Did you know that there are steps you can take to maintain your driver’s license before a suspension is authorized through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV)? Unfortunately, many people start the prevention process too late. Tackling the issue early on could be the difference in your paying hundreds of dollars, attending court mandated programs, or obtaining high risk insurance.
Sometimes the interruption of your license can be stopped by simply updating your address, taking a defensive driving course, or showing up to court once you receive a ticket. Below are some tips to consider that may keep you on the road and prevent you from becoming entangled with the SCDMV.
Update your Address with the SCDMV
People tend to move around often, however, it is important to keep your address current with the SCDMV. You are required to update the information within ten (10) days of moving. This is important because it is where all correspondence will go to you. If your address is not valid, you run the risk of missing strict deadlines to appeal your suspension and will likely have to maintain the decision until you have satisfied all terms and conditions of the suspension. You may update your address online, by mail, or by visiting your local SCDMV branch.
The Points System
Are the points against your driver’s license steadily increasing and a suspension is looming? If so, you may want to take a defensive driving course. In South Carolina, various traffic violations are assigned points. If you obtain twelve (12) points your license will be suspended. By taking a defensive driving course you can reduce the number of points against your license. The course must be completed before your suspension begins as a point reduction will not cancel a suspension once it has been granted. You may find a list of certified driving schools at www.scdmvonline.com.
Attend your Court Date
While this may sound like the obvious thing to do, it is important that after you receive your ticket/citation, you show up to your court date and learn what your options are. Do not automatically inform the Judge that you are guilty, or the court will have to accept your guilty plea. Instead, arrive early to speak with the ticketing officer. You may have the opportunity to ask him/her to rewrite your ticket for a lesser offense.
You can also ask the Judge for a payment plan if you cannot afford to pay the entire fine. When discussing payment plans, it is important that you are realistic in indicating how much you can pay and when you will be able to submit a payment. Failure to pay as scheduled can result in a larger fine, a bench warrant, or even interception of your tax returns.
Bring evidence to prove that your issue has been resolved. If you did not have your proof of insurance at the time that you were stopped, or your lights were not working properly, etc. you should bring verification that these issues have been resolved to court with you and possibly have the case dismissed.
Lastly, if you are unable to make your scheduled date for a valid reason, call the court right away. It is important to notify the court before you are absent. If you do not appear, your license could be suspended, and you will have additional fines and obligations.
If you are past the point of fixing the issue with the court and need assistance with determining what other options you may have to lessen the penalty or get back on the road quicker, South Carolina Legal Services may be able to help. You may see if you qualify for our services by calling 1-888-346-5592 or applying online at https://www.lawhelp.org/sc/online-intake.