Officer’s Observations vs Yours
Law enforcement in South Carolina are permitted to pull over vehicles on merely the suspicion that a law has been broken. In many cases, this suspicion stems from something that has been observed: swerving, a missing tail light or following another vehicle too closely. For drivers who choose to challenge these traffic tickets, it is important to realize that a court may end up ruling based on whose point of view is more credible.
Understanding Subjective Observations
There are some traffic violations that may be supported by hard evidence, such as tests that measure blood alcohol concentration. However, many tickets are issued based on something an officer has observed. Unfortunately, laws leave room for a subjective point of view. For example, under South Carolina law, making an unsafe turn could merit a citation. An officer may deem that the turn put other people at risk, though a driver could argue that the turn was done in accordance with the law. In these scenarios, it is important for motorists to understand how to build a compelling argument.
Fighting the Charge
South Carolina drivers have the right to fight a ticket based on challenging the subjective evidence an officer presents. Some common ways to construct a convincing argument include the following:
- Gathering statements from witnesses who can testify to the driver’s version of what occurred
- Recreating the scene of the incident through presenting photographs of the area, road conditions or other factors
- Pointing out any obstructions that could have prevented the officer from clearly seeing what occurred
In some cases, the position of the officer’s vehicle may easily show that the charge lacks credibility. For example, if the patrol car was behind a large truck at the time of the alleged infraction, a motorist may be able to demonstrate that the officer’s view was blocked.
Know the Consequences
Challenging a traffic ticket typically will take more time and effort than simply paying the fine. However, the long-term benefits of fighting the citation are often worth it. For many people, a ticket will equate to more expensive auto insurance and additional points on their driver’s license. Additionally, some people may face hefty fines and even a license suspension, depending on their driving record. In extreme circumstances, a driver could even face prison time as the result of a traffic ticket.
A driver is not guilty of an infraction simply because law enforcement says so. At Nosal & Jeter, LLP we know that there are many ways to challenge the credibility of an officer’s claim. We can help motorists in South Carolina preserve their driving record and their wallet following an unsubstantiated traffic violation. If you have specific questions about your citation, call our traffic lawyers today at (803) 351-3597.