If you are an out-of-state hunter in South Carolina and you accidentally commit a hunting violation, you could go to jail unless you can post bail on the spot, no matter how minor the charge.
One state legislator hopes to change that.
Rep. Bill Hixon (R-Aiken) says it’s because South Carolina is not part of the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact – a national agreement in which states officially recognize each others’ hunting licenses.
He compared the current law as similar to what would happen if police officers arrested an out-of-state driver for not having a South Carolina driver’s license during a traffic stop.
Hixon says requiring out-of-state hunters to go straight to prison is unnecessary, and game wardens often try to get around the law.
The game wardens in our state don’t want to lock people up… I’ve known, for instance, where they go around and take people to an ATM machine or take them to Momma and Daddy’s house to get the money to pay their fine so they won’t have to go to jail.
He says the solution is for South Carolina to join the national Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, recognized by more than 40 states.
Another problem is that Department of Natural Resources officials are not able to do background checks on hunters from other states. Hixon says those who are banned from hunting in a state like Georgia can still get a license in South Carolina.
If they got caught for doing something real bad and are outlawed forever to hunt in their state… they can come here and apply for a license and get it.
He says, by joining the compact, South Carolina will be able to access other states’ lists. DNR has said it supports the bill.
The legislation passed the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Tuesday. It will likely be taken up by the House next week.