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Convicted of DUI or DUAC? Better turn in your license.

Convicted of DUI or DUAC? Better turn in your license.

Did you know that it is against the law for someone to possess their driver's license after they have been convicted of DUI or DUAC? And by license I mean the physical card people carry in their wallet or purse. South Carolina has a state law requiring that your driver's license must be turned over to the DMV. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to thirty days in jail or a fine.

Most area courts will request that a driver's license be turned immediately after a conviction. This may be done by a court staff member a few feet from the judge, or by the fine payment window. But not all courts do this. A few weeks ago I was speaking with the clerk of a busy municipal court who advised that she didn't request driver's licenses, and just let the DMV take responsibility. While this policy probably saved her office a lot of time & hassle, it also setup a lot of people to be charged with a failure to surrender offense.

Nearly everyone convicted of DUI or DUAC understand that their driving privileges are immediately suspended. They go ahead and enroll in ADSAP, get SR-22 car insurance, and receive a provisional license from the DMV before they start driving again. So while they may not be driving under suspension, they can in fact run afoul of the law requiring the surrender of the license.

Here's what happens: when they go to court they either didn't bring their license with them, or the court doesn't ask, or for whatever reason it isn't suspended. Or they do turn it in to the court but then later find a duplicate license in their junk drawer and just stick it back into their wallet out of habbit. Now two weeks later they get stopped for speeding by the police, open up their wallet in front of the cop who then happens to notice both the provisional as well as regular driver's license (and yes, police are trained to look out for this sort of thing). Just like that you can be re-arrested and taken back to jail, or at the minimum given a ticket for an expenive, completely avoidable fine.

I've spoken to people before facing these fines who tell me that the reason they carried around their regular license was so that they could use it for ID purposes. They were understandably embarresed to have to pull out a provisional license every time they went to the bank or tried to buy a six-pack. But regardless of the intentions, this charge is completely avoidable. If your license is suspended (really for any reason, so this isn't limited to DUI or DUAC situations) do not go carrying around your regular license.


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