It's common to have concerns and experience some uncertainty after a police officer issues you a ticket for a driving offense. Even common traffic violations can carry a wide range of potential consequences, from steep fines and increased insurance rates to loss of driving privileges and potential jail time. You may not know whether your traffic citation needs a response other than paying the fine or may have trouble deciding what your first step should be. Your best option is to find a defense lawyer as quickly as possible.
An attorney with experience in traffic law can provide you with legal representation that could mean the difference between a conviction and a not guilty verdict. No matter how insignificant your traffic charges seem, they should be taken seriously. Our Columbia traffic lawyers at TF Law will work with you to build an aggressive defense for your case and fight for the best result possible. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation!
How SC Drivers' License Points Work
In South Carolina points are assigned to your license when you are found to have violated traffic laws. Certain criteria are set to punish drivers that collect too many points as an incentive to promote safe driving habits. These points are recorded on your driving record, which will include any convictions you have received as well as the number of points assigned to you.
South Carolina Law assigns point values to specific traffic violations. These will be marked against your record by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) if you are convicted of a traffic offense within the state or in any other state in the country.
The points that you receive will fall off your record over time. This is beneficial as it can help you avoid a license suspension based largely on traffic violations you committed years ago. In South Carolina, the system for point removal is simple and automatic. One year after your violation half the points will be removed from your record, two years after your violation the remaining points will be removed.
When Your License Can Be Suspended For Traffic Violations
South Carolina law allows for the suspension of a driver's license under a number of circumstances. While the majority of these are obviously due to driving violations of one kind or another, it's worth noting that you may also have your license suspended for non-driving-related offenses.
The length of your suspension will depend on the exact circumstances of your charge as well as your driving history. Common offenses leading to a license suspension include:
Too Many Moving Violations
This is based on the points system used in South Carolina. There are point values assigned to different types of traffic violations, such as speeding offenses, running red lights, or even drunk driving, and if you reach a total of 12 or more points you will be facing a license suspension.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will result in a license suspension of between 6 months and 2 years on conviction, depending on your circumstances. While you may choose to refuse a breath test during a stop, doing so will result in an automatic suspension of 6 months.
Outstanding Traffic Tickets
Unpaid traffic tickets can lead to an indefinite suspension of your driving privileges. You will be required to pay off your tickets before your license is returned.
Driving While Your License is Suspended
If you are caught driving while your license is suspended you will receive an extension of your suspension equal to the length of your original penalty. Meaning that if you received a 6-month suspension and got caught driving, you would be issued a second 6-month suspension. If your suspension is indefinite the new suspension given to you will be for 3 months.
Driving Without Insurance
It is required by South Carolina Law for all vehicles to be insured. Driving a motor vehicle without proper insurance can result in an indefinite license suspension.
The SCDMV is able to order an examination for anyone it feels may not be medically fit to safely drive on public roads. Physical or psychological conditions can disqualify an individual from holding a driver's license and so it may be revoked or suspended.
As we said before, there are some non-driving-related offenses that can result in a suspension of your driving privileges. These include failure to appear in court, pay child support, or respond to a DMV notice.
Related Content: How Much Does a Driver's License Reinstatement Cost in SC?
Under South Carolina's points system, a driver who is assigned:
- 12-15 points will receive a 3-month license suspension
- 16-17 points will receive a 4-month license suspension
- 18-19 points will receive a 5-month license suspension
- 20+ points will receive a 6-month license suspension
Can You Remove Traffic Violations From Your Record?
The actual traffic violation will always be noted on your driving record, however, the license points are not permanent. This is important because your points total will have an impact on your auto insurance premiums and the possibility of a license suspension. The process for getting points removed from your driving record in South Carolina is incredibly simple: you just have to wait. Half of the points you receive for a traffic infraction will be removed in 1 year, with the other half falling off your record after the 2nd year.
How a Traffic Attorney Can Help
Traffic law can be a complicated subject, with local laws and statutes you will never have heard of further adding to the problem. Attempting to manage your case, or represent yourself during your trial, is almost always a bad idea. An experienced traffic attorney will be able to lay out all of your legal options, make sure you understand everything as your case unfolds, build a strong defense, and provide you with qualified legal representation.
Even seemingly minor traffic law violations can have major negative consequences, ranging from increased insurance premiums to hefty fines and even a jail sentence. You will want to take your case seriously from the start to ensure you get the best possible outcome for your situation. Contact a skilled traffic attorney at TF Law today to schedule a free case consultation to see how we can help you!