North Carolina Driving While Impaired: Limited Driving Privileges

A North Carolina DWI (Driving While Impaired) arrest will result in an automatic “civil revocation” of a person’s driving privileges in North Carolina. If the person holds a NC driver’s license, the person’s license is revoked for 30 days and the person may not drive in any state, including North Carolina. If the person holds a NC driver’s license, the license will be physically confiscated from the person.

If the person holds a driver’s license from another state, the person’s driving privileges in North Carolina will be revoked for 30 days, but the person may drive in any other state outside of North Carolina. That’s because the initial civil revocation only affects the person’s NC driving privileges. If the person holds a driver’s license from another state, the police should not (although they sometimes do) confiscate the physical license.

If the person otherwise had a valid license at the time of the DWI, the person – in most cases – will be eligible to apply for a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) during the initial 30 day civil revocation period. A limited driving privilege is always in the discretion of the presiding judge, so it is not automatic. But in cases where a person has an otherwise clean driving record and has complied with the statutory requirements, the person will most likely be granted a limited driving privilege on day 10 of the civil revocation period. The person’s LDP will expire on day 30 (in most cases) when the person becomes eligible to get back his or her driving license and full privileges to drive in North Carolina.

In order to apply for the LDP during the civil revocation period, the person must 1) get a Substance Abuse Assessment (here are some Wake County substance abuse providers) and pre-enroll in a treatment program. This will cost about $100 plus perhaps an additional $25 for pre-enrollment. The person must also 2) order a DL-123 form from the person’s insurance carrier. There’s no reason to explain to the insurance agent why you’re ordering a DL-123. Simply order it and have it sent to your lawyer (my fax number is (919) 887-7269) by fax or print one out. The person must also order a 7 year driving record from the DMV. This is used to show that the license was valid at the time of the arrest, and there were no recent DWIs. (Your lawyer should be able to order your Driving Record for you.)

You (or your lawyer) will need to fill out a few forms – a Petition for Limited Driving Privileges and an Order – for the 30-day Civil Revocation LDP. The privilege permits the person to drive for household or work or school-related purposes Monday through Friday, 6 am to 8 pm. The privilege also provides for extended LDP periods, but such extended LDP periods require separate proof to show that they’re necessary.

If the person drives on a revoked license without a valid LDP or drives outside of the LDP privileges, the person can be charged with a Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) which in North Carolina is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Therefore, it’s important not to drive without an LDP while the license has been revoked.

If your DWI results in a conviction (either by plea or after a trial), your license will be revoked for at least a year, as many as 4 years, and possibly “permanently”. Depending on the kind of revocation, you may be eligible for a LDP during the revocation period. Whether you get an LDP will depend on the number of DWIs you’ve had, the severity of the DWI you were convicted of, and the circumstances surrounding whether there was a “refusal” to blow into a the Intox EC/IR (breathalyzer machine) that’s used in North Carolina.

If you have any question regarding the LDP, feel free to contact Raleigh DWI Lawyer Damon Chetson at [#phone#] [#hours#].

For more on how to apply for a limited driving privilege, visit this link.

DWI Raleigh Breathalyzer Refusal Hearing Rights for the DWI Offender

In North Carolina, you have the right to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. In fact, the person administering the test – the police officer himself or the breathalyzer technician – is required to provide you with a written explanation of your rights.

If you are able to have someone – including an attorney – come to watch you get breathalyzed, that is best. Often, though, people don’t have an attorney to call.

They often have to make a quick decision about whether to blow into the breathalyzer machine or not.

If you refuse a breathalyzer test, your license will be revoked for one year, even if you are not convicted of the DWI. Here is how it works. Your driver’s license is revoked for 30 days. During that 30 days you can apply for Limited Driving Privileges (LDP) as described above. At the end of the 30 day period, you will probably get your license back.

About 2 to 3 months after your arrest, you will get a letter from the DMV telling you that you refused to take a breathalyzer test, and, as a result, your license will be suspended for a year. North Carolina can do this because North Carolina considers a DWI an implied consent offense: meaning that by having a Driver’s License in the first place, you consented to any breathalyzer tests lawfully demanded by a police officer. The fact that you refused to take the test, means that you violated the “implied consent” and lose your driving privileges for a year.

