Driving After a DWI

A DWI charge usually results in an immediate suspension of a driver's license.  While this area of law is technical and complicated, you may be eligible for either an immediate restoration of full privileges (following a hearing) or a limited driving privilege after a 10-day period of non-operation.

This limited driving privilege (sometimes called a provisional license) can allow you to drive for work- or education-related purposes during specified hours. It can mean the difference between keeping employment, or losing your job.

The Standard LDP

The standard privilege permits the driver to operate a car between 6 am and 8 pm, Monday through Friday.  Most lawyers agree - although it is not settled law - that the privilege is only valid in North Carolina.  In order to get a limited driving privilege in another state, a driver is often advised to consult with the laws or DMV policies in that state.

Except in particularly egregious DWI cases involving serious injury or death, most judges will grant the limited privilege after the 10 day waiting period if there have been no recent previous DWI convictions.  That privilege costs $100 (as of 2017) and must be kept with the driver in the car so that it can be presented to an officer if you're stopped during the provisional period.

An extended LDP may be available and often requires proof that the client needs to drive in the evenings or weekends for work-related purposes.  If you are self-employed, you may be required to execute an affidavit attesting to your need for an extended privilege.  We can prepare the affidavit and have you come to our offices to sign the document before a notary public.

Post-Conviction Privilege

If an individual is convicted of drunk driving in North Carolina, the law mandates that the judge suspend the person's license for a year (in cases involving a first-time DWI).  Longer suspension can occur in certain aggravated or repeat-offender cases. People convicted of a DWI must not drive during the period of suspension; getting caught driving or driving drunk during a period of suspension for a previous DWI often results in additional periods of suspension, possible revocation of probation, and potential jail time.

The post-conviction privilege is similar to the standard pre-trial DWI provisional privilege with some exceptions.  If the state shows that there have been grossly aggravating factors making the DWI conviction a Level Aggravated One (A1), One, or Two for punishment purposes, no privilege is available during the suspension period, and the suspension period can last longer than a year.

In addition, if the person registered a .15 blood or breath alcohol content, the driver's license in many cases will face a 45-day period of non-operation following the conviction, followed by a year-long period during which an Interlock device must be installed the car that the person drives.  The interlock device is expensive, requires period check-ins with the private agency that installs the device, and requires the driver to periodically pull the car over and blow into the device to ensure she has not been driving drunk.

Zero Tolerance Privileges

Whether the privilege is a pre- or post-trial privilege, the privilege requires that person not driving with any impairing substance in his or her system.  The presence of any impairing substance - including impairing medication - is a violation of the privilege and will result in the cancelling of the LDP and additional penalties and DMV sanctions.

In addition, once the person has his or her right to drive restored following a DWI conviction, the person's driver license will have a zero tolerance restriction placed on it.

Obtaining a Privilege

We complete the process on behalf of clients to obtain any type of Limited Driving Privilege authorized by North Carolina law.  These laws require drivers to:

  • Obtain a substance abuse assessment and enroll in treatment
  • Provide proof of insurance through a DL-123 form
  • Show the court a certified copy of at least 7 years of driving history
  • Install an Interlock Device (in cases involving high Alcohol Concentrations only)


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