South Carolina Speeding Laws

In addition to "absolute speed limits" (see below), South Carolina's "basic speeding law" prohibits driving at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. (S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-1520(a) & (c) (2017).)     

Penalty for Exceeding Speed Limit

A first-time speeding violator may be:

  • fined between $15 and $200
  • sentenced to jail time of not more than 30 days, and
  • the violator’s license may be suspended three to six months.

Penalty for Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is defined as driving in a way that shows “a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” For a first violation, a motorist faces up to 30 days in jail or $25 to $200 in fines.

(Read more about South Carolina's reckless driving laws and the penalties for a conviction.)

Speed Limits

South Carolina's absolute speed limits are:

  • 70 miles per hour on the interstate highway system and other freeways
  • 60 miles per hour on multilane divided primary highways
  • 55 miles per hour in other locations or on other sections of highways
  • 40 miles per hour on unpaved roads, and
  • 30 miles per hour in an urban district.

South Carolina Speeding Laws

South Carolina has what is known as an “absolute speed limit" law. There is no trick to how this works: If the sign says 40 miles per hour and you drive 41 miles per hour or more, you have violated the law. In other words, you are guilty if you drive over the speed limit. In South Carolina you may be able to make three possible defenses:

  • attacking the officer’s determination of your speed (to do this you must discover what method the officer used to cite you and then learn about the ways to attack that particular method)
  • claiming an emergency forced you to exceed the speed limit to avoid serious damage or injury to yourself or others, and
  • claiming that the officer mistook your car for another car (with so many similar-looking cars, it is possible that a cop could see a speeding car, lose sight of it around a corner, and then wrongly pick out your car farther down the road).

Note that in South Carolina you can be ticketed for driving at an unsafe speed, even if that speed does not violate the posted limit—for example, driving exactly at the maximum posted limit on the freeway amidst slower and heavy traffic, in a dense fog, or in a driving rainstorm or blizzard.

Point System

An offender, who accumulates 12 to 15 points, is subject a three-month suspension. If they accumulate 16 or 17 points, the suspension is four months. If they accumulate 18 or 19 points, the suspension is five months. And, if they accumulate 20 or more points, the suspension is six months.

A person may obtain special restricted driving privileges to operate a motor vehicle to and from either a place where they are either employed or a college or university where they are enrolled provided they live more than one mile from the place of employment or educational facility. Points are computed in the following manner. Points for offenses committed within the immediate 12 months from the present offense are counted at full value. However, points for offenses that have been committed more than 12 months but less than 24 months from the present offense from the immediate offense are reduced to half of their full value. Note: Points are not assigned for offenses committed more than 24 months from the present offense.

(Learn more about South Carolina's point system, including the point values for different violations.)

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