Driving is one of the most common ways to travel in the United States. In South Carolina alone, there are nearly two million registered vehicles on the road. Due to this high number, traffic officers are often out and ticketing drivers in an attempt to keep the road safer. While most traffic tickets are not serious offenses, traffic crimes can have severe consequences for the driver. A traffic crime may result in license suspension, high fines, and even jail time.
These offenses may become a part of your permanent record as a misdemeanor or a felony and can impact your ability to provide for yourself and your loved ones. However, many drivers are not aware of their rights when they have been charged with a traffic crime, which greatly increases the likelihood of receiving penalties. An attorney can help you fight back against this accusation and protect yourself against punishment.
If you or a loved one are facing a traffic crime in the Columbia area, you need legal representation to help you fight back. The traffic crime attorneys at Truslow & Truslow have years of experience with traffic law, and we are understanding of your circumstances. We are the representation you can trust to work for hardest for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Traffic Crimes
With more than 40 years of combined experience as South Carolina defense attorneys, we at Truslow & Truslow have successfully defended many people in our state accused of traffic crimes. Throughout the years, our defendants have asked us many questions about their cases – these are some of the frequently asked questions we receive.
What Types of Driving Can Result in a Vehicular Manslaughter Charge?
If you are charged with vehicular manslaughter, it is typically because the responding police officer cited you for one or more forms of illegal driving. These can include:
- Reckless driving: If you are traveling at a high rate of speed or weaving in and out of lanes, that is considered reckless driving. Hitting and killing someone in another car while doing this may result in a vehicular manslaughter charge.
- Driving while fatigued: It is recommended to avoid operating a motor vehicle when you are fatigued or drowsy; a drowsy driver is much more likely to cause an accident, and it can be easy to fall asleep at the wheel and drift over into oncoming traffic, killing someone else in a head-on collision.
- Driving under the influence: If you drive while drunk or under the influence of another drug and cause a motor vehicle crash that kills an occupant in the other vehicle, that is grounds for vehicular manslaughter.
- Distracted driving: Any form of distracted driving, such as texting while driving, looking down at the radio, or taking your eyes off the road increases the likelihood of you hitting someone else and causing a fatal crash.
- Driving with a state violation: For example, if your windshield is severely cracked and impedes your ability to see while driving and you hit someone, this may result in a vehicular manslaughter charge.
Do I Have to Hire an Attorney for My Traffic Crimes Case?
You do not have to hire an attorney, but it is recommended to have legal representation if you are accused of a traffic crime. Having someone on your side who knows the law will be extremely beneficial for you during your court case. They can work to find ways to possibly get your charges dropped or to reduce your sentence or the fine levied against you. They’ll also communicate skillfully with the prosecuting attorney in the event of a plea bargain.
What Does Being Criminally Negligent Mean?
If you are accused of being criminally negligent, this is a more severe charge than negligence. Criminal negligence means that you exhibited extremely egregious driving behaviors, such as traveling at high rates of speed and hitting someone, or speeding while driving under the influence. In some instances, this could even apply to texting while driving.
What Can I Do if I Was Charged with Driving under the Influence?
In South Carolina, driving under the influence is a very serious crime. The state may bring charges against you that include both fines and jail time. The severity of those charges will also depend on any previous convictions that may be on your record. A defense attorney will listen to your case and try to determine ways that your charges can either be reduced or even thrown out if there is a question about how evidence was collected to prove your DUI.
Can I Still Drive if I’m Charged with a DUI?
More often than not, if you are charged with a DUI, your drivers’ license will be suspended for a period of six months or longer. Your attorney can help you challenge the suspension and apply for a temporary alcohol license, which lets you drive a car, but only if you stay within the state of South Carolina. You may also be able to obtain a route-restricted license that will only permit you to drive to work or school. Do not drive until you get one of these licenses, as getting pulled over with a suspended license can be detrimental to your DUI case.
What Can Happen to Me if I Drive with a Suspended License?
If you are caught driving with a suspended license in South Carolina and it is your first violation, you could be facing either 30 days in jail or a $300 fine, or both. A second violation will result in a $600 fine, 60 days in jail, or both. If you are caught doing it again, then a $1000 fine will be levied against you, and you could be looking at 90 days to six months of house arrest. Your traffic crimes attorney can try to work with the court on your sentencing.
Traffic Crime Practice Areas
A traffic crime differs from other traffic violations because these offenses are punishable by jail time. This indicates that the act is typically more severe and has likely resulted in property damage, injury of another person, or another form of endangerment. However, just as with any other crime, you have the right to a trial by jury in order to prove your innocence or reduce your sentence.
Our experienced attorneys are prepared to represent you in a multitude of traffic crime cases, including:
- DUI: There are many strategies to defend against a DUI or DWI case, and our traffic crime attorneys are well-versed in them all. Your defense lawyer will work to prove that you were wrongfully arrested, your breathalyzer test was inaccurate, or many other acceptable defenses. With these strategies, we may be able to get your charges dismissed or reduced.
- Driving while suspended: If you are stopped and the police officer realizes you are driving with a suspended license, you could face hefty fines or jail time. Our attorneys will work with you to try and reduce those fines and jail times in court. We can also help you apply for a route-restricted license so that you can still commute to work or school.
- Reckless driving: A reckless driving charge can add points to your license or can even result in jail time, depending on where you were pulled over, as well as whether or not your reckless driving happened while you were driving under the influence. Our defense attorneys will work with the courts and prosecuting attorneys to reduce your sentence, fine, or any other penalties imposed.
- Vehicular manslaughter: Unfortunately, car crashes sometimes result in fatalities. Even if you were not under the influence when you were found at fault for an auto wreck, you may still be charged with vehicular manslaughter if someone in the other vehicle dies. The attorneys at Truslow & Truslow will defend you and try to get you the lightest sentence possible, no matter the circumstances surrounding the wreck.
In each of these cases, the burden of proof falls on the government that has charged you with the offense. This is a particularly difficult task to perform, and it means that with the appropriate legal representation you are much more likely to receive a reduced sentence.
Contact a Columbia Traffic Crimes Attorney
Traffic crimes are serious charges, which can have devastating results on your life. The Columbia traffic crimes attorneys at Truslow & Truslow have years of traffic law experience and are prepared to help you through this process. We will treat your case with compassion and offer the legal counsel and aid to ensure you are treated fairly throughout your trial. You do not have to let a traffic crime charge ruin your life, and we are prepared to help.