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What are South Carolina Traffic Court Records?

South Carolina traffic court records include legal documentation and case files created as records of court proceedings involving violations of the state's traffic laws. This includes documents 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 documentation created in courts of public record, are classified as public information and, as such, can be accessed and viewed by members of the general public. The only exception is if a particular set of records has 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 South Carolina traffic laws, statutes, and ordinances. It indicates an officer's attestation of the observed violation. There are 5copies in a South Carolina UTT, one each for the violator, law enforcement, the trial officer, driver's record, and audit. The officer may fill in the ticket, which may contain information about the violator, including full name, address (physical & mailing, if different), and other relevant bio-data. It may include details about the vehicle that committed the violation and information about the operator's driver's license.

The citation issued by the officer may 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 may be noted by the officer, who may append his name, rank, and officer ID. Instructions on how to proceed may be included on the reverse of the ticket. The ticket may also contain the name of the city or county with jurisdiction over the violation.

Certain violations may 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 may 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 "roadside 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 prevalent. Suppose the officer determines that no roadside bond needs to be collected. In that case, the violator may be informed that a failure to appear at the time of trial or post bond may result in a judgment against them and a license suspension until they comply with the court's last order. If they agree to abide by the terms of the citation, it may be released under their own recognizance. Noncompliance with the terms of the citation requires that within 12 months of the citation date, the court may notify the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and the DMV may notify the defendant's home jurisdiction, if different. The DMV may 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 may provide the amount due during the payment process. Contact the court listed in your citation to get specific information about fines and applicable court fees and surcharges. Receiving 12 points on your South Carolina driving record may 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 mainly relate to parked cars 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 may respond to the citation by the court appearance date by performing either option, or there may be added consequences, including a license suspension and a bench warrant for your arrest. It is prudent to consult the services of an attorney before making a choice.

In the state of South Carolina, choosing to pay the fine is viewed as a conviction. Accordingly, you may forgo any other options and accept the penalties issued by the court. These can 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 may appear in court on the scheduled date and time. If unable, the defendants may inform the court and reschedule a new date before this day. At the hearing, you may enter your plea, and you may be expected to pay your fines and 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 a money order or check with the fine amount to the office of the trial officer indicated on the citation

Contesting a Traffic Ticket in South Carolina

Choosing to fight the ticket indicates your intention to exercise your right to contest the ticket. To pursue this option, you may appear on the date assigned for your hearing at the designated court to enter your plea. Afterward, the judge may assign a trial date where you can present your side of the case. It is advisable to retain the services of an attorney at this point. If you are found Not Guilty at trial, the charges, fines, and associated penalties may be dismissed. You may be still liable for court costs. If you are found guilty, you may be convicted and liable for fines, penalties and associated court costs. Most speeding offenses in South Carolina may result in misdemeanor charges, and if other circumstances arise, a felony charge could accompany them.

If the offender is a first-timer and is not charged with a violent crime, it might be possible to enroll in a Pre-trial Intervention Program in place of a trial. Satisfactory program completion may 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), in addition to the criminal hearing in court, you may also need to appear for an administrative hearing with the DMV to determine whether you can keep your license.

How Do I Find South Carolina Traffic Court Records?

Traffic court records can be found on the court website where the case was heard and on the official judicial website of the South Carolina government. Otherwise, you can visit the court clerk's office in person and make your request. There may be applicable court charges if you need copies of the record. The party requesting the documents will be subject to identity verification.

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 may be required to provide:

  • The name of someone involved, providing it is 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; 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 may provide information about the record, including full name (as it appears on the record), date of birth, and a case number. The party requesting it may need to provide personal information, including a full name and a valid form of identification. Court costs may apply and may depend on the confines of the request. These may 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 may differ, based on the violation, but the procedures involved in responding to a ticket and the subsequent processes may generally be the same. An exception would be for a DUI, as this may 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 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 it 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 that 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.

How to Prepare for Traffic Court in South Carolina

Preparing for traffic court in South Carolina involves first, familiarizing yourself with South Carolina traffic laws outlined in the South Carolina Code of Laws Title 56. Each county in South Carolina may have slightly different procedures, so motorists are advised to look up the specific rules and regulations of the county where your citation was issued. In South Carolina, you may have the option to request a trial by jury for traffic violations. If you choose this route, you may file a written request with the court at least 10 days before your scheduled court date. Most importantly, consider seeking legal advice or representation to navigate the process of resolving a traffic offense, whether major or minor.

South Carolina Traffic Court Records
  • Criminal Records
  • Arrests Records
  • Warrants
  • Driving Violations
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Federal Dockets
  • Probate Records
  • Marriage Records
  • Divorce Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • And More!