Understanding Limited Driving Privileges after an Impaired Driving (DWI/DUI) Conviction in North Carolina

If you are found guilty of an impaired driving offense (DWI / DUI) in Wake County or elsewhere in North Carolina then you may be eligible for a limited driving privilege following your conviction.  North Carolina General Statute §20-179.3 addresses eligibility and other requirements for this privilege (click here to read the statute).  For additional information regarding Limited Driving Privileges, please read our other posting here.

You will not be eligible for a limited driving privilege if you have a prior DUI/DWI conviction within 7 years and are found guilty of a Level A1, 1 or 2 impaired driving offense.  A limited driving privilege is issued in the discretion of the Court authorizing a person with a revoked driver’s license to drive for essential purposes related to the person’s employment, maintenance of household, education, court-ordered substance abuse treatment, community service, emergency medical care and religious worship.  You are eligible for a limited privilege if you are convicted of impaired driving (DWI / DUI) under certain conditions including, (1) at the time of the offense the person possessed a valid driver’s license or a license that had been expired for less than one year, (2) within the past seven years the person had not been convicted of any other impaired driving offenses (DWI / DUI), (3) a Level 5, 4 or 3 impaired driving punishment is imposed, (4) no subsequent convictions for impaired driving since the offense date and (6) the person has obtained and filed with the court a substance abuse assessment.

If you are convicted of an impaired driving offense (Level 5, 4 or 3) and had an alcohol concentration of less than 0.15 then you should be immediately eligible for a standard Limited Driving Privilege provided that you provide the Court with certain documents: (1) DL-123, driving record, (2) proof of alcohol assessment, (3) employment letter for non-standard hours and (4) $100 LDP fee.  If you had an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or greater, then you are considered a “high-risk driver” and must wait 45 days after the final conviction, plus comply with the ignition interlock requirements, before you are eligible for an Interlock Limited Driving Privilege.

Differences between a Standard LDP and Interlock LDP:

  • Interlock LDP requires you wait 45 days from your final conviction before you are eligible.
  • Interlock LDP requires that you comply with ignition interlock requirements: (1) restriction to operate only a designated motor vehicle, (2) the designated motor vehicle be installed with an approved ignition interlock system which is set to prohibit driving with an alcohol concentration of greater than 0.00, and (3) the ignition interlock must be activated before driving.
  • Interlock LDP restricts driving only to and from your place of employment, school, place of worship and any court ordered substance abuse treatment facility.
  • Interlock LDP does not allow driving for “maintenance of household” or for emergency medical purposes.
  • Both prohibit driving after the consumption of any impairing substances.

Standard vs. Non-Standard Hours:

Standard driving hours during a limited driving privilege are 6:00 A.M. until 8:00 P.M. on Monday through Friday.  Driving during this time for work is authorized without specifying the times and routes in which the driver must operate.  If you need non-standard hours for essential work-related purposes, you must present documentation of that fact before the Judge may authorize this additional time of operation.  This can be done by providing the Court with a letter from your employer indicating your specific days and hours of employment, in addition to other work related documentation as the Court may require.

Interlock LDP Exceptions for High-Risk Drivers:

If you had an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or greater and considered a “high-risk” driver, it is possible to operate certain vehicles that are not equipped with an ignition interlock.  You are allowed to operate a motor vehicle owned by your employer for work related purposes only and your employer has filed with the Court written documentation authorizing you to drive the vehicle, for work related purposes, under the authority of a limited driving privilege.

If the State is unable to prove your alcohol concentration of 0.15 or greater at a sentencing hearing it may be possible to avoid an Ignition Interlock LDP and be immediately eligible for a Standard LDP following a conviction of a Level 5, 4 or 3 DWI / DUI.  However, it is important to note that after the 12 month suspension of your driving privileges DMV will require that you install an ignition interlock devise as a condition of restoration of your driver’s license.  This ignition interlock condition does not provide any for any exceptions of driving a vehicle (or “fleet vehicle”) unless that vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock.  In addition, avoiding the Ignition Interlock LDP may also prolong the amount of time your driving is limited from 12 months and 45 days to 24 months.

If you have been charged with an impaired driving offense (DWI / DUI) in Wake County, contact Criminal Defense Attorney Chris Dozier today to schedule a free consultation to discuss how a DWI/DUI impaired driving conviction can affect your driving privileges.