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My driver's license was revoked when I was convicted for driving under the influence (DUI).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 installed in a motor vehicle that measures the presence of alcohol on the driver’s breath, and will prevent the vehicle from starting if it detects alcohol in an amount that is over a pre-set level.


Who must have a BAIID installed in their vehicle?

Program requirements are caused by certain alcohol related violations of the state’s traffic laws. Depending on the violations, the driver may have an optional or mandatory requirement. Any driver with such a requirement who participates in the IIDP must have a BAIID installed in any vehicle they drive. The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles keeps the records that will determine the nature and length of a driver’s term in the Program.


When does my participation in the Program begin?

Participation in the Program only begins when SCDMV issues the driver an Ignition Interlock Restricted license. The driver must have a BAIID installed in order to get this license, but simply having the device installed does not start participation. The license must also be issued. If the Ignition Interlock Restricted license is suspended for any reason, participation time in the Program will be stopped for the duration of the suspension.


What happens if I have an IIDP requirement but choose not to install a BAIID and enroll in the Program?

Drivers with a mandatory IIDP requirement will remain suspended indefinitely until they have had the device installed and obtained the ignition interlock restricted license from SCDMV.  Drivers with an optional IIDP requirement may serve out the term of their suspension and may then obtain an unrestricted license.


How long will I have to have the BAIID installed?

Program term lengths are set by statute and will vary depending on the nature and number of violations. The minimum amount of time a driver will have to have the BAIID installed is three months; the maximum of a lifetime requirement is possible. Requirements that are for less than lifetime must be served consecutively, so drivers with more than one requirement will have to serve out each requirement in its entirety before beginning to serve the next. If you have been advised that you have a Program requirement, contact the IIDP for information about how long you will have to have the device installed.


Will I have to install a BAIID in my work vehicle?

Drivers subject to the interlock restriction may only drive vehicles that are equipped with a BAIID. However, there is an exception available to some drivers who must drive a vehicle for their employer. You must contact the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles to apply for this exception.


Where do I go to have a BAIID Installed and removed?

Contact information for the manufacturers certified to install BAIIDs in South Carolina is located under the Ignition Interlock heading on this website. The manufacturer of your choice will set up an appointment with a service center to have the device installed. You will also go to the same service center to have the device removed. 


How much will it cost to have the BAIID installed?

Fees for the installation and rental of the device will vary depending on the manufacturer.


I am not the only person who drives my vehicle. Will others be able to drive it after the BAIID is installed?

Yes, but they will have to blow into the BAIID and follow the Program’s rules. The driver subject to the ignition interlock restriction is ultimately responsible for any violations recorded by the device, so be sure that others driving your vehicle understand how to properly operate the BAIID.


What happens if I drive a vehicle that is not equipped with a BAIID?

If you are subject to the ignition interlock restriction, it is a crime to drive any vehicle that is not equipped with a certified, working BAIID.


What if I own or drive multiple vehicles?

If you are subject to the ignition interlock restriction, any vehicle you drive must be equipped with a BAIID. If the vehicle is not equipped with a BAIID, you may not drive it.


What if the vehicle I drive is not registered to me?

If you are subject to the ignition interlock restriction the vehicle must be equipped with a BAIID, but it does not need to be registered in your name.


What should I do if the vehicle equipped with the BAIID needs repairs?

The mechanic performing repairs should be advised that the vehicle is equipped with a BAIID and given the device manufacturer’s contact information. You should inform the manufacturer that repairs are being made, and also contact the Program. Get a detailed receipt for the repairs.


What happens if I sell my vehicle?

Prior to selling the vehicle you should contact the IIDP office for instructions.


What is an inspection?

Drivers are required to have the vehicle equipped with the BAIID inspected at least once every sixty days. The service center that installed the BAIID will perform the inspections. At the inspections, the device will be calibrated and the data it has recorded will be downloaded.


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

Once the vehicle has been successfully started, the BAIID will periodically indicate to the driver that they must blow into the device.  When so prompted, the driver must provide a breath sample.


Will mouthwash or food affect the BAIID?

The BAIID is designed to detect the presence of alcohol on the breath, whatever the source. Some mouthwashes may contain alcohol that the device will detect. Also, sugars and yeast in some pastries may cause the presence of mouth alcohol that the device will detect. However, alcohol from these sources will only persist in the mouth for a brief amount of time. The Program recommends that you wait at least fifteen minutes after eating or using mouthwash before blowing into the BAIID. Further, rinsing your mouth with water before delivering a breath sample can help disperse alcohol from such sources.


Will the BAIID shut down the engine while I am driving?

No. Once the vehicle is started, only the driver can shut down the engine.


What are the consequences for violations of the Program’s rules?

Drivers are assessed points for violations of the Program’s rules. The number of points assessed will determine what penalty will apply, if any. Point assessments may cause an extension of time the driver must participate in the Program, a requirement for an alcohol and drug abuse assessment, and the suspension of the driver’s license.


I have been assessed with Ignition Interlock Points. What happens now?

You will be notified of any point assessments via a mailed notice from the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. The notice will advise you of your rights to appeal the point assessments and how to do so.


I am an out-of-state driver with an Ignition Interlock requirement. I intend to move to South Carolina and get a driver’s license. Will I have to participate in South Carolina’s IIDP?

Yes. State law requires any person with an Ignition Interlock requirement from another state who becomes a resident of South Carolina to enroll in the IIDP.  The person will be required to serve a Program term length that is equal to that required for the same offense in South Carolina or for the length of time that is required by the originating state, whichever is longer.


Will the BAIID drain the car battery?

The BAIID should not drain the battery of a vehicle with a properly functioning electrical system. However, if the vehicle is left idle and not driven for prolonged periods, more than a week at a time, the battery can start to be affected. Further, if the vehicle’s wiring is in poor repair, a prolonged idle period may affect the battery sooner than it would in a vehicle in good repair.

Updated 03-03-20

Victim Services

Will I see the offender at the parole hearing?

No. Parole hearings are conducted at 293 Greystone Blvd., Columbia, SC 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