Under North Carolina law, if you have be arrested for driving while impaired (DWI) and you register a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or greater, your driver’s license automatically will be revoked for 30 days. That alone can be a crushing blow to your personal finances. It immediately can put your job in jeopardy. At a minimum, after your DWI arrest in North Carolina, you will have to find and pay for some form of alternative transportation to work or school, and to get on with your day-to-day travel needs.

Don’t despair. Here in North Carolina, a special program called Limited Driving Privileges (LDPs) exists for people whose conventional driving rights have been revoked. LDPs do not grant you the full broad rights to operate a motor vehicle, but you may drive only for specific essential purposes, such as transportation to and from work or school.

Getting an LDP is not automatic—your application can be denied. Even if you are granted one of these precious exceptions, you may find that your driving rights are restricted to specific hours of the day or even specific routes.

Limited Driving Privileges Before Your Trial

If your license was automatically revoked after you were charged with DWI in North Carolina, you are eligible to apply for Limited Driving Privileges after ten days. In order to be considered for an LDP, you must meet all the following requirements:

  • You must have held a valid driver’s license at the time of your arrest.
  • You must not have been convicted of a DWI offense within the last seven years.
  • You must not have been arrested for another DWI in the few days since your license was revoked (No, really: this rule actually disqualifies some people).
  • You must have proof that you were evaluated for substance abuse.
  • You must have proof that you have insurance coverage.
  • You must pay a $100 fee.

If you are accepted, you will be issued a Limited Driving Privileges certification, which you must carry with you whenever you are behind the wheel.

The LDP is valid only until 30 days after you were charged with driving while impaired—a maximum time of less than three weeks. The LDP expires at the same time the revocation of your regular license ends. At that point, you are eligible to have your driver’s license reinstated, after paying a $50 fee. You get to keep your license until your trial.

If You Refused the Breath Test

Under the North Carolina implied consent law, it is assumed that drivers agree to be tested for alcohol or drugs in their blood in exchange for the privilege of driving on state streets, roads, and highways. Nevertheless, you can refuse a blood, breath, or urine test when detained by police. However, it’s usually a bad idea.

Some people believe that without a blood test, they can’t be convicted of DWI in North Carolina. They are wrong. The evidence of their behavior and the testimony of the arresting officer can be enough for a conviction.

If you have refused testing of any sort, your driver’s license will be revoked for a full year. Again, this is an automatic revocation that happens regardless of the DWI charges against you. You must wait a full six months before you are eligible to apply for Limited Driving Privileges, and there is no guarantee your application for LDP will be approved.

Limited Driving Privileges after a North Carolina DWI Conviction

If your criminal trial for driving while impaired goes against you, your license will be revoked. Those found guilty of the most serious grades of the offense—known as Level I or Level II—cannot apply for a Limited Driving Privilege for six months. In addition, if your blood alcohol concentration was .15 or higher, then you will face a 45-day period without any possibility of driving. People guilty of lesser misdemeanors can apply earlier, but all post-conviction LDPs may be granted or denied as the Department of Motor Vehicles may decide.

Getting Help Restoring Your Ability to Drive

The rules governing Limited Driving Privileges can be quite confusing to someone not used to dealing with this area of the law. The Wilmington criminal defense lawyers at Speaks Law Firm are experienced in helping clients recover their driving rights. You can reach us locally by calling 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233 anywhere in the state. Reach out to us today to learn how we can help you with your drunk driving charges or any other misdemeanor or felony accusation.


R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.
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