When does speeding turn into reckless driving in South Carolina?

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2021 | Traffic Violations

Most drivers break speed limits at least some of the time. Despite knowing that such rules are designed to prevent traffic collisions and fatalities, the temptation of getting somewhere just a little bit faster is hard for people to resist.

For some people, speeding becomes a habit that gradually worsens over time. When they almost always drive five miles over the speed limit and never get pulled over by police, they might start going a little more over the limit.

At some point, drivers going far faster than they should on public roads could find themselves dealing with an upset police officer, even if there isn’t any other traffic nearby. The officer could issue a speeding ticket, but they might also decide that your behavior actually constitutes reckless driving. What rule determines if someone was going too fast or driving recklessly?

How does South Carolina define reckless driving?

South Carolina defines reckless driving as the willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or personal property when driving a motor vehicle. In other words, the intent of the driver and the potential impact of their excessive speed on other people will influence how a police officer handles a traffic stop.

Officers have to determine the intent of the driver and how much risk their behavior created for the local community. If they feel that the driving was particularly dangerous, they have the right to upgrade the offense from a speeding infraction to a reckless driving charge.

Instead of a standard ticket offense or civil infraction, reckless driving is a misdemeanor crime. You could have the charge added to your criminal record and have six points added to your license. You could also face fines and up to 30 days in jail. When you consider that 12 points is enough to lose your license, a six-point addition to your existing score could be enough to temporarily end your driving privileges.

Defending against reckless driving by challenging an officer’s perspective

Whether your actions were reckless driving or simply speeding depends mostly on the opinion of the officer who stopped you and the judge who hears your case in court.

Presenting your version of events, challenging the accuracy of the recorded speed or making it clear your actions did not stem from a disregard for the safety of others are all options that may help you fight back against reckless driving charges and avoid the consequences a conviction can carry.