Ticket Fines and Penalties in South Carolina
SC traffic ticket fines vary by violation, but generally they're the same throughout the state. Each court has a list of fines for each violation, ranging from the minimum fine amount to the maximum fine amount. Typically, traffic ticket fines don't exceed $500 (with the exception of DUI violations).
Ultimately, the final amount within that range is up to the judge.
Some courts allow drivers to pay traffic tickets online, and if this is an option for you, you'll find your ticket costs during that process.
For information more specific to your violation, contact your court.
Court Costs and Other Surcharges
Similarly, judges have a range of minimum and maximum court fees; the fee you receive is up to your judge.
You probably won't get a concrete number, but you can get a range specific to your court and violation when you contact your court.
DUI surcharges range depending on your offense.
Depending on your offense, you also face paying for:
- Reinstatement after a license suspension or revocation (see below).
- Enrollment in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Awareness Program (ADSAP) (see below).
- SR-22 liability insurance coverage.
- An ignition interlock system.
Refer to SC DUI for more information.
License Reinstatement After DUI
License reinstatement after a DUI is $100, regardless of the offense number or if it's a Felony DUI.
(Plead Guilty or No Contest)
- Pay the fine, possibly online.
- Accumulate driving record points.
- Risk license suspension or revocation.
- See increased auto insurance rates.
- Possibly attend a defensive driving course to combat points and get an insurance discount.
Learn more about
Paying your Traffic Ticket »
(Plead Not Guilty or Nolo Contendere)
- Contest ticket during your hearing.
- Possibly have a traffic ticket attorney represent you.
- Gain no penalties if found not guilty (except applicable court/attorney fees).
- Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).
Learn more about
Fighting your Traffic Ticket »
Auto Insurance Rate Increase
Most auto insurance companies increase rates for policyholders' convicted of traffic violations. So, it's natural to think of these higher costs as just more money you have to pay for committing a traffic offense.
However, you can try to combat these higher rates by:
Aside from fines, surcharges, and education courses, the most common penalties for traffic violations are license suspension and revocations. Sometimes, the DMV withdrawals or cancels licenses, too.
SC Driver's License Suspension, Revocation, Withdrawal, and Cancellation
License Suspension: When the DMV suspends your license, it takes away your driving privileges for a certain period of time. Once that time is up, and you meet restoration requirements like retaking the written and road tests, you can apply for license reinstatement.
License Revocation: Revocations are similar to suspension, but usually they last longer. Reinstatement requires completely starting over with a new license application, as if you've never had a license before. Some reinstatements involve financial responsibility requirements.
License Withdrawal: License withdrawal takes place when the DMV determines a driver is not qualified to have a driver's license. Sometimes this relates to traffic violations, though suspensions and revocations are the more common penalties.
License Cancellation: Usually, the DMV cancels a license when it's determined the license shouldn't have been issued in the first place. Often, this deals with the driver providing inaccurate or false information.
As you can see, license withdrawal and cancellations mostly deal with ineligibility, whereas suspensions and revocations deal with traffic violations.
The SC Driver License Manual outlines reasons the state will suspend or revoke a license due to traffic violations.
- DUI related to alcohol or drugs.
- Second or subsequent reckless driving convictions within five years of the previous conviction.
- You lend another person your vehicle for racing on a public street or highway.
- You commit enough violations to accumulate too many points on your driving record (see below).
NOTE: Racking up certain offenses will get you a habitual offender label, which also results in license suspension. Learn more at the state's Habitual Offender FAQs.
- Racing on a public street or highway.
- Committing a felony with a motor vehicle.
- Failing to stop and give assistance during an accident in which you are involved and someone is injured or killed.
- Causing a fatality due to careless driving.
Per the SC Point System, the DMV suspends your driver's license if you accumulate 12 points or more.
You can reduce your points by attending approved defensive driving course. You can take one every 3 years for a reduction of 4 points.
Learn more at Defensive Driving.
Penalties for Drivers Younger than 21
Penalties specific to drivers younger than 21 years old relate to DUI offenses, and these are broken into two categories: DUI and chemical test refusal.
DUI for drivers younger than 21 years old means operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.02% or higher.
When this happens, you lose your license for:
- 3 months, on a 1st offense.
- 6 months, if any prior DUI, Felony DUI, or Implied Consent violations have occurred in the last 5 years.
Chemical Test Refusal
Refusing to take an intoxicants test brings license suspension for:
- 6 months, on a 1st offense.
Refer to the SC Driver License Manual for more information about young drivers and traffic violation penalties.
Penalties for South Carolina Commercial Drivers
You must notify your employer within 30 days of receiving a traffic ticket violation.
Certain traffic violations carry the following federally mandated penalties:
The following major offenses carry a license suspension or disqualification for 1 year:
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with a BAC of 0.04%.
- Refusing a sobriety test.
- Leaving an accident scene.
- Committing a felony with the vehicle.
- Driving a CMV with a suspended, revoked, or canceled CDL.
- Negligent driving resulting in fatality.
The following are considered serious offenses:
- Speeding 15 miles or more over the limit.
- Driving recklessly.
- Changing lanes improperly.
- Following too closely behind another vehicle.
- Driving a CMV without having a CDL.
- Driving a CMV without having your CDL in your possession.
- Driving a CMV without the proper CDL endorsement.
- Violating a state law of texting while driving.
If you're convicted of a:
- 2nd offense within 3 years, you'll lose your license for 60 days.
- 3rd offense within 3 years, you'll lose your license for 120 days.
You can lose your license for 180 days to 2 years if you violate a driver or vehicle out-of-service order while transporting:
- Nonhazardous materials.
- Hazardous materials required to be placarded, or while driving a vehicle designed to transport 16 passengers or more.
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