You know the phrase, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone?” This phrase is especially true when it comes to your driver’s license.
How do you get to work? How do you take your kids to school? Having your license revoked is something that can seriously impact your whole life in a very negative way.
Because of this, some people simply choose to drive anyway – but this is a really bad idea. Driving while your license is revoked (DWLR) is a separate and incredibly serious crime in North Carolina, with unique language and penalties that are not commonly found throughout the United States.
Repeat offenses of DWLR can result in the permanent revocation of your license. Before you make a decision that you can’t take back, read over these basic DWLR facts so you know your rights and North Carolina’s laws regarding DWLR.
Is There a Difference Between Suspension and Revocation?
Not really. In both cases, you have lost your driving privileges. However, revoked licenses usually result from more serious violations, and mean that you will lose your driving privileges for a longer period of time.
When Can Your License Be Revoked?
North Carolina takes traffic violations very seriously. Some can even become criminal offenses. The following offenses may result in your license being suspended or revoked:
- Too many points on your driving record
- License fraud
- Excessive speeding
- Reckless driving
- Hit and Run
There are also certain non-traffic violations, including failure to appear in court, failure to pay fines or court fees, or failure to pay child support, which could result in your license being revoked.
What If I Am Caught Driving And I Was Never Issued a License?
If you are caught driving without a license because you do not have one, you can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor.
How Do I Know If My License Is Suspended?
If your license is suspended, the North Carolina DMW should notify you immediately in writing. However, if you are unsure, you can check your driving record and status online. A suspended license becomes a part of your permanent driving record, which can affect your insurance rates and future background checks.
What If I Didn’t Know My License Was Revoked?
North Carolina amended its laws regarding DWLR in 2013. In those amendments, lawmakers decided that DWLR can only be charged if the driver knows that his or her license has been revoked. If you can prove in court that you were unaware of the revocation of your license, you may be able to avoid a conviction and penalties.
How Serious is DWLR? What are the Charges?
The laws have changed recently regarding charges as well. The charges for DWLR in North Carolina depend partially on the initial charges that resulted in your license being revoked.
For most instances of DWLR, you can be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor.
The following situations will result in a class 2 misdemeanor charge:
- Driver’s revoked license was restored but the driver failed to hold insurance required by law
- Driver’s license was revoked due to a civil license revocation from an implied consent charge and drove after revocation period had expired
- Driver’s license was revoked for failure to pay child support
If a driver’s license was revoked on an “impaired driving license revocation,” the DWLR charge is a class 1 misdemeanor. An “impaired driving license revocation” means that the driver’s license was revoked on the following charges:
- DWI or habitual DWI
- Refusal to take a chemical test
- Manslaughter or second-degree murder involving impaired driving
- Felony involving use of motor vehicle involving impaired driving (including death or serious injury)
How Long Will My License Be Revoked If I Am Convicted?
For a first DWLR conviction, you will face an additional one-year suspension. After a second DWLR conviction, you face an additional two-year suspension. A third DWLR results in a permanent revocation of your license. Yes, you read that right: you can’t have it restored. Usually…
Can I Have My License Restored?
Many drivers don’t know that even though your license has been revoked (even permanently), you have options for getting it restored and being able to drive with limited privileges.
What Steps Should I Take When My License Has Been Revoked?
Call a lawyer immediately. In some cases, you will be able to restore your license, or drive with limited driving privilege to avoid a DWLR charge. If you face DWLR or related charges, a lawyer will also be able to go through your driving record with you and represent you in court to prevent future convictions and marks on your driving record.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense. He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.