What are South Carolina Public Traffic Records?
In South Carolina, public traffic records are official or legal documents that contain the subject’s complete driving history, including any traffic violations, records of accidents, license suspensions, revocation of driving privileges, convictions and sentences, fines, and other penalties.
Different departments or government agencies generate information that makes up a person’s traffic record. In South Carolina, the primary agencies responsible for generating and central maintenance of traffic records include state courts, law enforcement agencies, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and the Department of Transportation.
Are Traffic Records Public in South Carolina?
Yes, traffic records are public in South Carolina. This is guaranteed by the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which ensures that state agencies maintain transparency in all dealings. Any interested member of the public may request public traffic records from the appropriate agency.
South Carolina has a Driver’s Privacy Protection Act that protects certain information on traffic records, including social security numbers, telephone numbers, and medical information. Apart from the state’s privacy laws, the Federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act also prohibits the unauthorized dissemination of personal information on driving or motor vehicle records. Confidential or personal information is only available to authorized government agencies and other authorized parties.
What do South Carolina Traffic Records Contain?
South Carolina traffic records contain information such as:
- The subject’s names
- Driver’s license
- Accident reports
- Sentences and penalties
Does a Citation Go on Your Record in South Carolina?
Yes, a citation goes on your traffic record in South Carolina. The state uses a point system to record traffic violations. Points are assigned according to the severity of each offense. The possible range of points in South Carolina is two (2) to six (6) points. Road users who accumulate up to twelve points face license suspension. Only moving violations are assigned points and appear on the offender’s records. Non-moving violations such as parking violations do not typically yield points or go on the offender’s driving records, as these offenses are not considered criminal.
Moving violations typically involve a greater risk of harm or injury and are considered more serious violations. Hence, moving violations result in the assessment of points on the offender’s driving records. Examples of moving violations are driving under the influence of alcohol and other intoxicating substances and vehicular assault.
Types of Traffic Citations in South Carolina
There are four types of traffic citations in South Carolina, and they include the following:
- Uniform traffic ticket: according to section 56-7-10 of the state’s Code of Laws, law enforcement agents may issue uniform traffic tickets for freshly committed misdemeanor traffic violations in a magistrate court jurisdiction or those committed in the presence of a police officer or other law enforcement agent. The ticket may also be explicitly issued for other traffic violations listed in the code, including damaging the highway, dumping trash on the highway, and obstructing the highway with railcars.
- Speeding tickets: law enforcement agents issue speeding tickets to road users who drive above or below specified speed limits on state roads. Speeding is a serious traffic violation in South Carolina, and therefore even inadvertent instances of speeding may be prosecuted and convicted. Only the law enforcement officer who issues a speeding ticket may dismiss or reduce the charge on the ticket.
- Accident tickets: in South Carolina, law enforcement officers may issue tickets for accidents if it can be established that there was a traffic violation in the course of the accident. Law enforcement officers cannot presume traffic violations. Tickets issued as a result of accidents may only be contested in court, but such tickets cannot be reduced.
- Major violation tickets: these are tickets issued for the violation of major traffic offenses, including driving on a suspended license or without insurance, reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless homicide, and failure to stop for a blue light.
South Carolina Traffic Citation Lookup
Interested persons may look up traffic citations with the appropriate municipal or magistrate court since these are the courts that typically handle traffic violations and hearings. The correct municipal or magistrate court is the one in the city or county where the traffic violation occurred.
Alternatively, interested parties may contact local law enforcement agencies to obtain more information about a ticket from local law enforcement agencies; police officers and other law enforcement agents issue traffic citations. Local courts may also offer citation lookup functions on official websites.
Interested parties may visit the appropriate city, county, or municipality court’s websites to find out available options to look up traffic citations or tickets. Finally, some third-party websites offer traffic ticket lookup functions. Interested parties may retrieve traffic ticket information from these sites by providing a name and the county or municipality where the searcher received the ticket.
How to Lookup my South Carolina Traffic Records
Looking up traffic records in South Carolina is fairly easy. As provided by the state’s Freedom of Information Act, public traffic records may be assessed by any interested member of the public. However, requesting parties must be mindful of exemptions to the FOIA established by state and federal driver’s privacy laws. The exemptions mean that confidential or personal information may be redacted or removed from requested South Carolina traffic records. Confidential or personal information may only be accessed by authorized government agencies or other persons authorized by the subject of the record.
The easiest way to look up South Carolina traffic records is through the state’s DMV. The South Carolina DMV provides a free online Driver Records Point Summary on its website. Alternatively, interested parties may request three or ten-year driving records online for $6. Inquiring parties may also request driving records by mail; such persons must submit an SCDMV Form MV-70 along with the required $6 payment. The DMV does not accept cash payments by mail.
