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Traffic Offenses and DUI/DWI in South Carolina
DUI/DWI Lawyer in Florence & Darlington, South Carolina
It is important that you act fast if you have been charged with drunk driving. DUI / DWI cases are time-sensitive. You have to request a hearing within 30 days to prevent loss of license. If you do not, your license will be taken away. Your driver’s license provides you with driving privileges. As privileges — not rights — they can be taken away from you if you have been arrested for or found guilty of drunk driving. Should your license be suspended we can help you obtain one of the following temporary licenses so you are able to go to work or school. Temporary alcohol license: Provisional license: Route restricted license
Implied Consent Law
The Implied Consent Law in South Carolina states that when you apply for a license, you consent to being administered a chemical test if you are stopped by a police officer who suspects you of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you refuse to be tested, your license is automatically suspended for 6 months.
A blood test may be required without the issuance of a search warrant. The legal limit for blood-alcohol content (BAC) in South Carolina is 0.08% (.02% for drivers under 21 years old); however, your ability to drive might be impaired even with a lower BAC.
In South Carolina DUI convictions are tried before a jury, so you might want to consider hiring an attorney who specializes in DUI cases. A first offense is considered a misdemeanor, but it will remain on your driving record forever and can be used against you in the future―think potential employers and your insurance company.
A DUI conviction can be costly. The fine for a DUI can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars; your license will be suspended for 6 months for your 1st offense; and your insurance rates will increase. So, aside from your fine, you’ll also have to pay a license reinstatement fee and higher insurance rates.
You will be required to attend special counseling for alcohol abuse, and your insurance company must provide the DMV with an SR-22 insurance certificate. Expect your insurance premiums to possibly double or triple when you request the SR-22 certificate.
What do I do if I get a Traffic Ticket in SC?
Decide whether to plead guilty, no contest or nolo contendere, or not guilty.
Depending on the violation, pleading guilty or no contest or nolo contendere means paying the ticket online or by mail, dealing with penalties like point accumulation, and moving on.
Some drivers opt to plead not guilty, and this means going to court and proving your innocence to a judge.
NOTE: Your ticket will state whether a court appearance is required. Regardless of how you plan to plead, some violations require a court appearance.
Which court handles traffic tickets?
Nearly every court in South Carolina can handle traffic tickets, and your ticket will specify which court is handling yours.
However, most traffic tickets go before municipal and magistrate courts. Usually, municipal courts handle town- and city-level tickets, and magistrate courts handle county-level courts.
The South Carolina Judicial Department provides everything you need to know―including how to contact each court in the state.
Driver License Suspension in South Carolina
If the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspends your driver’s license, you’ll need to satisfy your suspension requirements to reinstate it. Your driver’s license may be suspended for reasons including:
- Driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) of drugs and/or alcohol.
- Driving with a suspended license.
- Violating insurance laws.
- Failing to pay a traffic citation.
- Accumulating too many driving record points.
On this page, you’ll find information about your suspension and how to reinstate your SC driver’s license.
About Your Suspended License in SC
The duration of your suspension will vary depending on the circumstances of your offense. NOTE: You may also receive additional fines and penalties from the court if you receive a criminal conviction. Some common suspensions include:
- 6 months to 3 years for alcohol-related offenses, depending on the number of violations.
- Indefinitely for suspensions resulting from:
- Insurance violations.
- SR22 violations.
- Failing to pay a ticket.
- 3 – 6 months for accumulating too many traffic points on your driver record, depending on the number of traffic points.
For information about your specific suspension requirements, contact the South Carolina DMV:
- Phone: (803) 896-5000.
- E-mail: help@SCDMVonline.
NOTE: If you drive while your license is suspended, you will receive an additional suspension of:
- The same duration as your current suspension, if the duration is stated.
- 3 months, if your suspension is indefinite.
- 30 days, if your suspension was caused by failing to pay a traffic ticket.
Check Your Driver License Status and Driving Record Points
Along with higher car insurance rates and fines, accumulating too many points on your driving record can lead to a license suspension.
- If you accumulate 6 points or more, the SCDMV will mail you a warning letter.
- If you earn 12 points or more, your driver’s license will be suspended.
Reporting Car Accidents in South Carolina
Accidents happen. If you are involved in a traffic accident, you have several tasks ahead of you. You should call law enforcement unless there was minimal damage to vehicles or property. However, you definitely need to call the police if the accident resulted in an injury or death.
If the police weren’t involved but the wreck caused damages greater than $1,000 or resulted in injury or death to anyone, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles requires all drivers to submit a completed and accurate Traffic Collision Report, Form FR-309.
Submit the form within 15 days of the accident by mail to:
- S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles
- FR 309/FR-21
- Financial Responsibility
- P.O. Box 1498
- Blythewood, SC 29016-0040
Failure to Report an Accident
The law requires the driver or owner of the vehicle involved in the collision to submit the Traffic Collision Report, Form FR-309. Note that your insurance company must also complete a portion to verify your coverage. If you don’t properly submit this report, the DMV will take this as evidence that the vehicle was not insured, and you might be subject to legal penalties for driving without insurance.