The Costs of not Paying a Traffic Citation- Safety Belt Law

Most of us have received a traffic citation once or possibly several times in our lives. But what you may not know is what happens if you don’t pay the fine on the traffic citation. Recently, a friend called and told me that her license had been suspended. She currently lives in Myrtle Beach but she is from Maryland. Her mother had told her she had received a letter in the mail in Maryland with the notification that her license had been suspended. My friend, Lilly had received a traffic citation for failing to wear her seatbelt. She failed to pay the fine by the deadline and thus her license was suspended.

A person’s license can be suspended for simply failing to comply with the traffic citation as in Lily’s case.  South Carolina law provides that within 12 months from the date a citation was issued, a court must notify the Department of Public Safety. The Department of Public Safety will then notify the driver’s home state of her failure to comply with the terms of the citation. In turn, the home state will begin procedures to suspend the driver’s license of the driver. This is exactly what happened in Lily’s case. Lily received a citation for breaking the safety belt law. The fine was small, at only $25.00. But, her failure to pay the small fine ended up costing her a great deal more than $25.00; it cost her, her license.

South Carolina’s safety belt law mandates that every driver and occupant of a motor vehicle wear a fastened safety belt. The driver is responsible for ensuring that every occupant in the vehicle at the age of 17 or younger wears a safety belt.  There are exceptions, for example, the law does not apply to school, church, or day care buses or to United States mail carriers. Law enforcement officers are able to stop a driver if the officer has a clear and unobstructed view of the driver or occupant of the motor vehicle not wearing a safety belt.  Citations for safety belt violations are subject to a fine not more than $25.00.  If there is a single incident including more than one violation, for instance, both the driver and passenger are without seatbelts, the fine may not exceed $50.00. If you fail to pay a traffic citation fine and as a result your license is suspended and you continue to drive on a suspended license, the penalty can reach jail time of up to 30 days and/or a $300 dollar fine for a first offense.

A license to operate a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. Therefore, the police have the power to regulate and enforce traffic laws to protect society at large.  But, this police power is subject to restrictions. For example, the police cannot revoke a person’s license arbitrarily or capriciously. If you think the police have exceeded their scope of authority then contact Daniel Selwa. Also, you can contest a traffic violation and if you feel you have wrongly been issued a citation, then Daniel Selwa can assist you as well. 

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