Get Your License Back After a DWI
You will lose your license if you’re convicted of a DWI in North Carolina. 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 submit a petition 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 an NC hardship license, the judge will limit the times that you are allowed to drive. Standard work hours in North Carolina are 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. Often, you can get 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 limited driving privilege in NC. An ignition interlock prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a number of different substances in the person’s breath. If you blew a .15 or higher, the court will require you to install an interlock system. Also, you will not be able to get any driving privilege for the first 45 days after the conviction. An interlock system is expensive, but you must have it installed during the period that your driver’s license is revoked, and perhaps longer.
Who is Eligible for a Limited Driving Privilege in NC?
Your eligibility for a limited driving privilege depends heavily on the sentencing level for your DWI conviction. You may be eligible for a hardship license in NC if you receive a sentence under level three, four or five. And, you otherwise had a valid driver’s license at the time of your DWI charge. Judges can vary widely on the extent of the driving privileges that they offer after a DWI. Talk to your DWI attorney about the judge in question. Often, they’re familiar with the level of discretion the judge has in granting specific driving privileges.
If you didn’t have a driver’s license when you were charged, you will not be eligible for a hardship license. Also, if you received a Level one, Level two or Level A1 (aggravated) conviction, you will not be eligible for a limited driving privilege.
What Do I Need to Petition for a Limited Driving Privilege?
You will need a few documents before you may petition for a limited driving privilege. 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.
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.
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 does need to be on company letterhead. Make sure it includes your odd hours as well. 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 driving 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 DWI lawyer about the documentation you’ll need in this case.
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 to petition for a limited driving privilege in NC. 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.
Maintaining Your Hardship License in Good Standing
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 allow 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 get charged with driving with a revoked license.
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.
If an officer stops you and runs a license check, it will come back as revoked. 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 North Carolina, and you could get arrested for driving with a revoked license. You’ll need 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 get 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.
I cannot say enough good things about my attorney. His knowledge of DWI case law is vast and his professionalism in court was unmatched. He was able to get my entire case dismissed before trial by showing that the officer who charged me did not follow proper arrest procedure. The judge called his motion to dismiss “brilliant”. I highly recommend him for any DWI-related matter.
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.
Mr. Dummit was a great help to me in an interlock case. He was very honest about the process and what to expect in different cases. He was very re-assuring when all the facts about my case were gathered and consulted with me numerous times before the actual case. He was always very prepared, was available at times that many attorneys would not be, and treated me with the utmost respect in all situations. His staff was very friendly and professional in all their dealings with me and I would recommend his law firm overwhelmingly to anyone that is in need. I can not express my appreciation enough to Mr. Dummit, Mr. Fradin and their whole firm.
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