In general, traffic violations (including speeding or driving without insurance) won’t get you thrown in jail. However, there are penalties to these crimes which can make you feel imprisoned.
Case-in-point: having your license suspended. Not being able to drive can be an incredible hardship – especially if you need to get to and from work, school, or other necessary regular activities. You can’t just ignore the suspension and drive anyway, though, because if you get caught, you can face more serious penalties. Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) may result in class 1 misdemeanor charges, and if convicted, you could face jail time and heavy fines.
Luckily, there is an alternative. Before getting into that, though, let’s take a look at what charges or violations in our state can result in getting your license suspended.
When Will North Carolina Suspend Your License?
The following charges or violations may result in a suspended license:
- Refusing to Take Chemical Test
- Two Speeding Convictions in 12 Months
- One Speeding Conviction and One Reckless Driving Conviction in 12 Months
- One Speeding Conviction (when going over 75 MPH)
- Accumulating 12 Points in 3 Years
- Driving Without Insurance
- Death By Vehicle
- Car Racing
- Obtaining a Fraudulent Driver’s License
For minor speeding convictions and driving without a license, your license will only be suspended for 30 days. More serious offenses, however, such as DWI or obtaining a fraudulent driver’s license, can lead to your license being suspended for up to a year. If you are convicted of a third DWI or commit felony death by vehicle, your license will be suspended permanently.
Now, the vast majority of people will never have to face felony death by vehicle charges or even DWI charges, but lots of people get traffic violations from time to time. All it takes is a bit of carelessness – or bad luck – to get several violations close together. If that happens, you could be on your way to a suspension.
But What If I Need to Drive?
For many people who have jobs, childcare responsibilities, or medical needs, a suspended license is more than just a mere inconvenience or a slap on the wrist. License suspension can threaten a person’s livelihood.
North Carolina has seen many of these cases, which is why our state has made Limited Driving Privileges (LDP) an option for many drivers. Limited driving privileges (often called “hardship licenses”) allow you to drive to certain places, including work or medical care facilities, while your license is still suspended. You can’t go joyriding after hours with LDP, but you may be able to drive for the following purposes:
- Maintenance of your household
- Court-ordered treatment or assessment
- Court-ordered community service
- Emergency medical care
- Religious worship
Can I Apply for LDP?
No matter how long your license is suspended for, you may still be able to obtain LDP, but you will have to wait and comply with the suspension for a short period of time before getting those privileges:
- If your license is suspended for one year, you will have to wait 90 days.
- If your license is suspended for two years, you will have to wait one year.
- If your license is suspended permanently, you will have to wait two years.
However, if the following apply, a driver cannot apply for limited driving privileges:
- The driver’s license was suspended for a DWI conviction.
- The driver has multiple, concurrent license suspensions.
- The driver has requested LDP in the past three years.
- The driver is not facing criminal charges in North Carolina or other states.
How Do I Apply for LDP?
Once you have met the qualifications and complied with your license suspension for the appropriate amount of time, it’s time to apply for LDP. You will have to turn in a petition to the court in the county where your driver’s license was issued. Know that you may have to attend a hearing before your license is reinstated with LDP.
When you are filling out your application or preparing for your hearing, consider the following:
- What purposes will the LDP help you serve?
- What times do you routinely need to drive?
- Where do you need to drive to, and what route do you usually take?
A lawyer can help you through this process, and represent you while you are trying to get your license back.
If you have yet to be convicted, you may not have to deal with a suspended license in the first place. A history of good driving behavior and other defenses may be used to help get your charges dropped or mitigated. Talk to a North Carolina before you head to learn which strategies they recommend using in your specific situation.
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.