North Myrtle Beach traffic case involving Rep. Tracy Edge resolved

troot@thesunnews.comJuly 16, 2013 

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— State Rep. Tracy Edge has paid a $653 fine and settled the citations issued by North Myrtle Beach police last year after he was arrested on a driver’s license suspension charge, according to officials.

Edge was charged Sept. 27 with driving under suspension and given a warning for driving left of center after he crossed the lane of travel.

On Tuesday, Pat Dowling, North Myrtle Beach city spokesman, said Edge has paid a $653 fine in full in connection with the incident.

Edge had previously been scheduled for a trial on the DUS charge to begin Monday.

“I was still going to court to maintain my innocence but was pleased the city came forward with a deal,” Edge said. “I think I could’ve been easily cleared. I’d already paid everything that needed to be paid before, and I was not driving illegally, nor would I have done so.”

Edge – who was re-elected to S.C. House District 104 in November – had his license suspended on Sept. 13 because he failed to pay a speeding ticket, according to records with the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.

After he was stopped, Edge maintained that he had taken care of the matter on Sept. 24, three days before his arrest. He said he followed the instructions he received from the DMV and paid the ticket and a reinstatement fee, but a lag in the computer systems meant the reinstatement was not immediate.

At the time Edge, who has served in the House since 1996, was stopped, he said he did not have the paperwork with him showing he had paid the ticket online, and the DMV records had not been updated.

Once city prosecutors learned that Edge had remedied the DUS charge, Dowling said the city attorney offered Edge the opportunity to plead guilty to the three counts of no registration in possession. The charge was dismissed and the fine paid on Thursday.

The dismissal and lesser charges being filed is typical in such cases, Dowling said.

“Typically, when the city finds that a person who has been charged with DUS has remedied the cause for that charge and can also demonstrate that his or her driver’s license has since been reinstated, the city will offer them the opportunity to plead to an alternative charge or charges equal to the original fine,” Dowling said.

“The city does this because it prefers not to affix another DUS conviction to their record, which would cause their driver’s license to be suspended again, and would effectively place them into a continuing negative spiral.”

The suspension on Edge’s driver’s license was lifted Oct. 2, according to the DMV records.

In the Sept. 27 incident, a North Myrtle Beach police officer said he was traveling south on Ocean Boulevard at 41st Avenue North at 3:51 a.m. when he saw a blue sport utility vehicle leave a northbound lane of Ocean Boulevard and veer into the southbound lane, “almost colliding with my patrol vehicle,” according to a police incident report.

The officer stopped the 2008 Ford Expedition, identified Edge as the driver and discovered that his license had been suspended, according to the report.

Edge told the officer that he had paid the fine and a reinstatement fee by mail on Sept. 24, but he did not have proof of the payment in his possession.

The officer noted in his report that Edge “was sober and stated that he had taken his eyes off the road for a moment and started to swerve into oncoming traffic.”

The vehicle was released to Edge’s brother after Edge was taken into custody, according to the report.

Edge was released from the North Myrtle Beach jail after posting a $653 cash bail.

Edge’s court case involving the speeding ticket came up on the last day of the legislative session and he said he thought he had been granted a continuance.

He learned that had not been granted when received a letter from the DMV at the end of September about the suspension.

Horry County court records show Edge was ticketed for driving 10 mph or less over the speed limit on May 17.

He was found guilty in absentia during a bench trial on July 17, which was the last day of the legislative session.

Edge also was charged with speeding no greater than 10 miles per hour on April 29, and was found guilty following a bench trial on Aug. 14. Edge, who did not appear for that hearing, was fined an unspecified amount, according to the court records.

He received two points on his license after he paid that fine.

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.

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