How to Regain My Driving Privileges

One of the most common types of driver’s license suspensions in North Carolina is from a DWI-related suspension. The suspension period is typically based on a person’s BAC when pulled over by an officer, as well as any previous violations that have been committed.

Drivers older than 21 years of age with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher will have their driver’s license revoked for 30 days. Those who refuse to take a chemical test after arrest will face immediate license revocation for 30 days, in addition to a 12-month revocation ordered by the NC DMV.

The following are the DWI-related suspension periods in North Carolina:

  • First offense – One-year revocation
  • Second offense – Four-year revocation
  • Third offense – Permanent revocation if one prior conviction occurred within the past five years
  • Fourth offense (felony) – Permanent revocation

When charged with a first-offense DWI, an individual can apply for limited driving privileges on the 11th day of that 30-day period. The person must have had a valid license or one that had been expired for less than one year, does not have any outstanding DWI charges, and has completed a substance abuse assessment by a certified substance abuse education center. This limited driving privilege is only for the period between day 11 and day 30 of the suspension, between the hours of 6 am and 8 pm, Monday through Friday.

Additionally, first-time offenders may be eligible for a limited driving privilege during the one-year suspension period. In order to qualify, the individual cannot have any other outstanding DWI charges, must have had a valid license at the time of the DWI offense (or one that had been expired for less than one year), and must have been sentenced to either a level 5, level 4, or level 3.

If an individual has been convicted of two DWIs, it may be possible for them to request a DWI restoration hearing with the NC DMV to request the reinstatement of their driving privileges after a substantial amount of time passes, often three years or more. First, a person submits the necessary paperwork (e.g. proof of alcohol abuse treatment, criminal record, driving record) proving your eligibility for a DMV hearing. Then, a hearing will be scheduled before a DMV hearing officer, where the person can present witnesses who can speak of their good character and sobriety.

If you refused to take a chemical test after a DWI arrest, you can apply for a DMV Refusal Revocation Hearing. At the hearing, you will be able to present evidence that you didn’t willfully refuse the test, that the test was performed improperly, or that the officer did not have probable cause to demand the test.

If you have been charged with a DWI in North Carolina, request a free consultation with our Raleigh criminal defense lawyers at Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh today. With more than 50 years of combined legal experience, we have successfully defended thousands of cases.


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