On 18 Feb 2012 my husband and I were driving back to VA from GA after a 2 week military school. We had the misfortune of driving through the small town of Society Hill, SC. This town was incredibly small - but the speed limit changed several times while driving through the town. I was maintaining the spped limit as best as I could while also trying to keep track of my impending left hand turn onto US52. When my turn came, there were 2 cars coming in the opposite direction which made me slow to an almost complete stop.
After the cars passed, I made my left. As soon as I made my left, I saw an unmarked brand new Dodge Charger pulling out of a dusty little parking area on the side of US52. It was obvious the car was a policeman. I looked down at my speedometer and found that it was just below 40. My husband looked at the speedmeter at about the same time, seeing the policeman as well, and said I was doing around 40 - he couldn't see the exact speed from the passenger seat. I had no idea what the speed limit was - but the last sign I saw was for 35 so I assumed it was still 35.
There was a 55mph speed limit sign soon after the turn. My foot was off of the gas until I rolled into the 55 and then I started to accelerate. As soon as I did - the policeman turned his lights on. I immediately pulled over. He came to the driver side of the rental car and asked me if I knew why he was pulling me over. I told him no. He asked me if I knew what the speed limit was at the turn onto 52 and I told him I thought it was 35. He asked me how fast I was going. I told him I thought I was going between 35 and 40. He told me I took the turn at 54.
I told him I didn't think I did. He asked me if anybody had been in front of me an I told him I didn't think so - he told me no, told me again that I was doing 54 and then asked me for my drivers license and registration. I handed him my license and the rental car agreement. He took my information and went back to his car. He returned a few minutes later with a $185.63 ticket. I told him again that I did not think I was going as fast as he said I was and asked him how I could fight it.
He responded that the only way I could fight it was to show up in court. By this time - I will admit - I was angry and my response was something along the lines of "ya, that's real convenient for out of towners, but you already know that". I called the Town of Society Hill first thing Tuesday morning, Monday was a holiday. I was told if I would just plead guilty, they would reduce the amount of my ticket, but if I maintained that the police officer was wrong then I would need to show up in court. I then went to my military chain of command since I was on orders when I got pulled over.
My Chief has been talking to the town's Police Chief all week and the final outcome today was that I can pay the $185.63 and get 4 points on my license - or I can pay $350.00 and I will get no points. I wasn't doing the speed the officer accused my of - although, if he truly did pick that speed on his radar, I believe it may have been one of the cars going in the opposite direction, so neither of those options seems right. Not to mention - the second option sounds an awful lot like extortion. After doing a fairly extensive search on this town - they are apparently very well known for unfairly targeting out of state drivers who don't have the means to fight the ticket in person.