The South Carolina Driving Points System Explained

Our criminal lawyers in Charleston regularly review driving records and help our clients make decisions based on their past driving records. We’ve noticed that many folks don’t fully understand what the driving points system in South Carolina means. For example, many people think that the number of points on their records will determine their insurance rates. Actually, insurance companies base their rates on a number of factors besides driving points such as your gender and your age. Having said that, getting a traffic ticket that results in points against your license can impact your rates.

We’ve found some trouble finding all of the driving point information on a single website, so we’ve put together a quick reference of the driving points system in South Carolina and what happens if you get too many points.

How Driving Points are Counted in South Carolina

If you plead guilty or are convicted by a judge or jury of certain traffic offenses, you might have points assessed against your license. This table shows which offenses carry points and how many:

Traffic OffensePoints
Reckless driving6
Passing stopped school bus6
Hit & Run, property damage only6
Speeding 10 mph or less2
Speeding between 10 mph and 25 mph4
Speeding over 25 mph6
Disobedience of any official traffic control device or officer directing traffic4
Failing to yield right of way4
Driving on the wrong side of the road4
Passing unlawfully4
Turning unlawfully4
Driving through or within a safety zone4
Failing to give a signal or giving an improper signal when stopping, turning, or suddenly decreasing speed4
Shifting lanes without safety precaution2
Improper dangerous parking2
Following too closely4
Failing to dim lights2
Operating with improper lights2
Operating with improper brakes4
Operating vehicle in an unsafe condition2
Driving in improper lane2
Improper backing2
Warning tickets0


Points-Related Driver’s License Suspension in South Carolina

If a driver accumulates 12 – 15 points, the driver will be suspended for 3 months.

If a driver accumulates 16 or 17 points, the driver will be suspended for 4 months.

If a driver accumulates 18 or 19 points, the driver will be suspended for 5 months.

If the driver accumulates 20 or more points, the driver will be suspended for 6 months.

How to Handle Points on Your Drivers License in South Carolina

Driving Safety Course – A driver may review his or her driving record at any time by getting a copy from the DMV. If a driver has points against his or her license and wishes to reduce them, the driver can contact a local driving school and take a “4-point reduction class.” Make sure that the class meets the state requirements for the reduction before paying to enroll and make sure the court has reported the offense to the DMV and the points have been assessed against your driver’s license. If you take the class before the points actually hit, you won’t receive credit. If you use this class for the reduction, you can’t use it again for 3 years. After completing the class, confirm with them whether they will notify the DMV of your completion or whether you need to, and make sure you get a certificate to prove you completed it.

The class must be approved by the National Safety Council’s “Defensive Driving Course” or its equivalent, and the instructor must be properly accredited.

Automatic Reduction After Time – Points don’t stay on your license forever, even if you don’t take the course. For the first 12 months after the date of the offense, the points are assessed full value. After 12 months, they are counted at half value. After 24 months, the points no longer count.

For example, if a person receives a ticket for speeding between 10 mph and 25 mph over the posted speed limit, that person will have 4 points against the license for this violation. After 12 months from the offense date, the person will have 2 points against the license. After 24 months, these points no longer count towards any possible points suspension.

What to Do If You’re South Carolina Drivers License is Suspended for Too Many Points

Challenge the Points Suspension – If you receive a notice of suspension due to excessive points, you have 10 days to request a hearing if you wish to challenge it. A hearing will then be held before a hearing officer of the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings (OMVH). You might want to consult with a lawyer if you choose to go this route.

Route Restricted License – A person suspended for excessive points may be eligible for a “route restricted license” that can enable the driver to go to work and school. A person can only get a route-restricted license once in his or her lifetime for this type of suspension. If you’re dealing with this suspension, consider going to the DMV and applying for a route-restricted license.

If you obtain a route-restricted license, and you have a change in your hours of employment, place of employment, residence, or status as a student, you must immediately tell the DMV. If you drive outside of your permitted route and times, you can be charged with driving under suspension (DUS), and you may have only extended the problem. CLICK HERE for an explanation of DUS charges in South Carolina and what we call the “snowball” effect.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in Mt Pleasant and Charleston, SC

Oftentimes, you can handle a traffic ticket yourself. Many police officers and judges will give you a break on either the points (by reducing speed on a ticket) or a fine (especially if you’re a student). However, some drivers have more significant issues concerning their licenses. When you need a lawyer for DUI, a commercial driver’s license suspension, a charge of the habitual offender, or similar charges in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, or the surrounding areas, then contact the criminal defense attorneys at Futeral & Nelson IMMEDIATELY to talk with us for FREE about your rights and how we can help you.

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