Once you receive the letter from the DMV about the year-long revocation of your license, you have 10 days in which to request a hearing. This hearing is in front of a DMV hearing officer, not a judge. The DMV hearing officer will only consider whether the officer had “probable cause” to pull you over and request a breathalyzer test. If the DMV hearing officer finds that the police officer did have “probable cause,” then you will lose your license for a year.

If the DMV hearing officer finds that the officer did not have “probable cause,” then you will not lose your license.

In 90% of the cases, the DMV hearing officer will find that the officer had “probable cause,” and will revoke your license for the year.

Note that a DMV hearing officer is not a judge. A DMV hearing officer’s ruling as to probable cause has no effect on your DWI case.

The bad news is that during the first 6 months of your year-long revocation for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer you have no right to drive at all. You cannot apply for Limited Driving Privileges. However, after the 6 months are up, you have a right to apply – and will normally get – Limited Driving Privileges.

Refusing to blow into a breathalyzer, therefore, results in some harsh punishments: the loss of any right to drive in North Carolina for six months. But refusing to blow into a breathalyzer can improve your criminal case, because the prosecution will not be able to show what your blood alcohol level (BAC) was at the time of your arrest.

Restoring North Carolina Driving Privileges following a DWI Conviction

In North Carolina, driving privileges can be suspended upon conviction of three DUIs within 10 years. If a driver is convicted of a habitual DUI, his license is suspended permanently and he can never drive again on North Carolina’s roads.

I’ve received some inquiries from individuals who have had their licenses suspended in North Carolina, and have since moved out of state and have tried to get driving privileges in other states.

But, because of their North Carolina convictions and suspension, other states have refused to issue driver licenses. In the 1960s, beginning with Nevada, various states in the United States began to cooperate with regard to driving records.

Before the 1960s, each state operated as an island, and so each state could either honor or refuse to honor another state’s determinations about an individual’s driver license. But the Interstate Driver License Compact brought “harmony” to the system, so that states agreed to honor each others’ determinations about driving records.

In addition, the National Driver Register was created as a computerized database so that states could share information about individuals who had been convicted of serious driving offenses – such as DUI – or had had their licenses revoked or suspended.

Individuals can take actions to restore their licenses. First, they should complete any recommended or mandated sobriety or alcohol treatment programs. It is important that they retain any documentation proving that they were enrolled in, and successfully completed those programs.

It’s better to be overprepared rather than underprepared for such hearings, because of the expense and because there chances for success aren’t guaranteed.

A person seeking restoration of driving privileges in North Carolina, so that they can get a driver’s license in another state should provide a complete residential history (with address and at least one witness) dating from the time of the first DUI conviction. In addition, they should be prepared to provide a complete criminal history, if any, and a complete work and education history.

The work history (name of employer, address, dates of employment) should include the name of a supervisor who can be contacted, as well as any co-workers who might serve as good witnesses. The education history should also be complete, with dates of enrollment, degrees or certificates earned, and any academic awards or achievements. In addition, if the person has worked for charities, regularly helps out at his or her church, or has other evidence of good citizenship or character, this can be useful to show someone who has been sober and is contributing to society.

North Carolina will also require that they provide at least three witnesses who can credibly testify at a restoration hearing about the person’s sobriety and ability to drive safely.

Finally, a word of caution. Many young people have Facebook or MySpace pages, where friends my refer to partying or drinking on the person’s “Wall.”

These pages could potentially be accessed by a hearing officer who might think that pictures of partying, drinking, or comments about the same indicate that the person still has a problem with drugs or alcohol. It’s best to think carefully about what goes on such pages, and to restrict friends from commenting if such comments give the wrong impression.

The Chetson Firm can work with clients who live out of state to put together the best package of materials that will increase the chance for success, and minimize that need to return multiple times to North Carolina for hearings.

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