Habitual Offender Frequently Asked Questions

Habitual Offender Frequently Asked Questions

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 Section 56-1-1010.)

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.)

3.       What are the major driving offenses?

a.   Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter involving a motor vehicle;

b.   Operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotics or drugs, or unlawful alcohol concentration; 

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;

f.    Failure 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.

4.       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.

5.       How will I know that I have been classified as a habitual offender?
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.)

6.       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 hearings.

7.       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 another state.

-     You must not have driven a motor vehicle during the habitual offender suspension period.

-     You must not have any convictions or pending charges for alcohol or drug violations committed during the habitual offender suspension period.

-     You must not have convictions of pending charges for major driving offenses (listed in question #3) committed during the habitual offender suspension period.

-     You must not have any other mandatory driver’s license suspension that has not yet reached its end date.

8.       How long will it take to find out if my suspension will be reduced?
The 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.

9.       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?
If 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 Hearings.

 

Habitual offender laws in South Carolina

  1. 56-1-1010. Legislative declaration of policy.

  2. 56-1-1020. "Habitual offender" and "conviction" defined.

  3. 56-1-1030. Revocation of license of habitual offender.

  4. 56-1-1090. Issuance of license to habitual offenders; conditions.

  5. 56-1-1100. Penalties.

  6. 56-1-1105. Penalties for driving while license cancelled, suspended or revoked.

  7. 56-1-1110. Article shall not affect existing laws.

  8. 56-1-1130. Notification of potential offenders.

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