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The Effect of Having an Identifying Code on Your License After Being Convicted of a Crime of Violence

Date: November 23, 2015

When you ask someone about the possible reasons that a person could lose his or her driver’s license, most people think of –

  • Unpaid traffic tickets
  • A DUI conviction
  • Accumulation of  the maximum number of points allowed

What most people don’t know is that if you have criminal charges against you for a “crime of violence,” you could be at risk of losing your driver’s license if convicted. In South Carolina, “crimes of violence” are classified by statute and are distinct from “violent crimes.” Crimes of violence range include, but are not limited to –

  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Assault with intent to commit any offense punishable by imprisonment for more than one year

In the event that you are convicted for a “crime of violence,” you are required to surrender your driver’s license to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Failure to submit your driver’s license to the Department will result in cancellation of your driving privileges. However, if you surrender your driver’s license to the Department, in exchange, you will receive a new license with an identifying code affixed to the reverse side.

The purpose of the identifying code is to alert law enforcement of your criminal background in the event of an encounter with a police officer.

Although the statute prohibits law enforcement from using the identifying code as grounds to extend the detention of a person in their custody, this part of the law is susceptible to abuse considering that a police officer’s suspicions are often elevated during an encounter with an individual with a known criminal history. Further, the identifying code remains on your driver’s license for five (5) years following the completion of your sentence (i.e. imprisonment, probation, or both).

If you or someone you know finds yourself facing this legal quandary, please contact the attorneys at Bernstein & Bernstein, LLC. We will advocate robustly on your behalf to protect your constitutional rights along with your driving privileges.