USC students targeted for jaywalking crackdown in Columbia

Local News

Parents of University of South Carolina students be warned about  an expensive crackdown on jaywalking.

On Wednesday morning, USC junior and Summerville native Jake Patrick was crossing Assembly Street and College Street on his way to class. Once he crossed the street, he says an officer approached him and the group he was walking with to question them.

“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. When the officer returned from his vehicle, he handed each of the students a $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,” Patrick said.   The ticket denoted four points would be put against Patrick’s license.

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, according to WIS-TV.

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.

A police department spokesperson told WIS-TV in Columbia the department is targeting specific areas around downtown Columbia, the USC campus and business districts.

“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.

As for the points on his license, Columbia police told WIS-TV 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.

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, according to WIS-TV.

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 they 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 he’ll risk being late to class next time.

“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 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.