'Habitual Offender' Law

Did you know that your driver's license will be suspended for five years if you are declared a 'Habitual Offender' by the Department of Motor Vehicles in South Carolina pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. S 56-1-1090?  Well, it is true.  The penalties associated with being classified in this manner are harsh and certainly worth note.  DUI/DUAC counts as one of these offenses making fighting a conviction for those offenses even more imperative.

While there is an appeals process through the administrative law court, there are no guarantees that your suspension will be reduced and you must serve at least two years of the suspension prior to filing for a reduction pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. S 56-1-1090.

Additionally, if you are convicted of driving under suspension while under the 'Habitual Offender' suspension, S.C. Code Ann. S 56-1-1100 stipulates that the driver is guilty of a felony and must be imprisoned not more than five years.

Immediately below is the applicable statute that explains what offenses count toward the 'Habitual Offender' classification.

Under S.C. Code Ann. S 56-1-1020, an habitual offender is a person whose record as maintained by the Department shows that he has accumulated the convictions for separate and distinct offenses described in subsections (a), (b) and (c) committed during a three-year period:

(a)   Three or more convictions, singularly or in combination of any of the following separate and distinct offenses arising out of separate acts:

(1) Voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide resulting from the operation of a mother vehicle;

(2) Operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotics or drugs; (this is the DUI/DUAC provision)

(3) Driving or operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner;

(4) Driving a motor vehicle while his license, permit, or privilege to drive a motor vehicle has been suspended or revoked, except a conviction for driving under suspension for failure to file proof of financial responsibility;

(5) Any offense punishable as a felony under the motor vehicle laws of this State or any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;

(6) Failure of the driver of a motor vehicle involved in any accident resulting in the death or injury of any person to stop close to the scene of such accident and report his identity;

(b) Ten or more convictions of separate and distinct offenses involving moving violations singularly or in combination, in the operation of a motor vehicle, which are required to be reported to the department for which four or more points are assigned pursuant to Section 56-1-720 or which are enumerated in subsection (a) of this section.

(c) The offenses included in subsections (a) and (b) shall be deemed to include offenses under any federal law, any law of another state or any municipal or county ordinance of another state substantially conforming to the above provisions.

Adam W. Howell, Esquire

For Aggressive DUI Defense, Call Epstein & Howell, LLC at (843) 735-8423.