Third-party driving record requests require the authorization of the driver or record subject. The requesting party must have a specific reason acceptable under the Federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act if there is no authorization. The act does not permit any persons to request or obtain personal information on driving records for commercial solicitation or other unlawful purposes.
South Carolina traffic case records may also be available from third-party websites since they are considered public records. Unlike government sources or websites, third-party websites do not have geographical limitations. Hence, interested parties may access these websites from anywhere in the world. However, some third-party websites may require registration or subscription to access traffic record
South Carolina Traffic Violations
A traffic violation in South Carolina is any violation of the state's traffic laws. These violations can range from minor infractions, such as speeding, to major offenses, such as DUI or hit and run. Violations are typically punishable by fines, points on the offender's license, and/or suspension of their license.
Some of the most common traffic violations in South Carolina include:
- Speeding: Speeding is one of the most common traffic offenses in South Carolina. The penalties for speeding vary depending on how fast the offender was going and whether they were in a school zone or work zone. Generally speaking, however, offenders can expect to pay a fine if caught speeding.
- Reckless driving: Reckless driving is a more severe traffic offense than speeding. It is defined as driving in a way that endangers the lives of others. The penalties for reckless driving can include a fine, traffic points, and jail time.
- DUI: This refers to the crime of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Depending on the level of intoxication and the nature of the offense, DUI offenders are penalized severely.
- Hit and run: Hit and run is a very serious traffic offense. It occurs when an offending motorist leaves the scene of an accident without exchanging information with the other driver or rendering aid to any injured parties.
South Carolina License Plate Lookup
South Carolina license plates help law enforcement officers identify drivers who have committed a traffic violation.
To lookup South Carolina license plates, requestors will be required to provide the driver's license number or the vehicle's registration number. They can also use the license plate number to look up the owner's name and address. All license information of motorists registered within state limits is held by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. Requestors may visit the website, enter the driver's license number in the search bar and hit "enter." This will bring up the driver's record, which includes the license plate number.
How to View Traffic Case Records for Free in South Carolina
To view traffic case records for free in South Carolina, interested parties may contact the court clerk in the county where the court first heard the matter. Court clerks are record custodians for each court, and the clerks make records available to the public on request. Accessing or viewing information in person is free; however, the court may charge fees to make copies of records or to mail records to requesting parties. The court may also charge fees to produce requested records in different formats.
Another way to view traffic case records for free in South Carolina is to use the case record search provided by the South Carolina judiciary or the public index search websites that county governments provide.
How Long do Traffic Offenses Remain on a Public Record in South Carolina
Traffic offenses generally remain on public records until sealed or expunged or until the record custodian is no longer obligated by law to maintain such records. Most traffic offenses remain on public records in South Carolina for two (2) to five (5) years, while more serious offenses like DUIs stay on the offender’s driving record for up to ten (10) years. A DUI remains on a person’s criminal record indefinitely.
How to Remove Traffic Records from Public Websites in South Carolina
The easiest way to remove traffic records from a public website is to petition the court to expunge such records. In South Carolina, expungement seals a record, making it inaccessible to unauthorized parties. However, very few record types are eligible for expungement in South Carolina. These include records of offenses where the subject was found not guilty or where the charges were dismissed. Also, misdemeanor offenses punishable by fines of no more than $1,000 and imprisonment for no longer than 30 days are eligible for expungement. Petitioners must also wait three (3) years without other convictions to file the petition.
If a traffic record is not eligible for expungement, interested parties may opt out of third-party websites that host such records. There are subscription services that scour the internet for traces of a person’s records and opt-out of the sites holding such records. Other third-party websites offer simple steps to opt-out at no charge.
Do Motoring Offenses Affect Criminal Records in South Carolina?
Motoring offenses can affect criminal records in South Carolina, depending on the type of motoring offense. The two broad categories of motoring offenses are civil and criminal motoring offenses. Civil motoring offenses are the least severe, often penalized by fines and other non-criminal penalties such as probation, license suspension, and community service. On the other hand, criminal motoring offenses are more severe and often penalized with imprisonment in addition to fines, suspensions, revocations, and other penalties.
Due to the severity of criminal motoring offenses, they are the only motoring offenses that appear on criminal records. Such offenses are recorded on the offender’s driving records and criminal records.
A criminal record has many disadvantages, including a loss of certain civil rights, ineligibility for financial and educational opportunities, and in some cases, reduced employment prospects. All of this depends on the nature of the offense. It must also be noted that civil motoring offenses can result in criminal penalties, depending on the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors. This, in turn, affects criminal records.