Frequently Asked Questions

Parole & Pardon Hearings

What is the difference between probation, parole and pardon?

Probation is ordered by a judge as an alternative to incarceration and allows the convicted person to remain in the community. Parole is ordered by the Board of Paroles and Pardons and allows the convicted person to complete their sentence in the community. A pardon means that the individual is fully forgiven from all the legal consequences of his crime and his conviction. For example, it is possible for someone to receive a probation sentence without ever going to prison, typically for non-violent, first offenses. Someone who serves a prison sentence can be allowed by the State Board of Paroles and Pardons to serve that sentence in the community.


How does someone get a pardon?

Once they turn in the Pardon application, which consists of letters of reference and a fee, it is then investigated by Agents in the county where the first offense occurred. When the investigation is completed, it is given to the Paroles and Pardons Board for a hearing. 


How long will the entire pardon process take?

The entire process, from the date the application is received until a pardon hearing date is set, takes an average of seven to nine months. Cases are scheduled in the order in which the pardon applications are received.


How often does someone receive a parole hearing?

For non-violent crimes, every year, once eligible. For violent crimes committed before Jan. 1, 1996, every two years once eligible, assuming no other law prevents a parole hearing.


Does a pardon clear (expunge) my record?

No. The conviction will still appear on your criminal history; however, an entry will be added showing the conviction has been pardoned. Keep this in mind when completing a job application.


Does a pardon restore my right to own a weapon?

A pardon for the state of South Carolina only restores your South Carolina rights. If your record reflects federal or charges from other states which prohibit you from owning a weapon, you will still be prohibited from owning one after receiving a pardon from South Carolina.


Does one need a pardon to register to vote or to vote?

No. Once the sentence is satisfied, including completion of any term of probation, parole or community supervision, you automatically regain your right to vote.


My driver's license was revoked when I was convicted for driving under the influence (DUI). Will a pardon restore my license?

Not automatically. The SC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the agency that issues driver’s licenses. Because the DMV suspended your license, it is the only agency that can reinstate it. You should contact the DMV to see if it is possible to get your license reinstated, and what steps you must take to do so.

Ignition Interlock

What is a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID)?

A BAIID is a device that is designed to prevent a vehicle from starting if it detects a breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) over a pre-set level. In SC that pre-set level is .020%.


How do I accumulate points?

Each time you blow into the BAIID while the vehicle is in motion and your alcohol content is .02 or higher, you will receive a violation point. Failure to complete a running retest and failure to report to the service center every sixty (60) days for calibration will each result in one violation point.


Do I have to have a BAIID installed on my work vehicle?

If you or a family member own the business, you are required to have a BAIID installed on your work vehicle. If you or a family member do not own the business you are not required to have a BAIID installed on your work vehicle, and may contact the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) to apply for an employer exemption.


Sometimes another person drives my vehicle, will they have to blow into the BAIID to operate my vehicle?

Yes, however you are responsible for any violations associated with the device regardless of who drives the vehicle.


*What happens if I choose not to enroll in the IID Program?

Drivers with an offense date between January 1, 2008 and September 30, 2014 who decide not to enroll will remain suspended for three years beyond the initial suspension period. Drivers with an offense date on or after October 1, 2014 and decide not to enroll will remain suspended indefinitely.


How much does the IID program cost?

The cost to have the device installed and monthly fees will vary among manufacturers.


What happens if I drive my vehicle without a BAIID?

This is a new offense and would result in new charges against you.


What if I own/drive multiple vehicles?

The statute requires a device on all vehicles you drive.


How long am I required to be in the IID program?

The length of time you are required to participate will vary depending on the number of convictions you have received. The minimum length of time in the program is six months for those convicted of a DUI 1st with a BAC .15 or greater, two years for those having two convictions, three years for those having three convictions and lifetime for those having four or more convictions. Additionally, the time you are required to be in the program will be extended if you accumulate IID points. If you have an optional case and you elect to enroll in IIDP, completion of the program's minimum term is mandatory. Should you have additional IIDP requirements for multiple offenses, be advised IIDP cases run consecutively.


What if the vehicle is not registered to me?

You must install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device in any vehicle that you operate, regardless of who is listed on the registration.


Where do I go to have the BAIID Installed?

A list of certified manufacturers is located on the SCDPPPS website.


Will the BAIID turn off the vehicle while I'm driving?

No, at no point will the breath alcohol ignition interlock device shut off a vehicle.


Do I have to blow into the device while I am driving?

Periodically the device will indicate to the driver that they need to blow into the device. When instructed, the driver must provide a breath sample.


What happens if I have repair work done on a car with a BAIID?

You should inform the manufacturer prior to having the vehicle worked on and then present the receipt at the next calibration appointment. Note that anytime the battery is disconnected due to service work, you must bring a repair receipt to the next appointment.


Where do I go to have the BAIID removed?

You must go to the same manufacturer/service center provider who installed the device to have it removed.


What is a calibration appointment?

