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South Carolina town accused of illegal traffic citation program

A potentially illegal speeding ticket program in a South Carolina town is receiving a much-needed second look from representatives at the state attorney general's office. Turbeville, South Carolina, is accused of developing its own speeding ordinance that does not comply with the state's Uniform Traffic Code.

Those receiving a speeding ticket in the town may pay as much as $588 for the simple violation. The attorney general has issued an opinion stating that the town's speeding law and other similar regulations are "invalid." In fact, the legal expert's opinion claims that local governments cannot enforce penalties that are not listed in the Uniform Traffic Act.

Authorities in the town were soliciting higher payments from drivers, promising that the ticket would not have an effect on the drivers' license points. However, insurance companies and drivers soon found out that the promises were empty; in fact, those tickets were sent through the state system, resulting in an addition of license points. The state's traffic code requires a point addition and fine system. Drivers gained points even when they pleaded guilty to a traffic citation. Turbeville's ordinance attempts to do away with that state law.

State lawmakers are calling the town's system "highway robbery," and one man is even encouraging those who have received the tickets to file lawsuits. The state's law dictates that those traveling 25 mph or more over the speed limit should only be fined $380. The minimum amount paid for a speeding ticket is about $81. It appears that Turbeville authorities were assessing fines of $400 to $500 for even these minor offenses.

Defendants who have been treated unfairly by errant South Carolina municipalities may benefit from consulting a qualified attorney to help them learn more about their legal rights. These jurisdictions may have been abusing state law. Drivers should not be subject to unwarranted fines simply because a town is looking to increase its revenue.

Source: WIS TV, "WIS Investigates: Lawmakers working to end town's potentially illegal speeding ticket practice" Jody Barr, Jan. 30, 2014

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