• South Carolina Speeding Ticket Laws

    Speeding Tickets in South Carolina

    Discovery and Burden of Proof for Speeding in South Carolina
    Elements of Speeding Charge in South Carolina
    Fighting a Speeding Ticket in South Carolina
    Misc. Speeding Issues in South Carolina
    South Carolina Penalties and Reciprocity
    Vehicle Stops in South Carolina

    South Carolina speeding statutes require that everyone must drive in a reasonably prudent manner given the conditions of the roads, weather and traffic. Also, there are certain speeds which should not be exceeded on certain roadways. Such speed limits include the speed limits mentioned above, such as: interstates and freeways – seventy miles per hour, multilane divided highway – sixty miles per hour, other locations on roadways – fifty-five miles per hour, and unpaved roads – forty miles per hour. The statute requires that speeds be reduced when weather and traffic conditions are less than favorable. Also, speeds must be reduced when approaching railroads, curved roads, hills, narrow bridges, or narrow winding roads.

    While these set speed limits are a general rule they may be altered by the Department of Transportation upon an engineering and traffic investigation. Such changes could be to lower or slightly raise the speed limit at different times of day for different vehicles. For instance, the speed limit may be seventy miles per hour on the interstate during the day, but at dusk the speed limit may drop to sixty. But these drops in speed limit may not only be based on when it gets dark. Perhaps the speed limit is still seventy miles per hour, but between the hours of 7:30 and 9:00am and between 4:30 and 7:00pm the speed limit drops to fifty-five. This time frame revolves around the time of rush hour, as opposed to the amount of light outside. Any change in speed must be posted on signs visible to those on the roadways. These speed reductions can also be implemented in urban zones. South Carolina statutes make it possible for the Department of Transportation to lower or raise the urban district speed limit of thirty miles per hour when a highway, freeway or other roadway with a higher speed limit is built through an urban district. When increasing the speeds in urban areas the new speed limit may not exceed seventy miles per hour. Outside of an urban zone the speed limit may not be reduced to a speed below thirty-five miles per hour. There may be no more than six speed alterations may be mad within a mile stretch of highway. Speed alterations may not be more than ten miles per hour above or below the previous speed on such highway or roadway. These speed limit adjustments may be implemented at certain times of the day which the Department sees fit for the conditions of the roadways, weather, traffic, or other special hazards.

    One of these special hazards singled out in the statutes is a temporary work zone. A temporary work zone is an area identified by orange cones or signs and workers in the area and on the scene. When approaching a temporary work zone drivers are required to change lanes so as not to be immediately adjacent to the work zone. If changing lanes is not possible then the driver is required to significantly reduce their speed in order to avoid injury anyone or anything on the scene. Anyone guilty of failing to change lanes or reduce his/her speeds to a safe speed will be guilty of a misdemeanor for endangering temporary work zone personnel. The penalty for this offense is a fine of no less than two hundred dollars and no more than five hundred dollars.

    When one is convicted of speeding they are guilty of a misdemeanor. When someone is convicted of speeding for the first time the penalties will vary depending on how high above the speed limit the defendant was travelling. If someone is found to be driving no more than ten miles above the speed limit he/she shall be fined between fifteen and twenty-five dollars. If one is found to be between ten and fifteen miles in excess of the speed limit he/she shall face a fine of no less than twenty-five dollars and no more than fifty dollars. Being found guilty of going between fifteen and twenty miles over the speed limit the punishment is a fine of no less than fifty dollars, but not more than seventy-five dollars. There are two different penalties for driving in excess of twenty-five miles per hour above the speed limit. These penalties include a fine between seventy-five and two hundred dollars or an imprisonment of up to thirty days. The money collected from the above mentioned fines go into a fund which may be used to increase the amount of patrolmen on the highway.

    Absolute Speed Limit in South Carolina

    An absolute speed limit statute sets the maximum speed limit allowed; exceeding that speed limit at all, even one mile per hour over the posted speed limit, is a violation of the speed limit statute. In states which have absolute speed limit laws the prosecution or the attorney for the state has the burden of proving that the accused was driving in excess of the posted speed limit. Also, the prosecution must present evidence that a greater speed was not permitted in that area at the time of the offense. South Carolina has certain set maximums speeds for specific roadways. These speeds are the absolute maximums, but they may be lower in some areas, so long as there are speed limit signs posted. The following speeds are the maximum speeds allowed on the roadways stated: interstates and freeways – seventy miles per hour, multilane divided highway – sixty miles per hour, other locations on roadways – fifty-five miles per hour, and unpaved roads – forty miles per hour.

    In an urban district the maximum speed limit is thirty miles per hour. An urban district is defined as an area which is built up with business, industry, or homes which are less than one hundred feet apart for a span of a quarter mile or more. This speed limit may be changed by the local authorities when an engineering and traffic investigation is conducted. If such investigation shows the need for a lower speed limit, such lower speed limit can be enforced by all law enforcement officers authorized to enforce speed limit laws in that district. The maximum speed limits set forth in the statute may be altered for certain vehicle to maintain safe roadways. For example, a mobile or modulated home may not be transported at speeds in excess of ten miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when that limit is over forty-five miles an hour. Also, mobile or modulated homes should never be driven in excess of fifty-five miles per hour.

    While these posted speeds are maximum speeds they of course need not be met and maintained. When road, traffic and weather conditions are poor it is required that one drive below the posted limit in order to maintain safe distance between other vehicles and be able to stop within a reasonable distances when necessary.

    Presumed Speed Limit in South Carolina

    In a presumed speed limit state there are still set speed limits which should be obeyed, however; a driver is not automatically breaking the law by violating the posted speed limit. And because the purpose of speed limits is to protect the public the defendant must prove that his/her actions were appropriate for the given the weather, road and traffic conditions. Presumed speed limit states typically have a statute that reads something similar to this, “One must drive at a speed which is reasonably prudent given the circumstances, including road, weather and traffic condition.” South Carolina does have such a statute, but that statute is also paired with the maximum limit allowed in specific areas. These maximum limits are the posted speed limits. Therefore, one must drive within in the given limits and may not exceed these limits without exercising due care.

    In presumed speed limit states there is a rebuttable presumption that the driver was breaking the law, but the burden is on the driver to prove that he/she was driving in safe manner given the traffic, road and weather conditions. This is a unique system because in most proceedings the state has the burden to prove that one has broken a law. In this case, the state still has the burden to prove that the defendant was driving in excess of the posted speed limit. However, once the state meets this burden the burden then shifts to the defendant to prove that regardless of the speed limit he/she was driving in a reasonably prudent manner. If the defendant can prove that he/she was driving in a manner which was appropriate given the circumstances and conditions provided the charges may be dropped or dismissed.

    That is to say that if one is stopped in a sixty-five per hour zone and they were actually driving at a rate of 75 miles per hour they are presumed to be breaking the law. However, if this case was to go to court the defendant could present evidence that at the time he/she was stopped the roads were dry, the sun was out, and it was the middle of the afternoon. If the jury feels that dry roads are safer for faster speeds, that the sun being out indicated high visibility and that the middle of the afternoon mean less traffic they, the jury, could find that the defendant was not guilty of an offense.
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