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Saturday, September 26, 2009

DWI- North Carolina's Pre Trial Limited Driving Privilege

You have been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated. The police officer took your drivers license. You now have a criminal case pending for DWI. Can you drive while your case is pending in the court system?  Under North Carolina law, a person arrested for DWI can apply for North Carolina's pretrial limited driving privilege.

A police officer will automatically take a person's license for a minimum of thirty days when they arrest and charge a person for DWI. For the first 10 days after arrest, the person is not allowed to drive. Generally speaking, after the 10th day, the person can file a motion with the court asking for a limited driving privilege for the remaining 20 days. Certain requirements must be met; at the time of the alleged offense, the person must have had a valid drivers license or have a license expired for less than 1 year, they cannot have any other DWI cases pending, and they must obtain a substance abuse assessment from a court approved program. A substance abuse assessment requires the person to go to a court approved provider and complete an interview with a counselor regarding their alcohol/drug use. If all criteria are met, the person must also present to the court a certified DMV Driving Record, a DL-123 proof of liability insurance, the substance abuse assessment, several copies of the court mandated limited driving privilege form, and, of course, a $100 civil filing fee. The judge will most likely grant the request and the person can drive for the remaining 20 days of the revocation.

After 30 days, the revocation period ends. At this point, the person can go to the courthouse and get their hard license back. In some counties, there will be an additional filing fee. In Mecklenburg County, the drivers license should be in the court file, called the shuck. Occasionally, however, the license is not there, somehow lost in the arrest and booking procedure. Or, the license will be stapled multiple times to different papers to a point of mutilation. In both cases, a person will have to go to the DMV and get a duplicate.

Once the 30 day revocation is over, assuming the license was valid before the offense, a person can legally drive once they have paid the revocation fee and obtained their license . Sometimes it is hard to understand how a person goes from being restricted from driving to being able to drive within 30 days after arrest; North Carolina statute states that if an officer has reasonable grounds to believe a person has violated an implied consent offense, a DWI, the officer is required to submit a revocation report to the court. However, once the revocation period ends, a person can legally drive because they have not been convicted of any offense. The person has only been accused and in our system a person is innocent until proven guilty. So while the case is pending, the person can drive.

If you are eventually convicted of the offense, your license will be revoked. More on this in the next post.

Warning- the punishment for driving on a revoked license when you have a DWI offense is very severe. A person does not want to face this charge. If a person is unsure if their license is suspended or revoked, I always recommend speaking to an attorney. Do not drive if your license is revoked.

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posted by Carilyn Ibsen at


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