How does the SC driving points system work?
The Myrtle Beach traffic violations lawyers on the Axelrod team routinely review our clients’ driving records to help them make decisions in their cases, to determine why their license has been suspended and when they can get their license reinstated, and to determine the effect a new traffic conviction will have on their driver’s license.
We’ve found that many people simply do not understand how the SC driving points system works and the effect that a loss of driving points or an accumulation of points will have on their driver’s license.
Below, we will explain the SC driving points system, including:
- Which SC traffic violations result in a loss of points,
- How many points are on your license,
- How many points it takes to lose your license in SC,
- How long points stay on your license, and
- How to get points put back on your license in SC.
Which SC Traffic Offenses Cost Driving Points?
Many SC traffic violations carry a loss of driving points – the complete list of which violations carry points and how many points are taken for each offense is found in SC Code § 56-1-720:
|Passing stopped school bus||6|
|Hit & Run, property damage only||6|
|Driving too Fast for Conditions or Speeding 10 mph or less over the limit||2|
|Driving too Fast for Conditions or Speeding more than 10 mph but less than 25 mph over the limit||4|
|Driving too Fast for Conditions or Speeding 25 mph or more over the limit||6|
|Disobedience of any official traffic control device||4|
|Disobedience to officer directing traffic||4|
|Failing to yield right of way||4|
|Driving on wrong side of road||4|
|Driving through or within safety zone||4|
|Shifting lanes without safety precaution||2|
|Improper dangerous parking||2|
|Following too closely||4|
|Failing to dim lights||2|
|Operating with improper lights||2|
|Operating with improper brakes||4|
|Operating vehicle in an unsafe condition||2|
|Driving in improper lane||2|
|Endangerment of a highway worker, no injury||2|
|Endangerment of a highway worker, injury results||4|
How Many Driving Points are on a License in SC?
You could say that you have 12 points to lose on a SC license, but it would be more accurate to say that you begin with zero points.
Each points violation that you get then “adds driving points” to your license. For example, if you have a clean driving record, and then you get a conviction for a speeding ticket for driving 30 mph over the speed limit, you now have 6 points on your license…
How Many Driving Points Does It Take to Lose Your License in SC?
If you accumulate 12 or more points on your SC license, it will be suspended.
How Long is a Driver’s License Suspension for Accumulation of Driving Points?
SC Code § 56-1-740 says that the length of a suspension for accumulation of driving points depends on how many points you have accumulated.
- Twelve to fifteen points: three months,
- Sixteen or seventeen points: four months,
- Eighteen or nineteen points: five months, and
- Twenty points and over: six months.
How Long Do Points Stay on Your License in South Carolina?
Per SC Code § 56-1-750, your driving points are “cut in half” each year – after the first year, the points will be counted at half value, and, after the second year, they will be gone:
In computing the total number of points charged to any person after a particular violation, those accrued as a result of violations which have occurred during the twelve months’ period including and immediately preceding the last violation shall be counted at their full value, those accrued from twelve to twenty-four months preceding the last violation shall be counted at one half their established value and those resulting from violations which occurred more than twenty-four months prior to the last violation shall not be counted.
For example, if you have a reckless driving conviction on October 1, 2021, you will have six points on your license until October 1, 2022, when it will drop to three points on your license. If you have no other traffic violations, on October 1, 2023, you will have zero points on your license again.
What Happens if You Lose Points from Your SC License?
“Points violations” in SC can result in:
- A license suspension for accumulation of 12 or more driving points,
- Jail time for the traffic offense (driving under suspension charges, for example),
- Habitual traffic offender (HTO) status if you accumulate three or more serious traffic offenses or ten or more offenses that carry four points or more within three years,
- Higher insurance premiums, or
- Loss of your commercial driver’s license (CDL).
How Do You Get Points Back on Your License in SC?
Apart from just waiting two years, under SC Code § 56-1-770, you can have your driving points reduced by four points if you take an accredited and approved defensive driving class. This is useful for 1) avoiding a suspension for accumulation of points and 2) lowering your insurance premiums.
You can do this once every three years. Note that you must take the driver safety course after your conviction in SC.
In some other states (NC, for example), you would take this class before your court date, but, in SC, if you take the class before the points are on your license, it does no good.
If you have been charged with a traffic violation in SC, your traffic lawyer in Myrtle Beach may be able to help you avoid driving points, license suspensions, and higher insurance premiums.