How can I get my license back after a Raleigh DWI?

In a standard, first-time DWI in North Carolina, there are generally two points at which a license is suspended. First, at the time of arrest, if the driver refused a chemical analysis or if the person registered a .08 or above on an Intox EC/IR II machine, the person will have his license revoked as part of a civil revocation process.

What is a Civil Revocation following a DWI?

A civil revocation is normally a 30-day revocation period beginning on the date of arrest (which may be different from the offense date if the revocation began in the early morning hours of the date following the stop of the vehicle).

A person can get that 30-day period effectively overturned by filing for a hearing, however most DWI lawyers will simply request a limited driving privilege. Generally there is not a good reason to request a hearing, except in cases involving FAA review or in cases involving a commercial driver license.

The civil revocation period does not affect the revocation period if you are convicted of a DWI. North Carolina appellate courts have ruled that the short civil revocation period is reasonably related to the health and safety concerns and that it is not a punishment that invokes double jeopardy concerns.

Consequently, you get no credit for the civil revocation period against the revocation period if you are convicted of the same DWI.

What do I need to do to get an LDP?

During the initial civil revocation period, you can normally get a limited driving privilege if you have proof of your driving record going back at least 7 years, if you had a valid license at the time of the offense date, if you have completed an alcohol assessment, and if you have gotten a DL-123 form from your insurance company.

A judge is not required to grant the Limited Driving Privilege. If your paperwork is not in order, the judge will not grant the order. But even if your paperwork is in order, a judge may deny the limited driving privilege if you have past DWI convictions, or if you are requesting excessive hours that go beyond what might reasonably be required to allow you to keep your job.

You can request standard hours, which are normally allowed by a judge, of 6 am to 8 pm, Monday through Friday for work- or house-hold related purposes. If you wish to have extended hours, you can only get those in order to drive to and from work. You may not have extended hours for any other purpose, and you would be well advised to not abuse your limited driving privilege because if you are arrested during this period for driving beyond your privilege, you face a new criminal charge.

When do I get my license back?

You normally will get your license back after the 30 civil revocation period ends by paying a $100 fee to the Wake County Clerk of Court (if your DWI was in Wake County).

Your license will be valid until and unless you are convicted. If you are never convicted of the DWI, then your license is normally not suspended, except in the circumstance in which you have a refusal. A DWI refusal can trigger a revocation of your license by the DMV for a year.

Will my license be suspended for a DWI conviction?

If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a DWI, North Carolina imposes a mandatory suspension of at least a year. Judges have no power to override the suspension upon a conviction.

A suspension can be longer in cases of multiple DWI convictions within a seven year time frame.

And a suspension can involve a period of non-operation for 45 days, followed by the installation of an interlock device in the vehicle and additional limited driving privilege restrictions.

Finally, a suspension can involve a 6 month period of non-operation if the suspension occurs in conjunction with a DWI refusal.

The collateral consequences of a DWI conviction can be severe: it’s unlikely, for instance, that you would be permitted to rent a car, for instance for business or on vacation, during the year since rental companies typically want to know that you are licensed, and your limited driving privilege is not a license.

Many companies that provide company vehicles, even if these are not commercial vehicles, may not permit employees with limited driving privileges from driving the company vehicle. These are company policies, and not DWI laws.

Can I avoid the Driver License suspension from a DWI?

Yes. You can avoid a driver license suspension by winning the DWI either through a dismissal or through a not guilty finding and by winning any refusal hearing by filing a timely request for a DWI hearing.

However, if you lose your DWI case, your license will be suspended, and while you may be eligible for a limited driving privilege, the DMV is essentially the sole agency that can restore your driving privilege.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.