WIS Investigates: Other towns, cities undermining state's traffi - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

WIS Investigates: Other towns, cities undermining state's traffic laws

(Source: Jody Barr) (Source: Jody Barr)

We told you about the legislature's plans to ban South Carolina towns from creating their own speeding laws and then charging drivers inflated fines.

After our reports aired, we heard from many viewers through email, social media, and our tip lines identifying other towns with speeding laws similar to Turbeville, the subject of our stories.

These messages identified several other towns that are offering no license point penalties in exchange for a fine. We dug deeper and found 18 towns offering this deal. There are likely many more.

State Sen. Larry Grooms, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, is looking into the fines.

"It didn't look right on face value and we have a history in South Carolina of small towns overstepping its boundaries," said Grooms.

Grooms is working to stop small towns across the state from trading drivers high speeding fines, in exchange for no point penalties. Some call the ticket "careless operation," while others call it "thoughtless operation." Both offer drivers the same deal.

Grooms says the legislature passed a point penalty for a reason. Not following it, he says, is putting lives at risk.

"The points system was put in there for public safety," said Grooms. "Once you take that out and try to extract more money out of a motorist, then you have to ask yourself, is this about public safety or is this about generating revenue?"

The highest fines we found came out ofTurbeville. They're handing out $588 fines to speeders. Turbeville created its own law and refuses to follow the state's uniform traffic code.

There is a list of other towns we found with speeding ordinances: Andrews, Aynor, Bowman, Greeleyville, Hartsville, Heath Springs, Ridgeway, Salley, Santee, Society Hill, South Congaree, Springdale, St. Matthews, Summerton, Swansea, Turbeville, Wagener, and West Columbia.

The highest fine we found was $300 out of St. Matthews. The rest are charging drivers between $100 and $280. We found no uniformity between any of the 18 towns we checked on.

"We want uniform enforcement. We want uniform actions," said Grooms. "This is not uniform, this is something different. This is unusual instead of what's occurring across our state. So, we need to look at it and we need to address it legislatively if that's what it takes."

That's exactly what Grooms and a house lawmaker are doing right now. They want towns with these speeding ordinances to know they're possibly violating state law and the legislature is working this year to stop it.

The Senate Transportation Committee has a group of senators investigating the legality of the municipal ordinances. Those senators are working to schedule their first hearing.

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