How does SC’s driving points system work? When does the SCDMV suspend your license for accumulation of driving points?
Below, we will discuss the basics of the driving points system in SC, including:
- How many points are assessed for different types of violations,
- When an accumulation of points results in a license suspension,
- What to do if you have a license suspension for points accumulation, and
- How you can reduce the driving points on your record.
How Many Driving Points are Assessed for a Traffic Violation in SC?
Some traffic violations in SC carry a penalty of driving points – the more serious the offense, the more points are assessed against your license.
SC Code §56-1-720 contains a list of driver’s license points that are assessed based on the offense committed:
|Passing stopped school bus||6|
|Hit & Run, property damage only||6|
|Driving too Fast for Conditions or Speeding 10 mph or less over the limit||2|
|Driving too Fast for Conditions or Speeding more than 10 mph but less than 25 mph over the limit||4|
|Driving too Fast for Conditions or Speeding 25 mph or more over the limit||6|
|Disobedience of any official traffic control device||4|
|Disobedience to officer directing traffic||4|
|Failing to yield right of way||4|
|Driving on wrong side of road||4|
|Driving through or within safety zone||4|
|Shifting lanes without safety precaution||2|
|Improper dangerous parking||2|
|Following too closely||4|
|Failing to dim lights||2|
|Operating with improper lights||2|
|Operating with improper brakes||4|
|Operating vehicle in an unsafe condition||2|
|Driving in improper lane||2|
|Endangerment of a highway worker, no injury||2|
|Endangerment of a highway worker, injury results||4|
License Suspensions for Accumulation of Driving Points
If you accumulate 12 or more driving points, your license will be suspended. SC Code §56-1-740 provides the length of suspension based on the number of driving points accumulated:
Periods of suspension of the license or privilege of a person for various accumulation of points must be as follows, with the person having the privilege to request a review of his driving record:
(1) twelve to fifteen points-three months’ suspension;
(2) sixteen or seventeen points-four months’ suspension;
(3) eighteen or nineteen points-five months’ suspension;
(4) twenty points and over-six months’ suspension.
Collateral Consequences for Accumulation of Driving Points/ Traffic Violations
Apart from suspension of your driver’s license for accumulation of points, there are other not-obvious potential consequences for multiple traffic offense convictions – these are reasons to fight every traffic violation before you begin accumulating points on your license.
- Insurance premiums: after even a single traffic violation, your insurance company is likely to raise your insurance premiums. After some traffic offenses, if your license is not suspended, you may be required to carry SR-22 insurance.
- Habitual traffic offender status: the DMV will revoke your license pursuant to SC Code §56-1-1020 if you accumulate ten or more convictions within three years for any traffic offense that carries four or more driving points or if you accumulate three or more convictions within three years for more serious traffic violations (including DUI, DUS, reckless driving, or any felony that involves a motor vehicle).
- Job loss: if you drive for a living, you may lose your job if you have convictions for traffic offenses, and you may lose your CDL – both reasons to fight any traffic offense to get a dismissal, rewrite to a nonmoving violation, TEP (traffic education program), or acquittal.
- Jail time: if you are ordered to pay a fine, and you do not pay it on time, the court could issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If your license is suspended and you drive anyway, you could go to jail for driving under suspension. If your license is revoked and you drive anyway, you could face up to five years in prison for a habitual traffic offender violation.
What to Do if You Have Points on Your Driver’s License in SC
How can you fix a driving points license suspension or reduce the number of points that are on your license?
Driving Points “Fall Off” Your License After Two Years
One option, if you are not in danger of a suspension for accumulation of driving points, is to do nothing.
SC Code §56-1-750 says that driving points will count at one-half value after the first year, and they will no longer be counted after two years:
In computing the total number of points charged to any person after a particular violation, those accrued as a result of violations which have occurred during the twelve months’ period including and immediately preceding the last violation shall be counted at their full value, those accrued from twelve to twenty-four months preceding the last violation shall be counted at one half their established value and those resulting from violations which occurred more than twenty-four months prior to the last violation shall not be counted.
Defensive Driving/ Driver Safety Course
Another option, if you want to reduce your driving points (and possibly reduce your insurance premiums) or if you are dangerously close to a suspension for accumulation of 12 or more driving points, is to take a defensive driving class.
Pursuant to SC Code §56-1-770, you can have your driving points reduced by four points if you complete an eight-hour defensive driving class – this can be done once every three years. Make sure the course is accredited and approved by the National Safety Council.
If you have a traffic ticket pending, do not take the driver safety course before the points hit the DMV for a conviction. Unlike some states, where you are required to take the class before a conviction, in SC you must take the course after the driving points have been put on your license.
If Your License is Suspended Due to Driving Points Accumulation
You can challenge the driving points suspension. Once you receive notice of a license suspension due to accumulation of driving points, you have 10 days to request a hearing – if you think that a mistake was made in the points assessment, you should consult an attorney for advice and to request the hearing on your behalf.
You may be eligible for a route restricted license or a “special restricted driver’s license.” If you are employed or if you are enrolled in a college or university, and if you live more than one mile away from your job or school, SC Code §56-1-740 says that you can apply at the DMV for a special restricted driver’s license that allows you “to drive only to and from work or [your] place of education and in the course of [your] employment or education during the period of suspension.”
Do not drive if your license is suspended. If you are charged with driving under suspension (DUS), you may be entering the nightmare of SC’s DUS “revolving door,” where, each time you drive, you are charged with DUS, and, each time you are convicted of DUS, you get another license suspension.
After just three DUSs – or a combination of three DUSs, reckless driving, or DUIs in three years, your license will be revoked, and the next DUS will be a habitual traffic offender charge that carries up to five years in prison…
Questions About SC’s Driving Points System?
The criminal defense attorneys at the Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm focus exclusively on criminal defense cases in SC, including traffic tickets, driving under suspension charges, and habitual traffic offender violations. We have obtained dismissals, pre-trial diversion resulting in dismissals, or acquittals following trial in hundreds of criminal cases, and we have a record of proven results.
If you have been charged with a crime in SC or if you think you may be under investigation, call us now at 843-444-6122 or contact us through our website for a free initial consultation to find out if we can help.