South Carolina DUI: Provisional (Hardship) License Process

Are you facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges in  South Carolina? If so, you probably know that your driver’s license is at stake, and you face a possible suspension. If this happens, you’ll be unable to operate a motor vehicle.

This is why our DUI attorney in Charleston always advises drivers facing a drunk driving charge to get legal representation as soon as possible. Thankfully, South Carolina law allows such persons to apply for a provisional license. This article takes an in-depth on this permit and the eligibility requirement.

What Is a Provisional (Hardship) License?

Sometimes people make mistakes when they are behind the wheel of a car. One of such mistakes is driving while under the influence of an intoxicating substance, like alcohol. If this happens and you get arrested, your driver’s license will get suspended.

You can apply for a provisional or hardship license in such an instance. The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles issues special hardship licenses if you must drive for specific reasons, such as getting to work.

South Carolina also issues hardship licenses so a suspended driver can attend school, get medical care, drive their child to daycare, and run necessary errands. Therefore, a hardship license doesn’t allow you to go wherever you want.

Also, the hours you can operate a vehicle are limited. As a result, you will only be on the road during the permitted time.

A DUI Attorney in Charleston Explains the Requirements for Getting a Hardship License

As already mentioned, a hardship license allows people to meet important obligations that require driving. So, to get one, motorists have to prove to the court or the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles the fundamental reasons they need to drive.

A hardship license doesn’t restore all driving privileges; it normally comes with numerous conditions that the driver must meet. They include the following:

  • The driver must have a South Carolina issued driver’s license and not have any suspension on their record
  • The motorist must be in a South Carolina Alcohol and Drug Safety Program (ADSAP)
  • If required, the driver must have an ignition interlock device. It prevents the motorist from driving if impaired.
  • The driver must provide evidence showing that they live more than one mile from their school, work, or ADSAP center.
  • The motorist will also prove that there is no public transportation on the route from their home to the ADSAP center, place of work, or school.
  • The driver must show that they have an SR-22 insurance certificate, and it must cover a three-year period.

What Is an SR 22 Certificate?

South Carolina drivers involved in high-risk driving violations like driving under the influence (DUI) and reckless driving need an SR-22 form. Their insurance company files this form with the Department of Motor Vehicles confirming that they meet the state’s minimum car insurance requirements.

SR-22 insurance is the same product as standard car insurance, but premiums are higher due to the violations. When you apply for the certificate, your insurance provider will likely charge a fee, usually less than $50.

Applying for a Hardship License

South Carolina has requirements for obtaining a hardship license. Generally, a driver’s eligibility for a hardship license depends on why the driver’s license was suspended, the motorist’s driving record, and the type of license the driver had before the suspension.

The burden of proof to establish hardship usually is on the driver. You must show the court or the Department of Motor Vehicles that not being able to drive would negatively affect you or your family.

You may be required to attend counseling before appearing at a hearing to plead your case. Proof of auto insurance coverage may also be required. In some DUI cases, there may be a waiting period before you can apply.

Aside from the hardship license, there are other options you can explore. Below are the two top choices.

  • Temporary Alcohol License (TAL)

Within 30 days of your DUI arrest, you may be eligible for a temporary alcohol license (TAL). The TAL is a license with no route restrictions, so you can drive anywhere in South Carolina. (You cannot drive outside the state as a general term of being on bond unless you get express permission from a judge).

  • Route-Restricted Driver’s License

A driver can only use this license to and from specific approved locations. Some examples of limited locations include:

  • Work and school
  • Drug and alcohol counseling sessions
  • Court-mandated drug and alcohol treatment
  • To/from a house of worship
  • To/from court
  • To/from your attorney’s office

The court will take away the restricted license if there’s evidence that you’re using it to travel elsewhere or commit a traffic offense. This permit stays in effect until your suspension ends.

Can Your License Get Reinstated?

A license suspension is not permanent, meaning that it can get reinstated. However, South Carolina laws require you to meet certain conditions. They include:

  • Fulfilling your license suspension period
  • Satisfying any court requirements
  • Paying any legal fees and fines
  • Paying the driver’s license reinstatement fee of $100
  • Completing an alcohol and drug safety program, if applicable
  • Installing an ignition interlock device, if applicable

You can commence the reinstatement process alone or get a lawyer involved. When handling any legal process involving a DUI case, it is best to get legal representation. An attorney ensures that your rights are protected, informs you of your responsibilities, and tries to reduce your punishment.

Were You Arrested for Driving Under the Influence? Contact a DUI Attorney in Charleston Today!

A DUI charge has several adverse effects on your life. You start feeling the effects even before sentencing, especially if you cannot drive around due to license suspension. If you drive a commercial vehicle, you may lose your job as South Carolina does not issue hardship licenses for commercial drivers.

So, it is best to get ahead of the DUI case to avoid the license suspension penalty. To do this, you need to hire a legal team of experienced attorneys. With our Charleston drunk driving lawyers, you may never have to answer the DUI charge as we will look for loopholes to nullify the arrest.

If there are other punishments aside from the license suspension, our lawyers will work tirelessly to get you the best outcome. We understand that time is of the essence in DUI cases, so we encourage you to reach out to us immediately after your arrest. Contact us today to speak with one of our Charleston criminal defense lawyers.