What Does it Mean to be a Habitual Offender in South Carolina?
When drivers in South Carolina disobey a traffic law, they may have to pay a fine, attend traffic school and deal with other consequences. However, those who commit traffic violations on a regular basis and who are deemed a “habitual offender” as a result face penalties that are much more severe.
Habitual Offenders Defined.
In South Carolina, drivers who commit three major traffic violations within a three-year period can be declared a habitual offender.
Some of the major traffic violations that can contribute to a driver becoming a habitual offender include the following:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Reckless driving
- Involuntary manslaughter due to the operation of a motor vehicle
- Failing to stop after a collision that results in either injury or death
- Any felony offense that arises due to the operation of a motor vehicle
Those who commit 10 minor traffic violations within a 10-year timeframe can also be deemed habitual offenders. A minor traffic violation is any offense that can add four or more points to a person’s driving record. For example, if a driver operates a vehicle 10 mph over the posted speed limit, he or she commits a minor traffic violation. Drivers should keep in mind that major traffic violations can also count towards this 10-violation total.
When the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles determines whether traffic violations fall within a three or 10-year period, they do not go by the conviction or court date. Rather, they use the date on which the incident occurred.
Reinstating Your Driving Privileges
One of the main consequences drivers face after being declared a habitual offender is losing their driving privileges for a period of five years. Drivers can apply to have their license reinstated after two years of suspension, but in order to do this, they must meet a few specific conditions. For example, drivers must not have been a habitual offender in any state in the past or have committed any drug or alcohol violations since the commencement of their suspension. In order to reinstate their license, drivers must also not have committed any other traffic violations since the beginning of their suspension. Drivers who are at risk of becoming a habitual offender may have concerns about how this status will affect them legally and financially, especially if their license is suspended.