Driving on a Suspended License in South Carolina

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In South Carolina, your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked for a range of reasons. Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a crime. If you are convicted, you could be fined or given a jail sentence.

Reasons for Suspension or Revocation

Your license may be suspended or revoked for many alcohol offenses, certain other convictions, lack of payments, and other reasons.

Alcohol offenses are one common reason for suspension or revocation. For example, your license may be suspended if you are under age 21 and drive a vehicle while your blood alcohol concentration is .02 or greater. (S.C. Code § 56-1-286(A).)

Certain criminal convictions may result in suspension or revocation. For example, your license may be subject to mandatory suspension or revocation if you are convicted of:

  • manslaughter resulting from driving a motor vehicle, or
  • a felony, if you used a vehicle to commit it. (S.C. Code § 56-1-280.)

It may also be suspended if you are convicted of failing to pay for gasoline. (S.C. Code § 56-1-292.)

Your license may be suspended for failure to pay fees or other money owed, in certain circumstances.

Child support. Your license may be suspended if you fail to pay child support. In these circumstances, you may be eligible for a special route-restricted license that allows you to drive between home and work or school. (S.C. Code § 56-1-171(A).) The route-restricted license may be suspended if you remain out of compliance six months after you received it. (S.C. Code § 56-1-171(E).)

DMV debts. Your license may be also revoked, nor not renewed, if you do not pay a tax or fee you owe to the Department of Motor Vehicles. (S.C. Code § 56-1-285.)

There are many other reasons your license may be suspended or revoked.

Reinstating Your License

The period of time your license may be suspended or revoked may depend on the reason for the suspension or revocation. After your period of suspension or revocation expires, you may have to pay a fee before your license is reinstated. The fee may be $100 for each suspension or revocation that has not been reinstated. (S.C. Code § 56-1-390(1).)

If your license was permanently revoked, you may be eligible in some circumstances to apply for reinstatement. In addition to other requirements, you may be assessed a $200 court filing fee. (S.C. Code § 56-1-385(D).)

Criminal Charges for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

You may be charged with a misdemeanor if you drive while your license is suspended or revoked. (S.C. Code § 56-1-500.) For a first offense, the maximum sentence may involve:

  • a $300 fine, and
  • 30 days in jail. (S.C. Code § 56-1-460(A)(1)(a).)

For a second offense, the maximum sentence may involve:

  • a $600 fine, and
  • 60 consecutive days in jail. (S.C. Code § 56-1-460(A)(1)(b).)

For a third or subsequent offense, the maximum sentence may involve:

  • a $1,000 fine, and
  • between 90 days and six months in jail. (S.C. Code § 56-1-460(A)(1)(c).)

Alcohol-related suspensions

The consequences may be more serious if your license was suspended or revoked for alcohol offenses, including DUI. For a first offense, the sentence may involve:

  • a $300 fine, and
  • between 10 and 30 days in jail. (S.C. Code § 56-1-460(A)(2)(a).)

For a second offense, the sentence may involve:

  • a $600 fine, and
  • between 60 days and six months in jail. (S.C. Code § 56-1-460(A)(2)(b).)

For a third or subsequent offense, the sentence may involve:

  • a $1,000 fine, and
  • between six months and more than three years. (S.C. Code § 56-1-460(A)(2)(c).)

Habitual Offender

If your lost your driving privileges because the state considers you a habitual offender, you may be charged with a felony in certain circumstances. If you drive while a habitual offender and are involved in a crash that kills or seriously injures someone, your sentence may involve:

  • a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 10 years in prison, if someone was seriously injured, or
  • a fine between $5,000 and $10,000 and up to 20 years in prison, if someone is killed. (S.C. Code § 56-1-1105(B).)

Legal Help for Charges of Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

A conviction for driving on a suspended or revoked license may result in fines, jail time or other penalties. These are serious consequences that may affect your ability to stay employed, stay in school, obtain or retain insurance, and go about your life in general. While South Carolina law provides specific penalties for a conviction, your actual sentence will depend on the view your community – including prosecutors and judges – has of the crime. Only a lawyer who is familiar with these charges in your area will be able to provide you with this information.

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