While some motorists regard driving as a basic right, the fact is that operating a motor vehicle is a privilege that must be earned and maintained by demonstrating safe and lawful driving. Under certain circumstances, an individual's South Carolina driver's license may be suspended or revoked for a specific length of time, depending on the person's driving record or history, and the particular violation(s).
REASONS FOR DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS
There are a variety of reasons why your South Carolina driver's license might be suspended. Some of these are related to specific driving violations, while others may be due to violation of other State laws. Following are some of the most common reasons for a South Carolina driver's license to be suspended or revoked.
- Driving Under the Influence. Your South Carolina driver's license will be suspended if you are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The length of the suspension will be between 6 months for a first offense, 12 months for a second offense and two years for a third offense. Refusing to take an alcohol test will result in a six month suspension.
- Excessive Moving Violations. The state of South Carolina operates on a point system, in which drivers accumulate points on their license for every moving violation they commit. If you accumulate 12 or more points on your current driver record, your license may be suspended for periods ranging from three to six months.
- Driving without Insurance. All motor vehicles driven in South Carolina must be properly insured. Driving without valid auto insurance will result in your license being suspended immediately, together with a $550 reinstatement fee. Failure to maintain SR-22 insurance if required will also result in immediate suspension and reinstatement fees of up to $400.
- Failure to pay traffic tickets. Failing to pay outstanding traffic tickets will also result in immediate license suspension.
- Other Driving-Related Violations. Your South Carolina driver's license may also be suspended if you engage in reckless driving, are found to be at fault in a fatal accident, or if you abandon your vehicle on a public highway.
- Physical or Psychological Disqualification. The DMV can order a re-examination of any person who may not be fit to drive. An individual's driving privileges may be suspended if the re-examination finds they are physically or psychologically unable to drive safely.
- Non-Driving Reasons for License Suspension. A variety of non-driving violations or issues can result in your license being suspended. These include: not responding to a DMV notice or not appearing in court; and not paying child support.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR SOUTH CAROLINA DRIVER'S LICENSE IS SUSPENDED
Having your South Carolina driver's license suspended is a serious matter and it is essential to adhere to State law in the event that your license is suspended. You must surrender your license to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as soon as you receive notification that it has been suspended. Failure to do so will cause hefty fines and a possible jail sentence.
If your license has been suspended for a first DUI offense, or certain other types of suspension, you may be eligible for a provisional license, which allows you to drive to work, school, medical appointments and treatment programs. A provisional license costs $100 and you can call (803) 896-5000 to check if you are eligible.
If you believe your license may be suspended due to one of the reasons listed above it is advisable to speak with a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer.
APPEALING A SUSPENSION
If you receive a suspension notice from the DMV, and you wish to challenge the suspension, you may request a hearing in court. An administrative law judge will hear your case, and determine whether your driver's license should be suspended or not. In addition, drivers whose license may be suspended due to accumulating excessive points may be eligible to enroll in a Driver Improvement Program. Completing a Driver Improvement Program removes four points from the current driving record, and in some cases can enable an individual to avoid having his license suspended.
It is a good idea to seek the advice of a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer, based on the reason for the suspension.
RESTORING YOUR LICENSE
When your suspension period is over, you can restore your license but you will need to meet a range of conditions, depending on the reason for your license suspension. These conditions may include:
- Payment of all reinstatement fees (normally $100).
- If your license was suspended as a result of a DUI offense, you must obtain SR-22 insurance which must be maintained for three years. You must also participate in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Awareness Program before your license can be reinstated.
- Completion of court-imposed treatment programs.
- Passing driving tests if required (the fee for this is $20).
You can pay your reinstatement fees in person at your local DMV office or you can pay them online using the Pay Reinstatement Fees web page. If paying online you will need to supply your driver license number, your social security number and a valid Visa, MasterCard or Discover card number.