What Are the Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License in South Carolina?

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Driving while your driver’s license is canceled, suspended, or revoked (commonly referred to as driving under suspension in South Carolina) is a criminal offense. Penalties for these violations can include possible fines and incarceration.

In some cases, people are completely unaware their licenses were not valid. Many others mistakenly assumed that their licenses had been reinstated because the underlying prohibited periods for suspension or revocation had passed.

Driver’s licenses are necessary to the professional and personal lives of many South Carolinians, and The Jeffcoat Firm aggressively defends clients all over South Carolina accused of driving on canceled, suspended, or revoked licenses. Our firm can provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

How Can My License Be Suspended in South Carolina?

A person may have their driver’s license canceled, suspended, or revoked for any one of a number of possible reasons in South Carolina. One of the most common reasons is an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC).

Some of the other reasons motorists may have driver’s licenses suspended in South Carolina include:

  • Driving without valid insurance
  • Unpaid tickets
  • Failure to pay child support
  • Failure to pay taxes or fees
  • Certain criminal convictions

Another very common reason for a license to be suspended concerns a motorist’s driving record. The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) uses a points system under which certain traffic violations will result in points being added to a driver’s record. A driver will have their license suspended when they accumulate 12 points.

South Carolina assigns the following point values for the following offenses:

  • Speeding (more than 25 mph over limit) — 6 points
  • Reckless driving — 6 points
  • Passing stopped school bus — 6 points
  • Hit and run with property damage — 6 points
  • Speeding (more than 10 mph but not more than 25 mph over limit) — 4 points
  • Failure to obey traffic control device or officer — 4 points
  • Failure to yield right of way — 4 points
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road — 4 points
  • Unlawful passing — 4 points
  • Unlawful turn — 4 points
  • Failure to signal — 4 points
  • Improper brakes — 4 points
  • Following too closely (tailgating) — 4 points
  • Speeding (10 mph or less over the limit) — 2 points
  • Improper lights — 2 points
  • Dangerous parking — 2 points
  • Operating vehicle in unsafe condition — 2 points
  • Improper lane usage — 2 points
  • Improper backing — 2 points

If you have accumulated 12 points from any combination of these offenses, you may have your license suspended.

What Happens If I Am Caught Driving on a Suspended License in South Carolina?

South Carolina Code § 56-1-460 establishes that a person commits a criminal offense when they operate a vehicle within the state while their license is canceled, suspended, or revoked. The possible consequences of a conviction for this crime depend on how many times a person has previously been convicted of this offense, with the statute providing the following punishments:

  • First Offense — $300 fine and/or up to 30 days in jail
  • Second Offense — $600 fine and/or up to 60 days in jail
  • Third or Subsequent Offense — $1,000 fine and/or up to 90 days in jail or confinement to person’s residence for a minimum of 90 days up to six months

South Carolina places different restrictions, however, on people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or narcotics. Under South Carolina Code § 56-1-460(A)(2), a person whose license has been suspended or revoked pursuant to South Carolina Code § 56-5-2990 can face the following penalties:

  • First Offense — $300 fine and/or a minimum of 10 days up to 30 days in jail
  • Second Offense — $600 fine and/or a minimum of 60 days up to six months in jail
  • Third or Subsequent Offense — $1,000 fine and/or a minimum of six months up to three years in jail

Can I Drive in South Carolina After My Suspension Period Is Over?

In virtually all cases, drivers must satisfy certain other requirements before they can legally get behind the wheel again. In some cases, the requirement is payment of a $100 reinstatement fee to the SCDMV, but other cases can involve multiple other stipulations.

Depending on a person’s specific situation, additional requirements could include:

  • Obtaining SR-22 insurance
  • Paying traffic tickets
  • Enrollment in South Carolina Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP)
  • Resolving driving issues in another state

Some people may be eligible for provisional driver’s licenses, route-restricted driver’s licenses, or temporary alcohol licenses during their suspension periods.

Reinstating Your License in South Carolina

The process of reinstating a driver’s license can be extremely difficult for the average person to handle on their own. Most people benefit from having legal representation for driver’s license reinstatement efforts.

Reinstatement matters can be further complicated if a motorist has been classified as a “habitual offender” by the SCDMV. Under South Carolina Code § 56-1-1020, a habitual offender is defined as any person who, within a three-year period, commits either 10 or more convictions for separate moving violations or three or more of the following victim convictions:

  • Voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, or reckless homicide caused by the operation of a motor vehicle
  • Operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while license, permit, or privilege to drive is suspended or revoked
  • Any offense punishable as a felony under South Carolina motor vehicle laws or any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used
  • Failure to stop at an accident and report identity

For habitual offenders, it is important to understand that a license is typically revoked for five years. Drivers, however, have the right to appeal suspensions within 30 days of receiving notice, and suspensions can be reduced after two years.

Contact Us for Legal Help with Your License Suspension Issues

The bottom line remains that people should always avoid driving on a canceled, suspended, or revoked license. When a license has been suspended, or a driver is arrested for driving on an invalid license, the motorist will want to quickly retain legal counsel.

The Jeffcoat Firm represents residents of Columbia and many other surrounding areas in South Carolina. Call us or contact us online right now to have our attorneys review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free consultation.

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