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What is a Habitual Traffic Offender Charge in SC?

a police officer arresting a driver after pulling them over

If you've been deemed a Habitual Traffic Offender in South Carolina, you may face consequences that can have serious impacts on your life. Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status is usually given to individuals who have accumulated too many driving offenses or committed certain major traffic offenses. It is important to be familiar with the violations specific to South Carolina which are required for designation.

If you have recently received HTO status in South Carolina, a Habitual Traffic Offender Lawyer will understand the legal system and know the best ways to defend against these charges. Call Touma Law Group today at 864-618-2323 for a free consultation with a Greenville defense attorney on your specific case.

What Does Habitual Traffic Offender Status Mean?

A Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) in South Carolina is someone who has accumulated either ten or more convictions within a three-year period for traffic violations that carry a penalty of four or more points, or three or more convictions within a three-year period for any particular combination of offenses.

Greenville traffic lawyer Adam Touma

This includes offenses such as manslaughter or reckless homicide resulting from operating a motor vehicle, driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), reckless driving and driving under suspension (DUS), exceeding speed limits and other types of traffic infractions.

The consequences for being designated as a habitual traffic offender vary but typically involve license suspensions and reinstatement delays, fines, and possible jail time. In extreme cases, such as repeat DUI offenders, there can also be more severe penalties including higher bail amounts and enhanced sentencing minimums.

It is important to understand the implications of being categorized as an HTO so that you are aware of what actions may need to be taken in order to avoid falling into this category. An individual who is at risk should take precautionary steps like attending Traffic School classes, which can help prevent another conviction.

Is a Habitual Offender Charge a Felony in South Carolina?

The law in South Carolina stipulates that being classified as a Habitual Offender makes it a felony offense. Additionally, if you drive on a suspended license as a Habitual Offender, it can lead to serious criminal charges. When convicted of such an offense, the punishment is severe with up to 5 years in jail and loss of the right to ever drive again in South Carolina.

In cases of great bodily injury due to negligence, while driving during the period of suspension, the jail sentence may go up to 10 years. Additionally, if death occurs due to negligent driving during the suspension, the perpetrator may have to serve up to 20 years in jail.

a habitual traffic offender receiving a ticket for his multiple time

It's important that residents of South Carolina realize that any driving activity beyond their legal limits and in violation of regulations can lead them into much deeper legal troubles and significantly longer sentences than usually applicable for similar offenses involving non-habitual offenders.

What Happens if You Are Convicted of an HTO Charge?

Drivers in South Carolina who are habitual offenders will receive a notice from the DMV informing them that their licenses could be suspended. This notification is sent to the address listed on the DMV record, and it is important to keep this information up-to-date when moving.

The license suspension can be challenged within thirty days of receiving the notice by requesting a hearing. During this hearing, you have a chance to dispute any inaccuracies made by the DMV such as miscounting violations or misclassifying convictions.

South Carolina law lays out various steps to follow for drivers who have been identified as Habitual Offenders. Drivers must pay attention to any notifications from the DMV or else risk having their license suspended without proper explanation or opportunity for challenge.

All individuals have a right to challenge their license suspensions if they believe inaccuracies were made in the process, and going through these steps can help lead to a successful appeal of their case.

When Can a Habitual Offender Get Their License Back in South Carolina?

Reinstating a habitual offender’s driving privileges is possible in South Carolina, but with certain conditions. After two years of suspension, the DMV will review your application to get your license back. To be successful, you must meet these criteria:

  • No previous habitual offender suspensions in any state,
  • Not having driven a motor vehicle during the suspension period,
  • No arrests for drug or alcohol violations during that period, and
  • No traffic violations.

These stipulations may seem harsh at first glance but give those convicted of habitually bad driving the opportunity to drive again, clean up their record and become responsible drivers.

a habitual traffic offender receiving another ticket

When filling out an application to reinstate your license after a Habitual Offender suspension in South Carolina, you must provide proof of compliance with all of these conditions set forth by the Department of Motor Vehicles as well as recent proof of insurance. Any violation could lead to additional charges and further suspend or revoke your privileges to operate a motor vehicle.

All documents must be submitted with care and attention before being reviewed by DMV personnel so it’s important that every detail is accurate and complete before submission. If approved by the state DMV, applicants will receive notifications from local law enforcement agencies that state they will have an opportunity to drive legally once more in that state.

An Attorney Can Help Habitual Offenders in SC

An attorney can help Habitual Offenders in South Carolina by providing valuable legal advice and representation. The attorney can review your criminal history, advise you of your rights, and develop a strategy to minimize or reduce the potential penalties associated with the charge. Depending on the facts of the case, a traffic defense attorney might be able to negotiate a plea bargain or get charges dropped entirely. 

If you have been charged with being a Habitual Traffic Offender in South Carolina, it is important to seek out an attorney with experience in this area. Contact Touma Law Group in Greenville today at 864-618-2323 to schedule a free consultation and a criminal defense attorney can evaluate your case.

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