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Obtaining a Limited Driving Privilege in North Carolina

You may be eligible to obtain a limited driving privilege for essential purposes such as employment, maintenance of your household, education, court-ordered treatment or assessment, community service ordered as a condition of probation, emergency medical care and religious worship.

North Carolina law is specific about when and how the privileges are granted. Some limited driving privileges are handled in criminal court and others in civil court. It is smart to hire an attorney to help you know the best way to handle you situation.

Below you will find the basic process for obtaining a privilege before or after a conviction for Driving While Impaired in North Carolina, which is a very common reason to seek one.

There are 5 basic categories of limited driving privileges and knowing which one applies to you is helpful.

1. Driving While Impaired

A charge in North Carolina for standard or indefinite suspension before the trial

A conviction in North Carolina (also used for underage alcohol violations)

A conviction in another state or in federal jurisdiction

After a willful refusal of breath test

When an interlock is required

2. A North Carolina conviction for Speeding, Reckless Driving, Aggressive Driving, Larceny Of Motor Fuel, Felony Speeding To Elude, Unsafe Movement, or Failure to Move over or Passing Stopped School Bus

3. A conviction for Reckless Driving or Aggressive Driving conviction in another state or in federal jurisdiction

4. A conviction for Driving While License Revoked or a conviction for a moving violation while your license is revoked

5. A felony conviction in North Carolina for which your license is suspended

Getting a Driving Privilege before you are convicted

Your license is automatically revoked for 30 days if your BAC (blood-alcohol content) registered 0.08 or greater on the breath test machine and you were charged with However, you can probably get a limited privilege after 10 days after paying $100 to the clerk of court, if you are not otherwise disqualified.

You have to have had a valid license at the time of the traffic stop and not have been convicted for DWI in the last 7 years. Also, you cannot have any other pending DWI charges other than the one you are seeking the privilege for.

You will need to submit a DL-123 form which shows you are covered by auto insurance and submit a completion certificate from an approved substance abuse assessment.

However, the pre-trial privilege just described only helps until the 30th day after you were arrested. At this time, you will have to pay the $50 restoration fee to have your standard driver's license reinstated. You regular license will work fine unless you are later convicted, in which case you can seek another privilege license

If for some reason you refused to blow into the test machine at the police station or sheriff's office, you may have to wait 6 months before obtaining a limited privilege.

Getting a Driving Privilege after you are convicted

After a conviction for DWI, your driver's license must not be suspended for any other reason and you must satisfy all of the requirements for the pretrial privilege in order to apply for another privilege. With some foresight you can prepare the documents and information listed here to take with you to the sentencing hearing for the DWI and allow the judge to sign the privilege at the same time.

If the machine registered 0.15 or greater for your BAC, an interlock device is required and your license will be revoked for an additional 45 days. You will have to wait those 45 days before applying for a privilege.

Level I or Level II convictions for Driving While Impaired are much more serious and will bar you from getting a driving privilege for one full year from the date of conviction.

7 steps

  1. Submit a DL-123 form from your insurance company. Your agent can easily email or fax this information to you or your attorney. Do not request it too early because it will expire in 30 days.
  2. Complete an alcohol assessment, sometimes called a DWI class. There will be a fee to pay to the course provider.
  3. Get an interlock device if needed.
  4. You or your attorney will need to prepare the appropriate form from the NC Judicial Branch website to file in the court where you were charged.
  5. If you need to work at times other than standard business hours (Monday through Friday 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM), you will need to get a letter from your employer or provide other documents to show why you need to drive for work outside of those hours.
  6. File the document with the clerk of court and pay the $100 fee.
  7. Be careful to read and understand everything that is on the limited driving privilege. If you have questions, consult your attorney. 

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