Limited Driving Privileges in North Carolina

If you’re arrested, charged, or convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in North Carolina, you will face some kind of license suspension. The good news is, if you are eligible, an experienced North Carolina DWI attorney may be able to help you obtain limited driving privileges.

When Can Driving Privileges be Revoked?

In addition to losing your license for drunk driving, you can also have driving privileges revoked in North Carolina for:

  • Obtaining 12 points within a three-year period
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Aggressive driving
  • Reckless driving
  • Using a vehicle to flee arrest
  • Excessive speeding
  • Racing on public roads
  • Failing to move for emergency vehicles
  • Passing stopped school buses
  • Transporting illegally-made liquor with the intent of selling
  • Receiving moving violations on an already-suspended license

The length of the suspension varies depending on several factors. For instance, the suspension period for a conviction is much longer than if the accused is charged but not convicted. Previous DWI arrests and convictions can also factor into how long a driver’s license is suspended.

What are Limited Driving Privileges?

Limited driving privileges allow someone whose license has been suspended to drive for “essential purposes.” Some activities that may be deemed essential include:

  • Going to work
  • Going to school
  • Maintaining the household
  • Attending court-ordered events, such as substance abuse assessments, treatments, or community services
  • Going to the doctor or physical therapy
  • Complying with religious obligations

Eligibility for Limited Driving Privileges

When someone is accused of a North Carolina DWI, their license is automatically suspended for 30 days. However, some drivers may be eligible for limited driving privileges on the 11th day of that period if they:

  • Had a valid license, or a license that was expired for less than one year, during the time of the arrest
  • Had not received any DWI charges during the previous seven years
  • Have not been charged with any DWI charges since the one resulting in suspension
  • Are able to provide proof of insurance with a DL-123 form
  • Undergo and submit a substance abuse assessment
  • Pay a $100 fee to the clerk of court

Unfortunately, not everyone who meets these criteria will be eligible for privileges. Certain circumstances may require the accused to meet additional eligibility requirements and/or wait longer before applying. For example:

  • BAC testing in North Carolina operates around implied consent law. This means that, if you are asked to take a BAC test and refuse, your license will automatically be suspended for one year. In this scenario, you’ll have to wait six months before applying for limited driving privileges.
  • If your BAC is 0.15% or more at the time of testing, you won’t be eligible for limited driving privileges until 45 days after a conviction. You’ll also be required to install an ignition interlock device before potentially being awarded limited driving privileges.
  • If you’re convicted of a level one or two DWI, you will not be able to receive limited driving privileges.

If you are charged with underage DWI, you will not be able to receive limited driving privileges. This is true even if you turn 21 before you are convicted.

Restrictions on Limited Driving Privileges

Being awarded limited driving privileges in North Carolina doesn’t mean you can drive wherever you want, whenever you want. Those with limited driving privileges are only able to drive between the standard hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. If you need to drive outside of those hours for work or school, you must submit a letter (from your employer or school) that outlines exactly when you need to be able to drive.

Additionally, you must keep your court order in the vehicle you are operating. If you are pulled over and you do not have this document, you can be arrested for driving on a revoked or suspended license. It is important to note that you must have the original, signed court order (complete with the raised seal) in order for your limited driving privilege to be considered valid in the eyes of law enforcement.

Punishments for Violating Limited Driving Privilege Restrictions

If you do not adhere to rules surrounding your limited driving privileges, you could:

  • Be charged with “driving while license revoked for impaired driving,” a Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Face up to 120 days in jail
  • Face an additional period of license revocation
  • Have your vehicle seized and/or sold (in some cases)
  • Be made to pay for towing, storage, and vehicle sale costs
  • Be required to forfeit your insurance proceeds

If you have been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a DWI in North Carolina, an experienced DWI lawyer may be able to help you obtain limited driving privileges. At Mulligan Attorneys,, we’ll be with you every step of the way, from that first phone call, to DWI hearings, to the final verdict.

If you need help getting limited driving privileges in North Carolina, contact us or give us a call at 910-763-1100 to schedule a free DWI consultation.