What Can I Do if My License is Revoked as a Habitual Offender in SC?
If you have been declared a habitual traffic offender by the SC DMV, your license will be revoked for a period of five years.
When this happens, you pretty much have two options:
- After two years, you can apply for early reinstatement if you meet the requirements; or
- If you think the DMV made a mistake, you can request a hearing and fight it.
What is SC habitual offender status, when can you fight it, and what are the requirements to apply for early reinstatement?
What is a Habitual Traffic Offender in SC?
SC Code Section 56-1-1020 defines a habitual offender as anyone who falls into either of two categories:
Ten or more convictions within a three-year period for traffic violations that carry a penalty of four or more points, or three or more convictions within a three-year period for traffic violations including:
- Manslaughter or reckless homicide resulting from operation of a motor vehicle;
- Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC);
- Reckless driving;
- Driving under suspension (DUS);
- Leaving the scene (hit and run) where injury or death results; or
- Any felony traffic offense where a motor vehicle was involved.
Traffic convictions from federal court, other states, or other municipalities in other states are counted if they “substantially conform” to the corresponding SC offense.
When the SC DMV Makes a Mistake
The SC DMV is not perfect, and, sometimes, they are downright sloppy. If you believe that you have been wrongly declared a habitual traffic offender, we can appeal the DMV’s decision and attempt to get your license reinstated.
In SCDMV v. Dover, decided last month, the SC Court of Appeals upheld the Administrative Law Court’s decision to return Dover’s license because the SC DMV should not have declared her a habitual offender.
Dover was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) and driving under suspension (DUS) in South Carolina, both offenses that come under the three-strikes provision of SC’s habitual offender law.
She was then convicted of “reckless driving” in Virginia – because reckless driving also falls under SC’s three-strikes law, the SC DMV declared her a habitual offender and revoked her license. The problem is, Virginia has 14 reckless driving offenses, each of which addresses different conduct.
The “reckless driving” offense that Dover was convicted of in Virginia was for “speeding greater than 80 mph.” South Carolina can consider an out-of-state violation for purposes of habitual traffic offender status, but the out-of-state offense must “substantially conform” to the corresponding SC offense. In this case, the Virginia conviction was more like a SC speeding ticket than a SC reckless driving conviction, so the SC DMV should not have considered it.
If I am a Habitual Offender in SC, Can I Get My License Reinstated Early?
Although habitual traffic offender status is a five-year revocation, we can apply for early reinstatement of your license after two years if you meet the following requirements:
- This is the first time you have been declared a habitual offender;
- You were not driving during the revocation period;
- You did not have any arrests for alcohol or drug-related offenses during the revocation period;
- You did not have any convictions for traffic violations (or pending violations) during the revocation period; and
- You don’t have any other license suspension pending other than the habitual offender status.
If you are a habitual traffic offender and you believe that you meet these requirements, we may be able to help you get back on the road.
Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC
If you were declared a habitual traffic offender in SC by mistake, if you are a habitual traffic offender who is eligible for early reinstatement, or if you have been charged with driving under suspension while a habitual traffic offender, contact Charleston criminal defense attorney Grant B. Smaldone now by calling at (843) 808-2100 or by filling out our online contact form.