How DWI Can Affect Your Driver’s License2019-03-04T14:44:36-04:00

NC Hardship License 
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Get Driving Again After a DWI

You will lose your license if you’re convicted of a DWI. It could be for as little as one year if your sentence is a level five, four or three. But, a level one or level two conviction could result in the loss of your license for four years. But, all hope is not lost. If you are eligible, you may petition the court and ask for a hardship license in NC. A hardship license will give you a limited driving privilege in North Carolina.

What Kind of Limited Driving Privilege Does a Hardship License Give You?

With a hardship license 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 also grant you a one-hour window to get to work and back. Regardless of what’s granted, it’s up to the judge in question. The judge may also restrict 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.

Will I need an Ignition Interlock System?

An ignition interlock system may be a prerequisite to receiving any driving privilege. An ignition interlock is a device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a multitude of different substances in the person’s breath. If you blew a .15 or higher, the court will require that you install an interlock system in addition to not being able to get any driving privilege for the first 45 days after conviction. An interlock system is expensive, but it must be installed during the period that driver’s license is revoked, and perhaps longer.

Who is Eligible for a Hardship License in NC?

Your eligibility for a limited driving privilege through a hardship license depends heavily on the sentencing level for your DWI conviction. You may be eligible for a hardship license in NC if you were sentenced under level three, four or five and you otherwise had a valid driver’s license at the time you were charged with DWI. Judges can vary widely on the extent of the driving privileges 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.

If you didn’t have a driver’s license when you were charged, you will not be eligible for a hardship license after a conviction. Also, if you received a Level one, Level two or Level A1 (aggravated) conviction, you will not be eligible for driving privileges.

What Do I Need to Petition for a Hardship License?

You will need a few documents before you may petition for a hardship license. The following documents are used to determine your eligibility to petition for a limited driving privilege in NC. After getting approved, your attorney will let you know which documents you need to present your petition to the judge.

  • A Treatment Recommendation Letter from a Counselor
    Your attorney may recommend that you complete an alcohol assessment before your trial to get credit for it as a mitigating factor. After the assessment, the counselor will have written a recommendation to the court concerning your treatment. That recommendation letter is proof of your assessment, and you’ll need it when seeking a limited driving privilege after a DWI conviction.

  • A Letter From Your Employer With Your Hours
    You may also need a letter from your employer stating the hours that you work. This isn’t a letter that needs to discuss your job performance, but it is important that the letter is on company letterhead and that it includes the different hours that you may work during the period of your DWI suspension. 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 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 a reason to approve more hours for your limited driving privilege. You can also get a hardship license if you are self-employed. You’ll want to ask your DUI attorney about the documentation you’ll need in this case.

  • Proof of Insurance
    The final document you’ll need is proof of insurance. This comes in a form called a 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 a limited driving privilege 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 lawyer will know whether you’re eligible for limited privileges. Prior to trial, he or she will inform you of what you need and when you need your documents. Submit these documents as soon as possible so that you can petition the court as quickly as possible.

Remember, a hardship license is up to the judge to give. While many 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 a limited driving privilege despite being eligible to petition.

Limited Driving Privileges - Good Standing

Staying in Good Standing With Your Hardship License

Should the judge grant you the limited driving privilege, 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, and of course, for limited reasons. This form is a court order and you must have it on you any time you are driving. If you don’t, you will likely be charged with driving while your license is revoked.

Keep in mind that a hardship license does not change the fact that your license is suspended. 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. Should an officer stop you and run a license check, it will come back as revoked; however, the record should say that you have a limited driving privilege, but it won’t tell the officer the restrictions on your hours and driving. This is why you must have the court’s order that allows you to drive on hand; otherwise, you are not justified to be driving anywhere in the state of North Carolina, and you could then be arrested for driving while your license is revoked. 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 could still be convicted. Worse, you could lose your privileges and the DMV could tack another year on to the revocation of your license.

Consult with a DWI Lawyer Today

Having an experienced lawyer by your side is a must-have when you’re facing a DWI conviction. Speak with one of our DWI attorneys today and get started on your path to driving again. Your initial DWI consultation is always free.

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Mike represented me on two DWI charges both were dismissed. DWI charges are hard to overcome if convicted you will lose your license, pay high fees, do community service, and your insurance will really be high. If you want to have a fighting chance call Mike he is very knowledgeable and helpful.

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