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Can I Get A North Carolina Hardship License?


You depend on your driver’s license to keep your job and take care of your family. Unless you live in a city that has exceptional public transportation, being without your vehicle can cause you to be stranded at home. Even in cities with public transportation, it can be difficult, challenging, and frustrating to use public transportation for all of your transportation needs. If you are struggling with find transportation after a NC DWI conviction, you may be eligible to receive a hardship license.

Asking neighbors for rides or taking your child to the doctor on a bus is embarrassing and frustrating. If your driver’s license has been suspended because of a DWI arrest or a DWI conviction, we can help you apply for a hardship license, also referred to as a “limited driving privilege”. The DWI attorneys of The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm are dedicated to helping drivers keep their driver’s license and protect their driving record. We aggressively fight all North Carolina driving while impaired charges to keep you on behind the wheel and on the road.

What is a North Carolina Hardship License?

A limited driving privilege (“LDP”) goes by a lot of different names–“hardship license”, “Cinderella license”, and “paper license” are a few of the common ones–but they all refer to the same thing. This is a court order, signed by a judge, that authorizes somebody to drive even though their driving privilege is suspended for a DWI. This means that the LDP comes from the court, not from the DMV. However, the DMV still sets rules for when a limited privilege can be issued and for how long it lasts.

A person’s eligibility for a limited driving privilege and the details of when are where it can be used depending on the details of the license suspension and the status of the case. Not everybody is eligible to get a hardship license, and the judge is not required to issue one even if somebody is eligible. This means that a good DWI attorney is important if you are trying to restore your ability to legally drive.

In virtually every case where a person is eligible for a hardship license, they must first complete certain requirements. They must:

  • Complete a substance abuse assessment (typically costing $100 plus a fee to obtain their driving history)
  • Pay a $100 Civil Revocation fee
  • Pay a $100 court cost for the limited privilege itself
  • Provide proof of current car insurance via a form DL-123 that is obtained from the insurance company
  • Provided documentation of employment schedule if they are asking to drive for work or school outside the standard hours of 6am-8pm on Monday through Friday

When Can I get a Hardship License?

  • My license was suspended because I was Arrested for DWI and blew .08 or higher: when a person is charged with a DWI and blows over the legal limit the magistrate will issue a Civil Revocation of their privilege to drive. This is an order than the defendant not drive for 30 days from the date of their arrest. While you can get your full driving privilege restored at the end of the 30 day period, the State may also issue a limited driving privilege after the first 10 days of the civil revocation to last until the 30 days is up. After the 30 days the limited driving privilege is no longer valid because you are eligible to get your regular license back.

  • My license was suspended because I was arrested for DWI and refused to take the breath test: when a person refuses the breath test the magistrate will still impose a 30 day Civil Revocation as described above. However the DMV will also impose a one-year suspension of your driving privilege as a consequence of refusing to take the breath test. You have the right to contest this one year suspension by requesting a hearing with the DMV. If you are suspended for the refusal then you cannot get a limited driving privilege until at least six months from the date of the refusal, and your case must have been finalized in court.
  • I was charged with DWI but they took a blood sample to test for alcohol: Until your blood test is completed your license will not be suspended. If the blood test shows that your BAC was .08 or higher then your license will be suspended at that time just as if you had taken the breath test. The only difference is that the 30-day suspension starts when the test result is completed rather than at the time of your arrest, and you are eligible for a limited driving privilege 10 days after you have turned your license into the courthouse.
  • I was convicted of DWI and given a level 3, 4 or 5 sentence: The DMV will suspend your license for one year from the date of the conviction for a first offense DWI. You will be eligible for a limited driving privilege that covers the full year of the suspension, unless….
  • I was convicted of DWI, given a level 3, 4 or 5 sentence and had a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher: You will be suspended for one year from the date of conviction, but you will also be required to have an ignition interlock system installed in your car. Any limited driving privilege will require that you drive with this device, and there will be much stricter limits on when and where you can drive. You also must wait at least 45 days from the date of conviction before you can have the hardship license issued.
  • I was convicted of DWI and was under age 21 at the time of the offense: You cannot get a limited driving privilege if you were underage when you were charged, even if you turned 21 before you were convicted.

Help Getting a Hardship License

As you can see, there are a lot of different and sometimes conflicting rules that apply to license suspensions. To be honest, there are many other circumstances that may apply to your case besides the ones listed above that can make you more or less eligible for a limited driving privilege. There are also situations where your license can be suspended for reasons other than a DWI, and you may be eligible for a paper license under different rules than we have discussed here.

The bottom line is that if you have been charged with a DWI then you have important legal rights that need to be protected. Particularly with license suspensions, you may be eligible to reduce or even eliminate a suspension if you take the proper actions, but if you fail to act quickly you may waive those rights. If you have a license suspension or a pending DWI it is so very important that you meet with an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible. The DWI lawyers of The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm can help you apply for your hardship license while we investigate your DWI arrest and begin building a strong defense to the charges.

Contact an Experienced Jacksonville DWI Attorney

“Attorneys Who Aggressively Protect Your Rights”

The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm is a full-service Jacksonville DWI law firm committed to providing legal representation to individuals seeking an alternative to large-firm representation. We focus on finding a cost-effective solution to your DWI problem.

When you have legal problems, you need an experienced DWI attorney in your corner. An attorney who knows the law and who has the experience to get results. We represent clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County, and the surrounding communities. Call our office at (910) 405-8459 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.