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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Getting Your License Back After DWI Conviction

My previous post addressed how to get a valid license when you have a DUI/DWI case pending. Now, assume you have pled guilty or were convicted of the DWI. A common question I receive is how do you go about getting your license back after a DWI conviction.

A limited driving privilege is available to most after conviction. Usually, a person's license will be suspended for 1 year after the date of conviction. If a person meets certain eligibility requirements, a limited privilege can be obtained from the courts. First, the driver must hold a valid license or had a license that was expired for less than one year at the time the DWI occurred. Second, the driver must not have any previous DWI convictions in the last seven years and not have any other DWI cases pending in the court system. Third, the driver must of received a level three, four, or five punishment from the judge. Finally, the driver must have valid insurance and filed a substance abuse assessment with the court.

Generally speaking, if granted, the driver will be allowed to drive to and from his/her place of employment, school, court ordered drug treatment programs, court ordered community service, emergency medical care and tasks related to the maintenance of his/her household.

A driver can apply for this privilege at the time of sentencing. However, if the driver was a .15 or above, the license will not be effective until 45 days after sentencing and the driver will only be allowed to drive to and from work, school, court ordered substance abuse programs, and the interlock service facility. North Carolina law will also require an ignition interlock device on the vehicle the driver operates.

The law that addresses this is GS 20-179.3. If you print this statute from your computer, it will be approximately 6 pages of single space information. It is full of exceptions, clauses, and confusing legal terminology.  Again, the punishment for driving on a suspended or revoked license is very severe. Every case is unique and different exceptions might apply making a person ineligible for the privilege. Court documents must be correctly filled out. Talk to an attorney before you get in a car and drive anywhere. Talk to an attorney before you go to the courthouse and try to do this yourself.

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posted by Carilyn Ibsen at


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