The average traffic stop in South Carolina results in personal frustration, a ticket and maybe increased insurance costs for the driver. However, if the police officer feels like the driver was particularly irresponsible, they might arrest them and charge them with a crime instead of just writing a ticket.
There are dozens of laws micromanaging how you drive on roadways. Many of them are specific. You probably realize that it is against the law to drive more quickly than the posted limit on a road or to merge without signaling. Fewer drivers understand how fine the line is between bad driving habits and a reckless driving charge.
Much is left to the officer’s discretion under state law
Unlike speeding, reckless driving is a misdemeanor criminal offense that carries fines and even the possibility of up to 30 days in jail for a first offense. It also means there will be a criminal record left behind even after someone pays their fines and wants to move on with their life.
Under South Carolina law, bad driving habits become reckless driving when they show a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others. In other words, the action has to be so obviously dangerous that the driver understands the risks they cause for others and chooses to drive that way anyway. Racing, excessive speeding or even driving the wrong way on a one-way street may all give rise to allegations of reckless driving depending on the officer involved in the traffic stop.
Understanding what constitutes reckless driving can help you fight back against one of the most serious traffic violations. Reaching out to an experienced attorney can help you prevent a traffic incident from saddling you with a lifelong criminal record.