1. What is
the purpose of habitual offender status?
The purpose of the law is to provide maximum safety for all
persons using the public highways in South Carolina. (SC Code of Laws
2. Why would
I be classified as a habitual offender?
Any driver who accumulates three or more convictions for major
driving offenses within a three year period, or 10 or more four-point moving violation
convictions may be classified as a habitual offender. (SC Code
of Laws Section 56-1-1020.)
What are the major driving offenses?
Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter involving a motor vehicle;
or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of
intoxicating liquor, narcotics or drugs, or unlawful alcohol
c. Driving or
operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner;
d. Driving a
motor vehicle while license, permit or privilege to drive a motor vehicle has
been suspended, cancelled or revoked;
e. Any offense
punishable as a felony under the motor vehicle laws or any felony in the
commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
of the driver of a motor vehicle involved in any accident resulting in the
death or injury of any person to stop close to the scene of the accident
and to report his identity.
If I am classified as a habitual offender, how long will I be
without a driver’s license?
Once the Department of Motor Vehicles classifies you as a
habitual offender, your driver's license will be suspended for five years.
How will I know that I have been classified as a habitual
The Department of Motor Vehicles will send you a letter
notifying you of the suspension. You will be instructed not to operate a motor
vehicle and to surrender your driver’s license or permit to the
department. (SC Code of Laws Section 56-1-1090.)
Can I contest the suspension?
If you wish to contest the suspension, you may file a request
for a contested case hearing with the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings within
30 days from the date of your suspension notice. The SC Office of Motor
Vehicle Hearings has exclusive jurisdiction to conduct these
Is there any way the suspension time can be reduced?
After you have served two years of the suspension, you may
request a reduction in the suspension time. To request a reduction, you must
complete Form VS-001A and submit it to the
South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. To be eligible for a reduction,
the following conditions must be met:
You must not have a previous habitual offender suspension in South Carolina or
You must not have driven a motor vehicle during the habitual offender
You must not have any convictions or pending charges for alcohol or drug
violations committed during the habitual offender suspension
You must not have convictions of pending charges for major driving offenses
(listed in question #3) committed during the habitual offender suspension
You must not have any other mandatory driver’s license suspension that has not
yet reached its end date.
How long will it take to find out if my suspension will be
department’s decision will be issued within thirty days after receipt of the
request. If the department denies the request, you may file a request for
a contested case hearing with the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings. The
Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings will then determine when your driving
privileges will be restored. If a reduction of the five year suspension period
is granted, it will begin on the date of the department’s decision or on the
date of the final decision by the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings. If a
reduction is not granted, you will be notified by mail and you may not file for
a suspension reduction again.
Can the department reinstate the suspension?
If your driving privilege is restored, but the department
subsequently determines that you failed to provide the required or correct
information regarding your hearing or committed fraud, the department must
suspend your driver’s license for the remaining balance of the habitual
offender suspension period. SCDMV will notify the South Carolina Law
Enforcement Division (SLED) and criminal charges may be filed. You may contest
the department’s determination by filing a request for a case hearing with the
Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings. (SC Code of Laws Section 56-1-1090.)
10. If I am
convicted of another major driving offense, will I lose my driver’s license?
your driving privilege is restored following a case hearing and you are
convicted of a major driving offense (listed in question #3) that occurs during
the original five-year habitual offender suspension period, the department must
suspend your driver’s license for the time period by which the habitual
offender suspension had been reduced. You may contest the department’s
determination by filing a request for a contested case hearing with the Office
Motor Vehicle Hearings. (SC Code of Laws Section 56-1-1090.)
Administrative Hearings are conducted by the
Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings, which is a part of the South Carolina
Administrative Law Court. For information about the hearing process or to
schedule a hearing, contact the Office of Motor Vehicle
offender laws in South Carolina:
declaration of policy.
offender" and "conviction" defined.
56-1-1030. Revocation of license
of habitual offender.
56-1-1090. Issuance of license to
habitual offenders; conditions.
for driving while license cancelled, suspended or revoked.
56-1-1110. Article shall not
affect existing laws.
56-1-1130. Notification of
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