You are going to lose your license if you're convicted of a DWI. Now, keep in mind: A charge isn't a conviction, and you should get your DWI day in court, but this DWI article should give you the information you need if you are, in fact, confronted with a conviction. Obviously, we recommend that you consult with a DWI attorney for free and discuss ways to avoid a DWI conviction as soon as possible after a DWI stop.
Again, assuming you are convicted, how long you lose your license for will depend on what level you're sentenced at. It could be for as little as one year if you're sentence is a level five. A level one conviction could result in the loss of your license for four years, and you could lose your license permanently if you're convicted of Habitual DWI. The court will confiscate and destroy your license. Talk to our DWI lawyers in Charlotte if you are facing charges.
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But still, there is some hope. You can petition the court and ask for limited driving privileges.
Should such be granted, you will receive a form that allows you to drive to:
Driving may be legally allowed to accomplish some basic household maintenance. For example, you'll be able to go out and buy gas or groceries, or to pick up your dry cleaning. Obtaining limited driving privileges after a DWI conviction is a very specific process and it comes with some specific ground rules that have to be followed. Your DWI attorney will be more than happy to explain all of this in detail.
You are eligible for limited driving privileges if you were sentenced under level three, four or five and you otherwise had a valid driver's license. Judges can vary widely on the extent of the driving privilege that are offered after a DWI. Talk to your DWI attorney about the judge in question and discuss what level of discretion the judge has in granting specific privileges.
Now, if you didn't have a driver's license to begin with, no privileges will be obtained. Also, if you received a level one or two conviction or a Level A1 (aggravated) conviction, you will not be getting driving privileges. So, for example, if this is your first DWI conviction and your driving record is completely clean otherwise, if you had your child in the car when you were stopped, you still won't get any privileges for a year. Many legislators simply weren't aware of the impact this has on single parents who are caught with a person under the age of sixteen in the car with them. You will need three documents before you petition for limited driving privileges.
You should have had an assessment before your trial to get credit for it as a mitigating factor. After the assessment, the counselor will have made a written recommendation to the court concerning your treatment. That recommendation is proof of your assessment, and you'll need it when seeking limited driving privileges after a DWI.
You will also need an employer letter to explain the hours that you work. This isn't a letter that needs to discuss your job performance, but is important that the letter is on a company letterhead and that it includes the different hours that you work. Make sure it includes your odd hours, as well, and not just the standard hours you work. For instance, you may work a swing shift one week, but vary up to different hours in subsequent weeks. You'll want your employment letter to cover those hours so that you can petition for privileges during those times. The more hours you have in your letter gives the court reason to approve more hours for your limited driving privileges. For those of you who are self-employed, you can still get driving privileges. You'll want to ask your DUI attorney about the documentation you'll need in this case.
The final document you'll need is proof of insurance. This comes from form DL-123. You can get this form from your insurance agent, and it shows that you have valid insurance. This form is absolutely required. Nothing else will satisfy the court, including a copy of your policy or even an insurance binder. It's worth noting that the form is only valid for 30 days, so don't get it until you're about to go to trial. That way, it should be good for you to immediately use to petition for limited driving privileges if it's necessary for you to do so after your DWI trial.
Of course, if your case is continued, you'll have to get another form. After your DWI trial, your DWI lawyer is going to know whether you're eligible for privileges, so follow the DWI attorney's advice on when you need your documents so that you can petition the court as quickly as possible. As an example, if you blew a .15, you're not going to be eligible for limited driving privileges in the first 45 days.
Limited driving privileges are up to the judge to give, and while most judges will grant the privileges (they really don't want you losing your job and becoming a burden on society), it's important to understand that the final decision lies with the judge. You don't have a right to privileges despite being eligible to petition.
North Carolina state law says that the judge who heard your case rule on your limited driving privileges request. Should that judge be unavailable for any reason, the law allows the Senior Regular Resident Superior Court Judge to consider your request, assuming you were tried in Superior Court, that is. If you were tried in District Court, the Chief District Judge may rule on your request.
Should the judge give you limited driving privileges, you'll get a form from the court with the judge's signature and a raised seal. This form will authorize you to drive during certain hours, and possibly only along certain specific routes. This form is a court order and you must have it on you any time you are driving. Otherwise, you will be convicted of driving while your license is revoked!
It may be difficult to understand, but keep in mind that the granting of limited driving privileges doesn't change that your license was destroyed. The Department of Motor Vehicles has you listed as having your license revoked. That revocation doesn't go away during the hours the judge has allowed you to drive. The judge has simply given you permission to drive despite the revocation of your license due to your DWI. The DMV doesn't know this because the order is not listed in their computer system. Should an officer stop you and run a license check, it will come back as revoked, and you can then be arrested for driving while your license is revoked. This is why you must have the court's order that allows you to drive on hand; otherwise, you are not justified in driving anywhere in the state of North Carolina. You'll have to have the original order with the signature and the raised seal, and there's no way around it. Even if you are able to produce it later, you can still be convicted. Worse, you will lose your privileges and the DMV will tack another year on to the revocation of your license.
Again, we strongly suggest that you consult with a DWI attorney about your case as soon as possible. Our law firm has offices statewide, and we are prepared to offer you the DWI defense that you need. Also, you'll lose your privileges should you be caught driving with any alcohol in your system. The officer is permitted to take your driving privileges away on the spot if this occurs. You will also lose your privileges if you are ordered to perform community service and fail to show up or fulfill your hours.
Limited driving privileges are, of course, limited. This means that the judge will limit the times that you are allowed to drive. Standard work hours in North Carolina are recognized as 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. You may be granted permission to drive during all standard hours to work, school and for household maintenance. The judge could grant you a one-hour window to get to work and possibly a two-hour window in the evening to get home and take care of household issues. Regardless of what's granted, it's up to the judge in question. The judge may also restrict the route you take and limit your privileges to certain predefined routes to work or school or to do your grocery shopping. Often, you'll be granted permission to drive as needed to perform community service, or attend treatment programs.
Non-standard hours may be granted if you work late at night and/or on the weekends. Weekend household maintenance driving privileges aren't technically supposed to be granted, but some judges will okay allow for it if such is requested. Your DWI attorney should have some idea of how the judge feels about these requests and advise you appropriately. Basically, the judge can impose any limitation he or she sees fit. For example, your order could restrict you to driving a certain car, or it may restrict you to driving no more than 45 mph, but these aren't typical restriction requirements.
An ignition interlock system on your car is something that may be a prerequisite to any driving privileges. If you blew a .15 or higher, the court will insist that you install an interlock system in addition to not being able to get any driving privileges for the first 45 days. An interlock system is expensive and it must be installed on your car for the full year that your driver's license is revoked. Technically, you should be able to rent the system and show proof that it is installed on the car before you are granted limited driving privileges.
These limited driving privileges are good for one year. Afterwards, your license isn't automatically restored when your suspension is over. You still have to go down to the DMV and pay for your restoration. This is $100, and then your new license can be issued. Until then, your license will remain revoked.
Consult with our experienced DUI / DWI attorneys in Charlotte as soon as possible.