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.

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.