Let’s say you were driving down I-77 in York County, or maybe you were cruising along a side street. Suddenly, the blue lights came on behind you. The officer pulled you over and ticketed you for speeding, driving through a red light or some other traffic violation. Because the officer must have had a reason to stop you, you assume, then you must be guilty. So, you wonder, “Should I just pay the ticket?”
The short answer is: No.
The longer answer starts with us telling you that your first step should be to call an experienced traffic ticket attorney who practices in the area in South Carolina where you got the ticket – Rock Hill or Fort Mill, for instance. The lawyer should give you a straight assessment of your situation. As part of that assessment, the lawyer should look at factors such as:
- Your driving history
- Type of charged traffic offense
- Potential impact on your insurance rates.
Here, we present five more in-depth reasons why you should never simply pay a traffic ticket in South Carolina before you contact a lawyer first:
- If you admit guilt, you will add points to your driving record.
If you are convicted of a traffic violation in South Carolina, it will add points to your driving record. If you are licensed in another state, then under the Driver License Compact, a South Carolina offense would likely add points to your record in that state. (But that is not guaranteed. For example, a two-point traffic violation in South Carolina would not transfer to North Carolina.)
The points vary from 2 to 6. The more dangerous an offense, the higher the points. For instance, a reckless driving conviction would add six points to your record in South Carolina, while making an unlawful pass would get you four points and driving in an improper lane would get you two.
The points system works the same for speeding. The faster you go, the more points you risk getting put on your record if you are found guilty. The points are:
- 25 mph or more above posted speed limit 6
- More than 10 mph above limit 4
- 10 mph or less above limit 2
In South Carolina, you may also be cited for driving too fast for conditions – if more than 10 mph, it’s four points; if less than 10 mph, it’s two. Those points can add up. If you get more than 12 points on your record, you could lose your driver’s license.
- If you pay the ticket now, you may pay higher insurance rates later.
The insurance rates you pay reflect the amount of risk you present to an insurance company. If you look like a driver who has a high risk of getting into an accident, the insurance company will charge you a higher rate.
Insurance companies look at your driving record to determine your risk. If you have certain types of traffic violations or a certain number of points, the insurer may spike your premiums. It happens all of the time. For instance, Insurance.com reports that the average rate increases after a speeding ticket of 30 mph or more above the limit by around 15 percent (compared to 11 percent if 14 mph or less above the limit).
So, the ticket may seem inexpensive. However, if you add in the extra amount that you may soon pay for auto insurance, the cost will add up.
- You may have alternatives available to you.
An attorney can review your driving record, the nature of the offense, your insurance policy and other information and help you to assess your options. For instance, instead of pleading guilty to the charged offense, your attorney may help you to pursue an alternative such as pleading to a lesser offense. The result could reduce the points on your driving record and/or keep the violation off the insurance company’s radar. The key is to work with a lawyer who will look at the totality of your situation and give you proper advice.
- You may be able to challenge the ticket.
You have the right to contest the traffic violation in court if you choose. An attorney can aggressively represent you in Municipal Court or Magistrate Court and fight the ticket for you. Several defenses may be available. For example, the officer’s radar gun may not have been in proper working order when the officer “clocked” you breaking the speed limit. You would have the right to review the prosecution’s evidence prior to your court date.
Remember: A traffic ticket is a charging document only. It is an allegation. The prosecution must still prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the alleged offense.
- You will never know your options unless you talk with a lawyer.
Many people go online or mail in a check for a speeding ticket because they don’t want to deal with it. They may live out of state, for instance, or they may be too busy with work and family to think about doing anything besides simply paying off the ticket and forgetting about it. Everyone’s situation is different. However, in most cases, taking that approach is the wrong choice.
The reality is that you will never know about your other options unless you talk with an experienced traffic violation attorney first. Generally speaking, it will help if the attorney practices in the city or county where you got the ticket and, in turn, understands local practices and procedures.
Contact Our Rock Hill Traffic Ticket Attorneys Today
Did you recently get a traffic ticket in Rock Hill or a nearby community in York County? Are you worried about a ticket that your son or daughter got? Are you wondering about what to do next because you live in another state? If so, you should seek help immediately from the knowledgeable traffic violation attorneys of McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC. We have nearly four decades of experience with handling traffic tickets for clients in the community. We would be glad to assist you. Call or reach us online today.