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South Carolina Auto Driving Laws

Keeping Your License

Your driver's license grants you the privilege of driving a motor vehicle on South Carolina's streets and highways. You may also enjoy, with your South Carolina driver's license, the privilege of operating a motor vehicle in every state of the United States.

If License is Withdrawn

If your license is withdrawn under South Carolina driving law, this means that there is some condition that has come to the attention of the Department which says you are not qualified to have a driver's license. You will not be able to get one again until the reason for the withdrawal is corrected.

If License is Revoked

If your license is revoked under South Carolina driving law, you must wait until the period of revocation is passed, make a new application and take the complete examination just as if you never had a license. You should check to determine the financial responsibility requirement.

If License is Suspended

If your license is suspended under South Carolina driving law, you cannot drive again until the time has passed for your suspension under the point system; for driving under the influence; or for two charges of reckless driving, and so forth.

You must take both the knowledge and road tests for reinstatement of your driving privilege. You should check to determine the financial responsibility requirements also.

If License is Cancelled

If your license is cancelled under South Carolina driving law, this indicates that you never should have had a valid license in the first place, except where a signature of responsibility for a minor is withdrawn. It could come about because of falsification of information on your license application or concealing facts which could affect your driving privilege.

If your license is revoked, suspended or cancelled, the Department will mail you a letter. For certain offenses, you must surrender your license to the court at the time of conviction.

If you do so, your suspension period may begin on the date of the conviction unless you are already suspended for another reason. If you do not surrender your license to the court, you must either bring or send it to the Department.

License Revocation

In accordance with South Carolina driving law, your license will be revoked when:

  1. You are found guilty of killing any person while driving a car in a careless manner.
  2. You are found guilty of any felony in which a motor vehicle is used.
  3. You are involved in any accident in which someone is killed or injured and you fail to stop and give assistance
  4. You are convicted of driving a motor vehicle engaged in a race on a public street or highway.
  5. You furnish false information pertaining to financial responsibility on your motor vehicle registration.
  6. You become mentally or physically incompetent to drive.

License Suspension

In accordance with South Carolina driving law, your license will be suspended for violation of South Carolina traffic laws when:

  • You are found guilty, or forfeit bond, on a charge of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotic drugs. For the first conviction your license will be suspended for six months, for the second offense one year, for the third offense two years. This is in addition to the fines that may be imposed.
  • You refuse to take the test for intoxication when called upon to do so by a law enforcement officer. If the officer has complied with all the requirements of the law in this instance, then your refusal to take the test can mean that your driving privileges will be suspended for 90 days. This is in addition to any suspension if you are convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
  • You are convicted of reckless driving for a second time within five years and each subsequent conviction within that period. The law provides severe penalties for those found guilty of reckless driving. You are driving recklessly when you willfully drive any car or other motor vehicle in a manner that disregards the lives and property of others. Your driver's license will be suspended for three months if you are convicted (or forfeit bond) on a second charge.
  • You are involved in an accident and subsequently sued for damages and an unsatisfied judgment is rendered against you.
  • You help another person to race on a public highway by lending him a motor vehicle, or if you "soup up" an engine for the purpose of racing either for yourself or someone else. The penalties for this violation of the racing law are severe:
    • If you are convicted of taking part in a race on any public road, street or highway, you may be fined or imprisoned or both. In addition, your driver's license and vehicle registration will be suspended for one year.
    • If you assist in a race, or permit your vehicle to be used in a race, you may be fined and/or imprisoned. In addition, your driver's license and your vehicle registration will be suspended for three months.
  • You are convicted of hauling illegal whiskey.
  • You accumulate 12 points under the point system law. This also goes for violations committed out of the state.

South Carolina Driving Law Point System

If you are a violation-prone driver but will recognize your faults and so improve your driving so that you get no more points, your record will eventually be cleared. Under South Carolina driving law, points one year old are cut in half, and after two years they will be wiped out completely.

A provision in South Carolina driving law provides for reducing a driver's points by four upon successful completion of an approved defensive driving course. Only one such reduction in a three-year period is permitted under this provision.

Under South Carolina driving law, the following are violations of South Carolina traffic laws and the points for each:

  • Reckless driving - 6
  • Passing stopped school bus - 6
  • Hit-and run, property damage only - 6
  • Driving too fast for conditions, or speeding
    • Not more than 10 m.p.h. above the posted limit - 2
    • More than 10 m.p.h. above the posted limits - 4
    • 25 m.p.h. or above posted limits - 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
  • Passing unlawfully - 4
  • Turning unlawfully - 4
  • Driving through or within safety zone - 4
  • Failing to give signal, or giving improper signal, for stopping, turning or suddenly decreasing speed - 4
  • Following too closely - 4
  • Operating with improper brakes - 4
  • Operating with improper lights - 2
  • Shifting lanes without safety precaution - 2
  • Failing to dim lights - 2
  • Operating a vehicle in an unsafe condition - 2
  • Driving in improper lane - 2
  • Improper dangerous parking - 2
  • Improper backing - 2

License Cancellation

In accordance with South Carolina driving law, your license can be cancelled:

  1. If you are a minor (under 18 years old) and your parent or guardian or whoever signed for you withdraws his or her signature from your license application
  2. If you give false information on your application

Driving Under Suspension

Of course, if your license has been revoked, suspended or cancelled for violations of South Carolina traffic laws you must not drive a vehicle until the condition which brought about such an action is cleared. If you do and are apprehended and convicted, under South Carolina driving law you will be fined and/or imprisoned and your suspension will be doubled.

For a second conviction, there is a fine and/or imprisonment and the suspension time will again be double. For a third and subsequent offense you are liable to imprisonment and your license suspension will be double.

Driving Without a License

Under South Carolina driving law, the penalty for driving without a license includes a fine and/or imprisonment.

Habitual Offenders

An habitual offender driver law is in effect in South Carolina. Its aim is to remove from the highways those drivers whose driving records show they are a danger to others.

South Carolina traffic laws provide that any driver who accumulates three or more convictions for certain major offenses (listed below) or 10 or more convictions for moving violation for which four or more points are assigned under the point system within a three-year period may be classified as an habitual offender. When these conditions exits, the Department certifies the driving record.

Under South Carolina driving law, the serious offenses are:

  1. voluntary or involuntary manslaughter involving a motor vehicle;
  2. operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotics or drugs, or unlawful alcohol concentration;
  3. driving or operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner;
  4. driving a motor vehicle while license, permit or privilege to drive a motor vehicle has been suspended, cancelled or revoked;
  5. any offense punishable as a felony under the motor vehicle laws or any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
  6. 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.

In accordance with South Carolina driving law, once a driver has been classified a habitual offender, he will have his driver's license suspended for five years.

For More Information

South Carolina Department of Transportation

(Source: StateDrivingLaw.com)


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