?
While it is possible to have criminal records expunged in the state of South Carolina, the law does not allow for the expungement of motor vehicle violations and most traffic citations. There are some exceptions including failing to stop for law enforcement when being signaled to do so, but these are only eligible for first-time offenders, The expungement law only allows for one expungement per individual, in his lifetime, so should be used carefully.
How does one end up in a South Carolina Traffic court?
You end up in a South Carolina traffic court if:
- You are issued a citation and the officer indicates a court appearance is required to respond.
- You are issued a citation, which does not require a court appearance, but you wish to contest the ticket.
Which Courts in South Carolina have jurisdiction to hear traffic violation matters?
Traffic violations in the state of South Carolina are heard in the magistrate or municipal court located in the county where the violation was alleged to have happened.