If a police officer stops you for speeding, making an illegal U-turn or committing any other traffic violation, you should think twice before you decide to admit guilt, pay the fine and move on. Every time you get cited for a traffic violation, it adds points to your driver’s license. Those points can quickly add up, too. If you get too many points, you could lose your South Carolina driving privileges.
Here, we provide an overview of how the South Carolina driving points system works. If you would like to discuss a traffic ticket that you recently received in Rock Hill or a nearby community, or if you are facing the possible loss of your driver’s license, get in touch with us at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC. What happens to you matters to us. We will fight for your rights and your future.
What Are Driver’s License Points?
Points are like dings or strikes against your driving record. The more points you acquire, the closer you get to losing your license. If you are an adult driver – age 18 or older – your South Carolina driving privileges will be “suspended” if you get 12 or more points. If you are a younger, novice driver with a beginner’s permit, conditional license or special restricted license, your driving privileges will be suspended for six months if you rack up six or more points.
Because of the points system, you should consider all of your options before you admit guilt and pay a ticket. You should also get help from an experienced traffic ticket attorney – especially if you are accused of a traffic violation that carries a high number of points, or if you have been convicted of previous violations. An attorney may help you to explore options such as getting the offense reduced from a moving violation with points to a non-moving violation with no points.
How the South Carolina Driving Points System Works
South Carolina generally assesses points for only moving violations. However, a few exceptions exist. For instance, you can get “dinged” for two points if you park in a dangerous manner. Here is a quick guide to some of the most common traffic violations and the points that you will receive if you are convicted:
- Improper lane shifting
- Dangerous parking
- Operating a car without proper lights
- Failing to dim your bright beams when approaching oncoming traffic
- Generally unsafe operation
- Improper lane use
- Backing in an unsafe or improper manner
- Speeding (up to 10 mph above the limit)
- Driving too fast for conditions (up to 10 mph over the limit)
- Disregarding a traffic control
- Disregarding a traffic officer or police officer who is directing traffic
- Improper passing
- Improper turning (such as failing to use a turn signal)
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Driving in the wrong direction on a roadway
- Operating in a safety or construction zone without authority
- Failing to use proper signals
- Tailgating (following too closely)
- No working tail lights or brake lights.
- Speeding (11-24 mph above the limit)
- Passing a school bus that is stopped and using flashing lights
- Reckless driving
- Leaving the scene of a crash with property damage
- Speeding (25 mph or more above the limit)
You might notice that traffic violations like leaving the scene of an accident with injuries and DUI offenses are not listed. That’s because those offenses are criminal in nature and carry immediate suspension of your driver’s license. So, they are not assessed through the points system.
When you reach 12 points, you will receive a summary notice of suspension. In other words, the State of South Carolina is letting you know that your driving privileges are being suspended. The length of the suspension will depend on the number of points and the timeframe within which you incurred the points.
Your driving privileges will be suspended for the following lengths of time based on the number of points you have on your record:
12-15 Three months
16-17 Four months
18-19 Five months
20-plus Six months
You should know that your points are cut in half after one year. So, if you incur a six-point violation, then after 12 months pass, you will have only three points on your driving record. So, if you are a driver in South Carolina who gets an occasional ticket every few years, you may not be too heavily concerned about losing your driving privileges due to an accumulation of points.
The majority of people who get a suspension due to points have multiple offenses within the same year. A rapid succession of tickets within a short period of time (one to two years) can really add up fast. For instance, if you pick up just two speeding offenses in the same year for going 25 mph or more above the speed limit, you could lose your license for three months.
How Can a Lawyer Help with Your Traffic Violation?
It’s a good idea to speak with an attorney any time you get a traffic citation. Sometimes, there truly is little you can do. But in the vast majority of situations, our attorneys are able to help. Here are just a few things we might be able to do to help you to avoid the negative effects of a traffic violation:
- Fight for a dismissal – Sometimes, the officer is just not in the right. If that’s the case, we can help you to fight for a dismissal or not guilty verdict.
- Negotiate or plead to a lesser offense – In some cases, the local solicitor’s office will be willing to allow you to pay a fine for a non-moving violation.
- Enrollment in the Traffic Education Program (TEP) – If you have four points or less on your driving record, you may want to consider this one-time option.
- Dispute improper points calculations – Maybe the State has miscalculated an old violation, leading to an improper suspension of your driving privileges.
Our Rock Hill Traffic Violation Attorneys Are Here to Help You
If you lose your license, even for a few months, it might make it hard to get to your job or school, which can create major financial headaches. Also, when you get hit with a traffic violation, your insurance rates can skyrocket. Wait before you pay the ticket. Other options may be available to you. Contact McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, and allow us to help you to explore all options in your case.
Gary C. Lemel is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University School of Law who has deep background as a criminal defense attorney in Rock Hill. Over the course of his career, he has handled everything from traffic violations to death penalty litigation. His current practice spans multiple counties and focuses on cases involving driving under the influence, drug charges and high-level felonies. He also serves on the board of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and as a member of the South Carolina Bar’s Judicial Qualifications Committee and Public Defender Standards Committee.