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South Carolina Traffic Laws

As a South Carolina driver, you'll face tricky situations and split-second decisions. The wrong decision could cause an accident or draw the attention of a police officer.

In this article, get an introduction to driving in the state of South Carolina. Knowing the driving rules can help you stay on the right side of the law. You can also learn about traffic tickets and what to do if you face serious charges. Read on to learn more about South Carolina traffic laws.

South Carolina Driving Laws

Most driving rules appear in Title 56 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. Keep in mind that local areas like Columbia and Charleston have additional laws.

Find links to select state traffic laws in the chart below.

Drinking and driving violations

Operating motor vehicle while under influence (SC Code section 56-5-2930)

Driving without a license or with a suspended license

Driver's license required (SC Code section 56-1-20)

Driving without insurance or with insufficient insurance

Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act (SC Code Title 56, Ch. 9)

Driving without registration or with expired registration

Vehicles required to be registered (SC Code section 56-3-110)

Illegal U-turn

Limitations on turning around (SC Code section 56-5-2140)

Leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run)

Duties of drivers involved in accident (SC Code sections 56-5-1210 to 56-5-1260)

Mechanical violations and unlawful vehicle modifications

Equipment and Identification (SC Code Title 56, Ch. 5, Article 35)

Reckless driving

Reckless driving (SC Code section 56-5-2920)

Running a red light or stop sign

Obedience to and required traffic-control devices (SC Code section 56-5-950)

Seat belt and child restraint violations

Child Passenger Restraint System (SC Code Title 56, Ch. 5, Article 47)Safety Belts (SC Code Title 56, Ch. 5, Article 48)


Restrictions on Speed (SC Code Title 56, Ch. 5, Article 11)

South Carolina's Drivers License Points System

South Carolina is one of many states that uses a points system to track motorists' safety on the road. Each violation is worth a specific number of points under the law.

Below are a few examples of points for traffic violations under SC Code section 56-1-720:

  • Failure to yield right of way: four points
  • Exceeding the maximum speed limit: two points within 10 miles above the limit, four points between 10 and 25 miles in excess, and six points above 25 miles in excess
  • Passing a stopped school bus: six points
  • Following another vehicle too closely: four points

One year after the violation, the point value is halved. If you reach 12 points within a year, the state may suspend your license for at least three months.

What Should I Do After Getting a South Carolina Traffic Ticket?

First, examine your citation with care. Look for any inaccurate details that law enforcement may have recorded. Check for instructions to resolve the ticket or attend a hearing in traffic court.

Next, you will have to make an important decision. Either you'll pay the fine and accept all consequences, or you can fight the ticket. Ignoring the ticket or missing the deadline can lead to worse penalties.

Minor tickets for infractions like parking violations are civil matters, not criminal. Paying a ticket, however, is similar to pleading guilty. The penalties often include a fine and demerit points on your driving record.

You may decide to challenge the ticket instead. There are many legitimate reasons to contest a ticket. If you succeed in fighting the ticket, you can avoid the fine and license points.

Criminal Traffic Offenses

Serious traffic offenses can be criminal cases. These cases involve much more than a simple citation. Law enforcement may arrest you and suspend your driving privileges at the traffic stop.

Examples of serious traffic crimes in South Carolina include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI):  Misdemeanor or felony based on serious injury or death from a DUI-related crash
  • Hit-and-run collisions: Misdemeanor or felony based on property damage and bodily injury from the crash
  • Reckless driving: Misdemeanor

Criminal traffic cases call for a careful legal defense. A misdemeanor or felony conviction can carry penalties like jail time, vehicle impoundment, and license suspension.

Contact a South Carolina Traffic Lawyer

local traffic defense attorney can advise you if you face a ticket or driving-related charges. They'll assess the circumstances to create a defense strategy. Their goal is to minimize the case's impact, if any, on your life.

If you suffered a car accident in South Carolina, you may want to speak with a personal injury attorney. Auto accident lawyers can explore options to help you recover from significant injuries.

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