South Carolina Court Administration

South Carolina Supreme Court
Columbia, South Carolina




TELEPHONE:  (803) 734-1800
FAX:  (803) 734-1355


TO: Magistrates and Municipal Judges


S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, S.C. Department of Public Safety, S C. State Law Enforcement Division, S.C. Sheriffs Association, S C. Law Enforcement Officers Association

FROM: Bob McCurdy, Assistant Director

RE: Amended Uniform Traffic Ticket; Reduction/Change of Charge

DATE: November 7, 2016

The uniform traffic ticket (UTT) (S-438, revised 6-2014) has been amended so as to reformat the ticket into the six following sections: Violator, Vehicle, Trial Court, Violation, Arrest Officer, and Court Information. This change creates a more logical flow to the ticket and should make the ticket easier to complete by law enforcement, understand by the offender and complete by the trial court.

In addition to formatting, other changes were made to the UTT. Of particular note, while the amended ticket maintains a field for “Violation”, a field for “Charge Convicted Of” has been added to indicate on the ticket the charge pled to or convicted of if different from the original charge. Based on South Carolina case lawi, a UTT may be amended to a lesser charge from the original offense charged only if the offense pled to or convicted of is a lesser included offense of the original charge. In that case, the lesser included offense pled to or convicted of would be so indicated in the “Charge Convicted Of” field. However, if the State is unable to prosecute the original offense charged, and the facts present in the case will sustain a plea or conviction to a lesser charge which is not a lesser included offense of the original charge, the UTT must be nolle prossed and another UTT written and served on the defendant charging the lesser charge.

Accordingly, the following traffic offenses may be reduced on the face of the newly revised UTT to the lesser included offenses indicated below.

In order for any other traffic offense to be reduced or changed to another charge, the original UTT must be nolle prossed prior to trial and a new UTT written and served on the defendant. Provided below are common examples in which the original UTT would have to be nolle prossed and a new UTT written in order for the court to have jurisdiction to dispose of the case.

If a defendant is originally charged with an offense that requires incarceration and booking, and the charge is reduced or changed to an offense that would not require incarceration and booking, the court should follow the normal expungement process provided in S.C. Code §17-22-950 to expunge the records held at SLED on the original charge. Also, if the original charge did not require booking, and was reduced or changed to a subsequent charge that does not require booking, the normal expungement process would be utilized to expunge the original charge. However, when a defendant is charged with an offense which required incarceration and booking, and that charge is reduced or changed to an offense which would have required incarceration and booking, the defendant's criminal record at SLED must be amended to reflect the subsequent charge. SLED has developed two forms which will direct that the fingerprints associated with the original charge be changed to the subsequent charge under those circumstances. The use of the forms avoids having to rebook the defendant on the subsequent charge. The forms and their use are addressed below.

Order of Offense Modification/Lesser Included (SCCA 773, 11/2016): This document is to be used to direct the change of fingerprint cards when the charge pled to or convicted of is a lesser included offense of the original charge and is written on the same UTT. Strict adherence to these guidelines is required.

Modification and Changes form (CJ-044, 8/28/2015): This document is to be used to direct the change of fingerprint cards when the charge pled to or convicted of is not a lesser included offense of the original charge, thereby requiring the nolle prosse of the original charge and the rewrite of a subsequent charge.  All involved in the process must strictly adhere to the following guidelines:

The forms are attached and should be implemented into CMS within the next few weeks. For those courts who are not on CMS, please provide these documents to your case management system vendor for implementation. In the meantime, you may load them on your computers as we have provided form fillable versions. Due to the nature of these forms, they will not be made available on the Judicial Department’s website.

There will understandably be a learning curve to this process, but we ask that you initiate this into your court process immediately. Please provide a copy of this document and/or the attached summary document to your local prosecutors and law enforcement. Should you have questions concerning this matter, please contact this office.

i See: State v. Fennell, 263 S.C. 216 (1974) in which the Supreme Court held that reckless driving was not a lesser offense included within offense of driving under influence of intoxicants, thus, absent issuance of a uniform traffic ticket or a warrant charging the accused with reckless driving, the magistrate was without jurisdiction to accept a plea of guilty to such offense by the accused who had been charged with driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquors. The accused cannot wave compliance with statutory requirements essential to magistrate’s acquiring jurisdiction of particular offense. Also see: Campbell v. State, 342 S.C. 100 (2000) in which the Supreme Court held that circuit court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear a guilty plea unless (1) there has been an indictment which sufficiently states the offense; (2) there has been a waiver of indictment; or (3) the charge is a lesser included charge of the crime charged in the indictment.

ii SCDMV has indicated that DUS charges reduced to lower subsequent offenses will receive the DL suspension term based on the defendant's prior record. However, effective January 1, 2017, Act No. 185 of 2016 amends S.C. Code §56-1-365(D) to provide that if a defendant is already under suspension for a previous offense at the time of his conviction or plea, the court shall use its discretion in determining if the period of suspension for the subsequent offense runs consecutively or commences upon the expiration of the suspension or revocation for the prior offense, or if the period of suspension for the subsequent offense runs concurrently with the suspension or revocation of the prior offense.

Summary of Process for Reduction or Change of Charges on UTT