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How points impact your driving privileges in South Carolina

On Behalf of | Jan 28, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Traffic tickets can be a major headache for South Carolina drivers. They’re not just an annoyance; they can have a significant impact on your driving privileges.

Like many states, South Carolina uses a points system to track traffic violations and keep bad drivers off the road. Get enough points, and you will lose your driving privileges for a period of time.

How many points do common offenses incur?

Most moving violations range from two to six points. The major ones include:

  • Six points: Reckless driving, failing to stop for a school bus, hit-and-run causing property damage, speeding (25 mph or more over the limit)
  • Four points: Failing to yield, illegal passing, speeding (11-24 mph over the limit), failure to obey traffic control device
  • Two points: Forgetting to dim your lights, failing to signal lane changes, endangering road workers, speeding (1-10 mph over the limit)

Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list. Out-of-state violations will go on your record, too.

How many points do I have?

It’s essential to keep tabs on your driving record. No one wants to be waylaid by a sudden license suspension. You can see how many points are on your license at any time by retrieving your driving record online from the SC DMV.

How long do points stay on my record?

Fortunately, points don’t stay on your record forever. They’re generally cut in half after one year. You can also reduce your points by taking a defensive driving course approved by the SC DMV.

How many points trigger a suspension?

It depends on the type of driver’s license you hold. For provisional licenses, restricted licenses or driving permits, six points will trigger a six-month suspension.

For a standard license, the following limits apply:

  • 12 points: three-month suspension
  • 16 points: four-month suspension
  • 18 points: five-month suspension
  • 20-plus points: six-month suspension

Commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) are held to stricter standards. Additionally, certain criminal traffic offenses (like DUIs) will trigger an automatic suspension regardless of your existing points.

Can I fight the suspension?

Once you receive a notice of suspension, you have an opportunity to appeal. However, the deadline is tight. You may also qualify for a hardship license (or other type of restricted license).

It’s often worthwhile to challenge traffic tickets when you receive them. With the help of a lawyer, you may be able to negotiate an outcome that keeps points off your record – or even get the violation dismissed outright. Doing so will not only keep your record clean but also avoid insurance hikes.