South Carolina utilizes a numeric point system to manage drivers on state roads. Under this system, each point serves as a punishment against your license to drive, and if you receive too many points (12 pts) during a certain time period, your license can and likely will be suspended.
When a SC driver receives 12 or more points on their license, their driver's license will automatically be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, certain driving related offenses like Driving Under the Influence (DUI) require a mandatory driving suspension and are not included under the point system.
NOTE: The SCDMV may assign more points AND automatically suspend your license for receiving certain traffic tickets while driving a commercial vehicle with a CDL (commercial driver's license).
When you receive 6 points or more against your license, the SCDMV will mail you a written WARNING notice. The length of time your license will be suspended is dependent upon the number of points you have accumulated against your license. For example:
12 to 15 points = suspended for 3 months
16 or 17 points = suspended for 4 months
18 to 19 points = suspended for 5 months
20 or more points = suspended for 6 months
How long do the points stay on my license?
Points don't stay on your license forever because they only have a "half-life". The SC Department of Motor Vehicles reduces each driving violation point total by half each year. This means that 1-year old points are cut in half each year, and 2-year-old points are removed completely as long as you don't get anymore violations during this period. So, say you receive a violation worth 4 points. The DMV will remove 2 of those points after 1 year, and the other 2 after 2 years.
If you plead guilty or are convicted by a judge (bench trial) or by a jury (jury trial) of certain traffic offenses, you will penalized a certain number of points against your license depending on the type of driving violation. Below are some of the main driving offenses people often find themselves charged with along with the number of points each offense carries: See
Reckless Driving - 6 pts
Hit & Run w/ Property Damage - 6 pts
Speeding 10 mph or Less - 2 pts
Speeding b/t 10 & 25 mph - 4 pts
Speeding Over 25 mph - 6 pts
Failure to Yield Right of Way - 4 pts
Passing Unlawfully - 4 pts
Disobeying any Traffic Control Device - 4 pts
Failing to give Signal when Stopping or Turning - 4 pts
Driving too Fast for Conditions - 2 to 6 pts (depending on Officer's discretion)
Passing Unlawfully - 4 pts
Driving on Wrong Side of the Road - 4 pts
Unlawful Lane Change - 2 pts
Following Too Closely - 4 pts
Failing to Dim Headlights - 2 pts
Operating with Improper Lights - 2 pts
Improper Brake Lights - 4 pts
Driving Left of Center - 2 pts
Improper Backing - 2 pts
Operating Vehicle in Unsafe Condition - 2 pts
Can I do anything to get points back on my license? YES
South Carolina Defensive Driving Options
Defensive driving courses, also known as "Traffic School" courses, are designed to make you a better driver and give you point credit back to your license once they are completed. These course may allow you to:
- Deduct points from your driving record
- Dismiss a traffic ticket or satisfy a court requirement
- Earn a car insurance discount
Typically, you'll be able to choose between taking an online class or one in a classroom at a location near you. These 8-hour courses must be taken in South Carolina and points may only be reduced 1 time in a 3-year period. The class MUST be approved by the National Safety Council's "Defensive Driving Course". For a complete list of South Carolina DMV - approved traffic schools please visit the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles website.