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South Carolina traffic stop -- devastating to one man

The state of South Carolina recently saw some bad press centered on their strict enforcement of a traffic citation. The whole ordeal aptly underscored how a simple speeding ticket or other traffic violation can have a life-changing impact if that ticket is not dealt with in a proper manner.

A licensed truck driver who lives outside of South Carolina was the unsuspecting motorist caught up in the mess. Back in 2009, the man was on his way to Florida when he was pulled over and cited for speeding in Hampton County, South Carolina. The brief encounter with law enforcement during that traffic stop led to something a little more than a speeding ticket.

Police found some marijuana located in the glove compartment of the driver's vehicle. The officer issued the driver a ticket for simple possession of marijuana. The driver was also told to return back to South Carolina where he was supposed to stand in front of a magistrate in Varnville.

Possibly thinking that paying the fine would appease authorities in South Carolina, the man never returned to stand in front of the magistrate, but did issue payment for the ticket. Even though the truck driver would later contend that magistrate did not have the jurisdiction to convict him for his alleged crimes, the magistrate convicted him anyway.

As a result, the man had his license suspended for six months in South Carolina. Worse yet, the man's home state of Delaware suspended his license for two years, which is a devastating punishment considering he drives for a living.

The man briefly ducked the punishment when he appealed for post-conviction relief. However, the state of South Carolina appealed the decision, sending the case to the South Carolina Supreme Court. The high court sided with South Carolina and the ruling stands.

In this case, it would have been helpful for the driver to consult with a legal professional before making the decision to not make his initial court appearance. Had he consulted with an attorney, he may have been able to avoid the legal fallout that ultimately transpired.

Source: Savannah Morning News, "S.C. Supreme Court upholds Hampton County traffic ticket," April 11, 2012

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