Every 60 days you are required to take your vehicle into the service center provider and have the BAIID inspected and calibrated. Failure to have this calibration completed will result in one ignition interlock point.


How do I set up calibration appointments?

You are responsible for making arrangements with the service center provider to have the device calibrated at least every 60 days.


What happens if I sell my vehicle?

Prior to selling the vehicle you must contact the IIDP office for instructions. You must have another vehicle available and reinstall the device on the same date you have the device removed from the vehicle you are selling.


I received Ignition Interlock points. What happens now?

If you receive a letter from the S. C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services (SCDPPPS) indicating that you received Ignition Interlock Points (IIPS) which results in an Accumulated Point Total of 3.5 or less, you have the right to appeal these points to a SCDPPPS Hearing Officer. Simply send a copy of the letter sent to you by SCDPPPS, a statement regarding why you think you should not have been assessed points, and any supporting documentation to SCDPPPS Ignition Interlock Appeal, P.O. Box 50666, Columbia, SC 29250. You have 15 calendar days from the date of the IIP letter mailed to you to send in your appeal. SCDPPPS will notify you via mail regarding the outcome of your appeal. Should you wish to appeal an assessment of IIPs which result in an Accumulated Point Total (APT) of 4.0 or greater, you may request a contested case hearing with the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings.


*I have accumulated IIPs. Is there any way to get rid of these points?

No, accumulated IIPs do not reset during your participation in the program. However, after completion of an IID suspension period, your IIPs will reset to zero once you re-enroll into the IID program.


I am from out of state and want to get a SC driver’s license. How long will I have to have a BAIID installed on my vehicle?

According to Section 56-5-2941 (D) if a person from another state becomes a resident of South Carolina while subject to an ignition interlock device requirement in another state, the person may only obtain a SC driver’s license if the person enrolls in the IIDP. The person is subject to the requirements of the IIDP for the length of time that would have been required for an offense committed in South Carolina or for the length of time that is required by the other state, whichever is longer.


When does my participation in the IID Program begin?

Driver participation in the IID Program begins when SCDMV has issued an “II” restricted driver's license. Participation does not begin when the BAIID is installed. If the driver's license is suspended at any time during the IID Program the time remaining on the program will be tolled.


Will mouthwash, pastries or other foods affect operation of the BAIID?

The sugar and yeast in pastries can CAUSE a BAIID to register a breath alcohol above the preset limit. Rinsing with water prior to blowing into the BAIID is recommended. The same is true for some mouthwash products. Wait at least 15 minutes after eating or using mouthwash to utilize the device.


Will the BAIID drain the car battery?

A breath alcohol ignition interlock device draws less than one-quarter of an amp when not in use and less than half an amp when preparing for a test. The device won't drain the battery of a vehicle with a properly functioning electrical system unless the car isn't started for 10 days. A car with a compromised electrical system may be affected sooner, but such a vehicle would have battery problems regardless of whether an ignition interlock device was installed.

*Updated 09-30-14

Victim Services

Will I see the offender at the parole hearing?

No. Parole hearings are conducted at 2221 Devine Street with the use of videoconferencing technology.  During parole hearings, inmates will be located at one of the SC Department of Corrections Institutions.  The inmates communicate with the board via videoconferencing, and are not seen by victims.


Will I see the applicant/ offender at the pardon hearing?

Since the majority of applicants are not incarcerated, there is a possibility of seeing the applicant on the day of the hearing.  However, every effort is made to ensure that there is no contact between the victim and the offender.  During the pardon hearings, victims wait in a separate waiting room, and do not present testimony until after the applicant has left the room.


How many people may I bring to the hearing?

We ask that you limit the number to five persons.  In fairness to all victims who may want to attend that day, we want to make sure there is adequate space for everyone.  However, if you feel that you must bring more than five, contact the Office of Victim Services at (803)734-9367 or 1(888)551-4118 (victims only, please).


Since the hearings are held downtown, is parking going to be a problem?

No.  There is ample free parking on all sides of the building.  The largest area of parking is behind the building.  Handicapped parking is available also.


How long will I have to wait before my case is called?

We try to hear cases with victims present as soon as possible during a hearing day.  However if we have a lot of cases with opposition, or have to wait for administrative reasons, you may to wait an hour or more.  You are welcome to bring books, etc. to occupy your time while you wait.  (There are magazines located in the waiting area.)


How long will I have to talk to the Board?

The Parole Board hears up to 70 cases per day so their time is limited.  Although there is no “set” time limit, usually a victims’ comments last no more than 5 minutes.


I can’t make it to the hearing.  Is there anything else I can do?

Yes, you can submit a letter or petition, call the Office of Victim services, or (in some cases) you may submit a DVD. (See requirements for submitting a DVD)


What happens if the inmate signs a waiver?

He (or she) will not have a parole hearing that year and will be automatically rejected at the inmate’s request.


Parole & Pardon Hearings
Ignition Interlock
Victim Services