Interviewer: So far, we talked about disregarding a stop sign, running a red light. What other traffic offenses do you tend to see most often?
Freddy: In terms of driving offenses, we see speeding, disregarding a traffic light, disregarding a stop sign. You also see improper lane change. We also see crossing the center line. We see failure to provide a turn signal and we also see charges such as driving under suspension. If it’s a major charge, if you got arrested, then the charge is usually DUI.
Generally, with traffic offenses, we’re going to encounter anything that has to do with stopping in front of a red light or running off the road or driving erratically. Those are going to be things that are going to get you a specific traffic offense citation.
Interviewer: All right. What is the top three most common ones that you run into among all the traffic offenses?
Freddy: Speeding, disregarding traffic lights and, also, improper lane change.
Speeding Tickets and Points on Your License
Interviewer: All right. So, within speeding, is there a criminal speeding level in South Carolina? What are the different levels of speeding that you’ve encountered?
Freddy: Sure. In South Carolina, speeding is pretty uniform everywhere that you go. If you’re speeding and that is observed by the police, the officer will stop you. For example, you are stopped driving 59 mph in a 50 mph zone. Anything between 0 and 9 miles over the speed limit usually carries a two-point ticket.
Anything that is 9 miles or over, so 10 miles, to 15 miles usually carries a four-point ticket. Anything that is 15 miles and over the speed limit – so, the speed limit was 50 and you’re going 67 or so – at that level, 15 miles or over the speed limit is generally a six-point ticket and a six-point ticket can suspend your license for 30 days in South Carolina.
Interviewer: That is a substantial suspension.
Freddy: Yes, it is something you have to watch for.
Interviewer: Is there a level above that?
Freddy: Anything above that is usually categorized as a reckless driving and you’re given a six-point ticket. You only start with a maximum of 12 points and that’s half of your points gone when you get a ticket for reckless driving.
Speed Traps, Lasers and Radars: What to Avoid
Interviewer: I see. How do police enforce speeding? Do they use radar or laser or do they just watch people? How are people normally caught for this?
Freddy: Generally, there will be something called a “speed trap” and let me cover speed traps for a moment. A speed trap is where you’re in a small town and maybe you’re traveling on a back highway and the speed limit was 55. By the time you get to the town, the speed limit drops down to 35 for a period of time as you’re going through the town. It may even drop again, down to 25, as you go through a central part of town. Then, after that, it picks back up to the 55.
During the time that it drops down to 35, it may drop down again to 25. You’re in what’s called “a speed trap,” where the speed limit drops down so low you’re essentially going at a crawl. There are police officers that are usually positioned on either side of the road or in parking lots waiting for you to go through there at a high rate of speed and then they stop you. That generates revenue for the city, town or little municipality and that is big business for them.
Interviewer: Well, besides speed traps, what’s commonly used? Is it radar or laser?
Freddy: Besides speed traps, what’s commonly used is going to be radar, where the officer has a radar gun in his or her hand. They also can use a laser, the newer technology where they can clock your speed using a laser device that they’ll have in his or her hand.
The Police May Work in Teams to Catch Speeding Cars
Sometimes they work in teams, where one officer will use a laser or radar to track speed from a stationary point, while the other officer will be in pursuit of the person that has gone in excess of that speed.
Interviewer: So, if you see a police officer on the highway, you slow down, you pass him. He doesn’t get onto the highway and you think you’re safe. Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, someone else pulls you over and that’s probably what happened. They were working in teams.
Freddy: That is exactly right. Or they work in tandem. And there’s something that’s important for people to know that I need to explain. There is something called “super speeder.” A super speeder is someone who goes 15 miles or over the posted speed limit. Anytime you go 15 miles or more over the posted speed limit, you’re categorized as a “super speeder.” That is a six point minimum ticket.
The fines are usually doubled or tripled and you can lose your license for 30 days. Your insurance rates will skyrocket. It’s very important if you are going through an area that you pay attention to the speed limit signs because you don’t want to be categorized as a super speeder.
Generally, in all the other states, they have a version of the super speeder law, which also stipulates that if you go over 15 miles or over, you will have to pay these high fines.
Interviewer: Well, that’s not even that fast, 15 miles over. I mean, this is probably an urban legend but I always thought if you go 10 miles over, that’s probably the max but 11 is no good. I imagine a lot of people drive that way. They’ll go 10 miles over the limit and think they’re safe.
Freddy: Well, the way that it works is that, let’s say, the officer sees you going 51 in a 50. You’re not really somebody that they’re going to waste their time on by going 1 mile over the speed limit. If you’re going 8 miles over the speed limit, they’re probably not going to stop you either but if you’re going close to 9 or 10 miles over the speed limit, now you have a traffic offense they can charge you for.
So 9, 10, 11 miles over the speed limit, they’re going to stop you. If they catch you on the radar and you’re going 58, you’re probably safe. If they see you going 60 or 61, you’ll probably get caught in that system. It has to be worth their time to write a ticket.
By Freddy Woods