Don't get caught jaywalking in Columbia, it could cost you $232
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Columbia Police Department is cracking down on people crossing the street illegally in an attempt to minimize the number of accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians.
The department said it is targeting specific areas around downtown Columbia, the USC campus and business districts that see a high volume of pedestrians.
While the law has been enforced for decades, traffic safety officers are issuing warnings and in some instances, steep fines, for those caught violating the law.
"I see people crossing during the hand sign signal a lot and in different business districts where I've been able to conduct enforcement I also see it happening mid-block where they're just trying to get across and don't want to wait for the sign which is really unsafe," Master Patrol Officer Orlando Santos of the Columbia Police Department said.
Santos said while many people consider crossing the street outside of a crosswalk illegal, it is also illegal to cross an intersection within a crosswalk if the red hand signal is displayed.
On Wednesday morning, USC junior Jake Patrick said he was crossing Assembly Street and College Street to head back to the center of campus, as he does most days. However, after he and a group of students had successfully crossed the street, he said they were approached by a Columbia police officer.
"He was like, did you guys have the red hand or the white man to walk and we were like, the red hand I guess," Patrick said.
The officer then asked for their driver's licenses according to Patrick and said he would return shortly. When he did, he handed each of the students at $232 ticket.
"I'm halfway down the road and I look at the ticket and it's $232 and I'm shocked," he said. "That seems like an insane amount of money for jaywalking."
The ticket also said four points would be put against Patrick's license as a result of the violation. Columbia police said when tickets are written, the software assumes it is meant for a vehicle in violation. As a result, the four points are auto-populated on the ticket. Santos said a trip to the DMV will likely result in that portion of the ticket being voided.
Comparatively, Columbia police said a ticket for driving 10 mph over the speed limit is around $76. If you're caught going 14 mph over, the ticket jumps to $128.
The department said it does not set the fine for illegally crossing the street. Instead, it said the state legislature does. CPD says that $100 is considered the base fine, while the remaining $132 is dedicated to court fees.
Officers with the department's traffic safety unit are dedicated to patrolling and ensuring pedestrians are not crossing the street illegally. In some areas, it said it will issue warnings. However, in some of the more prone areas where previous awareness campaigns have taken place, a ticket may be issued without a warning or grace period.
Patrick said the ticket will cause him to think twice before crossing the road illegally moving forward.
That light is just a really long light to wait on in general," he said. "I mean I could be waiting five or six minutes and again, if I'm walking 15 minutes to class I'll be late to class if I don't go ahead and cross the street."
Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved.