The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Traffic Laws
Have you ever heard of something being referred to as a primary law but you weren’t sure what that meant? Many people may be unaware that when it comes to traffic laws, there is a process that governs when an officer can pull you over. For example, there are some offenses for which law enforcement cannot ticket you unless another violation is present. Understanding the difference between primary and secondary offenses can help protect you from unnecessary citations.
A primary offense is one for which a law enforcement can pull over your vehicle and issue you a citation. In South Carolina, those violations can include:
- Failure to stop at a light or stop sign
- Following another vehicle too closely
- Suspicion of driving while intoxicated
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, the state has also made a seat belt violation a primary offense, which means that if an officer notices that you or any of your passengers are not buckled in, you may be pulled over and ticketed. Both of the Carolinas have also passed primary texting bans for all drivers.
You can only receive a ticket for a secondary offense if a member of law enforcement pulls you over for a primary offense. For example, in North Carolina, having a passenger in the rear seat who is not wearing a seat belt is considered a secondary offense. Therefore, an officer cannot pull over your vehicle solely on the basis that he or she noticed that someone in your backseat was not wearing a seat belt. However, if you are pulled over for speeding and the officer sees a rear seat passenger not wearing a belt, he or she may receive a ticket.
What To Do After Receiving a Ticket
If you receive a traffic citation, regardless of it is primary or secondary, you may want to get in touch with an attorney. Even seemingly minor tickets can have a large impact on your driving record and car insurance rates. While a seat belt violation will not necessarily affect your insurance, it could affect your wallet. In the Carolinas, the ticket will merit a $25 fine as well as the possibility of having to pay upward of $100 in court costs.
At Nosal & Jeter, LLP our attorneys have spent years representing clients facing traffic offenses from small tickets to criminal charges. Our South Carolina attorney is a former police officer who has worked within the court systems of both states and understands how the law applies – and does not apply – to client’s situations. Using innovating solutions, we can help reduce or dismiss charges and protect your freedom. Allow us to help you challenge your traffic citation and preserve your driving record and your wallet.