HOW DOES THE SOUTH CAROLINA LICENSE POINTS SYSTEM WORK?
The state of South Carolina uses a point system to keep track of how well a driver obeys the laws of the road. While this is an integral part of South Carolina’s law, many people still do not understand how the point system works and what it means for them as drivers. A quick example of this is that most people believe that their insurance rate is directly proportional to the amount of points they have. The truth is that insurance rates have more to do with factors such as age and gender, but license points to impact the overall insurance rate.
Obviously, the point system and its impact can be more complicated than it appears.
HOW DRIVING POINTS ARE COUNTED IN SOUTH CAROLINA
If you are charged and convicted of a driving offense, points may be added to your record.
Six point offenses include reckless driving, property damage hit and runs, going 25 mph over the speed limit, or passing a stopped school bus.
Four point offenses include speeding between 10-25 mph, disobedience of any official traffic control device, failing to yield right of way, driving on the wrong side of the road, failing to yield to right of way, passing unlawfully, turning unlawfully, driving through or within safety zone, failing to signal, turning, or suddenly decreasing speed, following too closely, and operating with improper brakes.
Finally, you will be charged with two points for the following: speeding 10 mph or less over the speed limit, shifting lanes without safety precaution, improper dangerous parking, failing to dim lights, operating with improper lights, operating a vehicle in an unsafe condition, driving in an improper lane, and improper backing.
It should also be noted that a warning is worth 0 points.
PUNISHMENTS FOR POINTS
- Drivers who obtain 12 to 15 points will have their license suspended for 3 months
- Drivers who obtain 16 to 17 points will have their license suspended for 4 months
- Drivers who obtain 18 to 19 points will have their license suspended for 5 months
- Drivers who obtain 20+ points will have their license suspended for 6 months
HOW TO HANDLE POINTS ON YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
You can check you total points at any time through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Not only that, but if your points are higher than you would like, you may take a class that will reduce your total points by 4. It’s worth noting that you should make sure all charges have been accounted for before signing up for and paying for the class. If you take the course before you have any points against you, you will not receive credit for the class. Furthermore, once you have taken the class, you are unable to take it again for three years.
The points will not stay on your record indefinitely. For the first 12 months, they will be counted in full. After that, they are halved. Then after 24 months, they disappear and no longer count against you.
What to Do If Your SC Driver’s License is Suspended for Too Many Points
If you are given a notice that your driver’s license is suspended due to you having a high number of points, you can request a hearing to challenge the suspension. The hearing will take place before a hearing officer from the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings (OMVH). An experienced South Carolina criminal defense lawyer can guide you through the hearing process.
If your license is suspended, you might be eligible for a “route restricted license.” This type of license will allow you to maintain your daily routine. You can go to work, school, or any other major obligations, as long as you stay on the required route. You may only get a route restricted license one time. To see if you qualify for a route restricted license, you can apply at your local DMV.
If your work hours, place of employment, student status, or residence changes while you have a route restricted license, you must inform the DMV immediately. If you are caught driving outside of the route restriction, you will likely be charged for driving with a suspended license, and your expired license trouble will only get worse.
For many traffic violation cases, a lawyer is not necessary. However, charges will vary in significance. But if you find that officers or judges are unwilling to offer you any leeway, you might want to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If you are unable to adequately defend yourself in court, seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.