As criminal defense lawyers in Charleston, we’ve represented many people who’ve been charged with Driving Under Suspension in South Carolina. We’ve written this article to explain the charge of driving under suspension (DUS), to give information regarding revoked licenses and habitual traffic offenders, and to provide options to help you avoid getting charged with DUS.
How can my license be suspended in South Carolina?
There are a number of ways your license can be suspended in South Carolina. The most common we see result from convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), failure to pay traffic tickets (NRVC), failure to stop for a blue light, hit and run, racing on a public road, 2nd offense reckless driving, and child support arrearages.
What happens if I am caught driving on a suspended license in South Carolina?
First, you can be charged criminally. If the suspension is not DUI or DUAC-related, a first offense carries a fine or imprisonment of up to 30 days, or both. A second offense carries a fine or imprisonment of up to 60 days, or both. A third or subsequent offense carries a fine and imprisonment of up to 90 days, or home detention of 90 to 180 days. If the suspension is DUI or DUAC-related, a first offense carries a fine or imprisonment of between 10 and 30 days. A second offense carries a fine or imprisonment of 60 days up to 180 days. A third or subsequent offense carries a fine and imprisonment of no less than 6 months, up to 3 years.
Second, a conviction will suspend your license further. Generally, the suspension period will be the same as the original suspension period. So, if you’re suspended for 6 months and have a DUS offense that results in conviction, then you’ll be suspended an additional 6 months. If your original suspension wasn’t for a particular time period, then generally the new suspension will be for 90 days.
Can I drive in South Carolina after my suspension period is over?
No. This is where a lot of our clients got themselves in hot water and needed us in the first place. They thought that just because their suspension period ended, they were safe to drive. That’s not the case. After your suspension period is over, you have to get your driver’s license reinstated with the DMV. This could be as simple as paying $100 reinstatement fee or can be a lot more intensive, such as enrolling in ADSAP, carrying SR-22 insurance, clearing up driving issues in another state, or paying off old, unpaid traffic tickets. The best way is to check with the DMV and find out what your “Reinstatement Requirements” or “Conditions of Reinstatement.” You can obtain this information online, over the telephone, or in person at a local DMV branch.
What if my license is revoked in South Carolina?
It all depends on the reason for the revocation, but it might be possible to get the license back. It may require a court case. Even if your license was permanently revoked, you might qualify to get it back after 7 years. If your license has been revoked, contact the attorneys and Futeral & Nelson to find out if, when, and how you can get it back.
What is an habitual offender in South Carolina?
An habitual offender (also called “habitual traffic offender”) is someone who has had 10 “minor offenses” within a 3-year window, or 3 “major offenses” within a 3-year window. You calculate each offense by the date the ticket was originally written, not the date of conviction. If multiple violations occurred on the same day, you only count those offenses as one.
“Minor offenses” are ones that carry 4 or more points against your driver’s license. The “major offenses” are:
- Voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
- Reckless driving
- Driving while suspended for failure to file proof of financial responsibility
- Felonies involving motor vehicles
- Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death
Habitual offenders can lose their licenses for FIVE years! However, it is IMPORTANT TO KNOW that someone declared an habitual offender can petition to get their license back after two years. We can help you make this petition and represent you at your hearing. If you’re an habitual offender who is nearing or past the 2-year mark, schedule an appointment with us to see how we can help you get your license back. This type of case is called a “habitual offender reduction.” You can only try it once, so make sure you get it right and do not go unrepresented.
It is important to know that if you are convicted of driving while being an habitual offender, you will be guilty of a felony and can be imprisoned for up to 5 years.