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In North Carolina, those charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) can face the loss of their driver’s license – something that can cause a significant interruption in life.

There’s a lot to understand about a driver’s license suspension in North Carolina but rest assured that not all hope is lost if you’re facing a DUI and the loss of your license. Read on to find out all you need to know about your options.

DUI Charge: License Suspension in North Carolina

In North Carolina, anyone charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will automatically have their license suspended for 30 days. However, you do have recourse to have your license temporarily reinstated during this period. On day 11, you can apply for a limited driving privilege. However, you must meet these criteria to qualify:

  • You had a valid license at the time of the offense or one that had expired for less than 12 months
  • You do not have another outstanding DWI charge
  • You have completed a Substance Abuse Assessment

If you are granted the limited driving privilege, you can drive up until day 30 of your license suspension between certain hours of the day, Monday through Friday. If you have to drive outside of this to go to work or school, you will need documentation providing that. This is something your attorney can ensure to help you navigate.

NC DWI Conviction: License Suspension

If you get convicted of a DWI in North Carolina, you will have your license suspended automatically for 12 months. You can, however, be granted limited driving privileges during that period if you meet the criteria. You must meet the same criteria described in the DWI charge section and get sentenced to a level 3, 4, or 5. You also cannot have had a blood alcohol content of above 0.15 percent to quality.

NC DWI Conviction: License Suspension

If your blood alcohol level was below 0.15 percent and you install an ignition interlock device, you can petition the court for limited driving privileges 45 days after your conviction. If you have get sentenced at a level 1 or 2, or aggravated level 1, then you cannot ask for limited driving privileges.

License Revocation Periods in North Carolina

The 12-month revocation period previously mentioned is for first-time DWI convictions in North Carolina. How long a revocation will last depends on a variety of other factors, such as how many previous convictions you have for a DWI, when any previous convictions occurred, and what level you got sentenced at.

As discussed, a first DWI will result in a revocation of one year, but that time will increase if you have other DWI convictions on your record.

  • One prior DWI conviction within three years – Four-year driver’s license suspension
  • Two or more DWI convictions within the last five years – Permanent revocation of your driver’s license

How To Have Your License Restored in NC

After your period of revocation has expired, there are some steps you need to take in order to have your driver’s license reinstated. The first step is to pay a restoration fee of $100. After that, your license will be reinstated with restrictions imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state. These restrictions include:

Restrictions Based on Alcohol Concentration

Your blood alcohol level when arrested will play a pivotal role in your case, including any restrictions placed upon your license. For those dealing with their first DWI conviction, you cannot legally operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.04 percent or higher, or you could face another DWI charge.

If it was your second DWI conviction within three years, you are not legally able to drive a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in your system for a period of three years. For those with two or more previous convictions, you may not operate a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in your system for seven years.

If you get convicted of an aggravated level 1 DWI, you can’t operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.04 percent for seven years. If it’s your second or subsequent aggravated level 1 DWI, you cannot operate a vehicle with alcohol in your system for seven years.

Ignition Interlock

Greensboro DUI Defense Attorney

You also will be required to have an ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle. This requires you to measure your blood alcohol content before starting the vehicle. Exceed the required level and you cannot take your vehicle anywhere.


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