Effects of North Carolina DWI Law on Your License

One of the most important aspects of DWI laws in North Carolina is the implication that they have for your license.  For instance, immediately after you are charged with DWI, your license is revoked for thirty days.  However, most of the time you can request a Limited Driving Privilege from a judge after ten days of revocation.  This Driving Privilege will last for twenty days, to get you past the thirty days of revocation.   A Limited Driving Privilege costs $100.  You should not try to outsmart the system by using a duplicate license to drive after your license has been revoked.  If you do so, and get caught, you can be charged with Driving While License Revoked, and your situation becomes much worse.

After the thirty day revocation period is up, you can pay the civil revocation fee of $100 and get your license back.  You will be able to keep your license, unless you are convicted or plead guilty.  On your date of conviction, your license will be revoked again.  Typically, if your blood alcohol content is below .15, you are eligible to immediately request a Post-Conviction Limited Driving Privilege from the judge who sentenced you. If it is your first conviction, your license will be revoked for one year.  At the end of that year, if you have received a substance abuse assessment, and completed the education or treatment that is recommended, you can get your license back.  However, if you fail to complete the assessment and education or treatment, your license will be revoked indefinitely until you complete them.  If your blood alcohol content is above .15, then you will have to wait 45 days before you can get a Limited Driving Privilege, and you can only get one if you have had an ignition interlock device paced on your vehicle.

So what does the “Limited” part of “Limited Driving Privileges” mean?  There are several limitations placed on drivers using these privileges.  The major one is that they are authorized to drive from 6 am to 8 pm, Monday Through Friday for work purposes.  Should they need to drive outside of these hours or days to get to work, they can get a letter from their employer on letterhead describing the hours that they work.  Another restriction is that they cannot drive a commercial vehicle.

Another point of concern are “willful refusal” cases.  If you refuse to blow for the blood alcohol concentration test, or simply are unable to comply with the officer’s directions, then you will be marked as a “willful refusal.”  This will automatically result in a revocation of your license for 1 year.  You may be eligible for a Limited Driving Privilege after 6 months.  There are several reasons that you might not be eligible for a Driving Privilege after 6 months though, including a conviction for DWI in the past 7 years, a willful refusal in the last 7 years, or failure to get a substance abuse assessment and treatment, among others.  However, if it is claimed that you willfully refused to blow, and you actually did try to, don’t give up hope, because you can request a hearing on the matter in front of a Division of Motor Vehicles Hearing Officer.

These drivers license issues can have huge effects on you and your family.  An inability to drive often means an inability to get to work.  Of course, there are other options, such as riding with friends or family members, riding the bus, or taking a taxi, but these can often be frustrating and are not always a reliable source of transportation.  Clearly, having your own vehicle and ability to drive is much better than having to rely on others, or to pay someone else to drive you.

Clearly, if you have had previous DWIs, there are some differences from the basic statement of the laws above.  If you have had a previous DWI, you could expect to lose your license for longer than a year if you are convicted of the current DWI charge.  Generally, if you have had a previous DWI, you face greater penalties than a person who has just had their first DWI.

Of course, these brief words barely scratch the surface of all of the potential legal issues that come up with licenses during DWI cases.  Only by talking about the specific facts and circumstances in your case with a lawyer who handles DWIs can you get legal advice about your case.  To be frank, many times you or your lawyer may have to contact the DMV to find out its interpretation of the law, since it is given such broad discretion regarding licensing privileges. 

From the Author: Monroe, NC DWI Attorneys

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