Orangeburg DUI Attorney: Habitual Offenders in South Carolina

South Carolina uses the category of “habitual offender” to refer to drivers who consistently violate traffic laws. There are some drivers who are arrested and charged with DUI once and never get in trouble ever again. Then there are other drivers who totally ignore the traffic laws and do whatever they want when they’re behind the wheel.

While your Orangeburg DUI attorney can try to get your DUI charges reduced or dismissed, they cannot control what you do when you’re on your own. If you insist on driving while your license is suspended, you’re asking for trouble. The same is true if you rack up three major traffic violations in a three-year period.

If this happens, there’s very little your DUI lawyer in Orangeburg can do to help. Here, we will discuss what a habitual offender status means. We will also briefly discuss what you can do to have your license reinstated and the label of habitual offender lifted from your driving record.

It’s the DMV That Issues the Habitual Offender Status

A lot of our clients assume that it is the criminal courts that assign you the label of habitual offender in South Carolina. However, it is actually the Office of Motor Vehicles that issues this label. Once they are notified that you have received your third major traffic violation in less than three years, they will mail you a notice stating that they intend to suspend your license.

You will have thirty days to appeal this finding. While you can certainly attend this hearing on your own, that may not be the best idea. It’s a good idea to retain an Orangeburg DUI attorney to attend the hearing with you.

They will do their best to convince the Office of Motor Vehicles that you are no longer a threat to society. If your attorney is able to convince them to reinstate your driver’s license, don’t mess it up. If you get pulled over and issued a ticket in the next two or three years, you’ll be labeled a habitual offender again.

Have You Had 3 Major Traffic Violations in the Last 3 Years?

There are essentially two ways you can be labeled as a habitual offender in South Carolina. The first way is by receiving three major driving violations within a three-year period. Major traffic violations include the following:

  • DUI
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while suspended
  • Driving while revoked
  • Causing a drunk driving accident.

The second way you can be labeled as a habitual offender is by racking up ten minor traffic violations over three years. Minor traffic violations are your run-of-the-mill offenses. For example, if you’re cited for speeding or distracted driving, it will count as a minor violation.

The same is true if you’re given a ticket for having an unregistered vehicle. These are offenses that don’t really put public safety at risk but are still technically a crime.

DUI arrest in Orangeburg South Carolina

Your Orangeburg DUI Attorney Can Help Get Your License Back

If you want to get your driver’s license back after being labeled a habitual offender, your Orangeburg DUI attorney can help. They will file a motion with the Office of Motor Vehicles in South Carolina and request that you be released from the habitual offender status.

To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You have never had a habitual offender status in any state before.
  • You have not driven since your license was suspended.
  • You have had no drug or alcohol-related offenses since you were labeled a habitual offender.
  • You have had no traffic violations since your license was suspended.
  • There are no other mandatory license suspensions pending.

Once your DUI lawyer in Orangeburg proves these five things, the OMV will make its decision. If they agree to live the habitual offender status from your license, you need to be on your best behavior.

When you’re labeled a habitual offender, your driver’s license is suspended for 5 years. You can apply to have the label lifted after serving two years of your suspension. If you mess up, you’ll have to serve out the remainder of your 5-year suspension.

Your DUI Lawyer in Orangeburg Can Go to the Appeal Hearing with You

If your driver’s license is suspended due to your being classified as a habitual offender, you will not get it back for at least two years. In fact, many drivers lose their driving privileges for up to five years. It depends on whether your DUI lawyer in Orangeburg can prove that you meet the criteria for reinstatement.

Just remember that this is a conditional reinstatement of your license. If you receive just one minor or major traffic violation during your probationary period, you can lose your license all over again. Hiring an Orangeburg DUI attorney may help prevent this from happening.

We suggest you contact our office as soon as you receive the habitual offender notice from the Office of Motor Vehicles. Since they’re the agency that issued the suspension, they are the agency that must lift it. The last thing you want to do is go to your hearing unprepared.

You only get one chance to do this right. Retaining an Orangeburg DUI lawyer can mean the difference between getting your driver’s license back or waiting another two or three years to have it reinstated. The Office of Motor Vehicles does not take habitual offenders lightly. The last thing you want to do is screw up your appeal. Since you only get one chance to impress the panel, you need to do it right.