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How to Get a Limited Driving Privilege After a DWI - Part 2

Jan 11, 2018

Has your license been suspended or revoked? If so, you're in the right place.

North Carolina Attorney Bill Powers has been representing clients in DWI license suspension and revocation matters since 1992. In this episode, Attorney Powers answers the questions that matter to you when your license has been suspended or revoked.

After about a 10-day period, if you get your alcohol assessment, if you have a DL123, if you get the paperwork and documentation together, you may be eligible to drive for, what we refer to as a pretrial limited driving privilege from day 11 to day 30, and then on day 30, you may be eligible to get your regular license back by paying some sort of restoration fee. Right now, it's a hundred bucks, but there are a lot of moving parts involved with that.

For example, if you have a willful refusal, the process of obtaining a privilege or even if that's possible is different as would be if you are driving on a class A commercial driver's license, they may order you to turn in your license for a class A CDL and issue a class C, but there are parts after parts and layers after layer on this type of issue. Yes, you can, but it's really complicated.

Robert Ingalls: Now, when you get a limited privilege, does that ... Right in the name, it says limited. Does that mean there are certain places that you can go? Can you just ...

Bill Powers: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Robert Ingalls: Okay. Tell me about that.

Bill Powers: Sure. Well, the first thing is there are limitations by the statutes with the people on Jones Street. That's where the North Carolina General Assembly is at the North Carolina Legislature where they put in the laws, the general statutes. These are the conditions, so that's the big overlay. The second aspect to be and important to recognize is that limited privileges, whether to pretrial or post-conviction limited privileges as issued by the judge as opposed to DMV, there's a difference, are always in the discretion of the court, and so they can limit in their discretion, and I have seen differences amongst jurisdictions of where people have been allowed to drive.

I've had judges say, "Well, I don't particularly like this person working at an establishment that sells alcohol, and so I'm not going to allow you to drive to certain places." The standard hours, which are defined generally across the state for a privilege are 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The standard days are Monday through Friday, and the standard purposes, normally, we refer to them as household maintenance, is getting back and forth to work, maybe going to grocery store, and taking care of some items of your household.

Now, we can regularly do get limited privileges for extended hours or extent circumstance. We normally need some level of additional documentation, and the courts look at the them and make sure that they're appropriate. HECA I guess have a year or two ago now that legislature putting into effect that you can ... There's a prevision that you can drive to church, which they added in there. Some judges make you come to court with us. There's a local jurisdiction union county in Monroe. It's not unusual for us to meet the client at the courthouse and present the documentation to the court. It's a little bit more formalized. That's what that particular judge and that jurisdiction wants to do, and there are other jurisdictions where the DA doesn't even want to sign off on the petition, which ... There's a special form. We advise them on the privilege, and we approach the court, and the court just signs off on the things filed.

There are restrictions. The biggest restriction on a limited driving privilege is probably the most obvious that you cannot have any booze in your system or on your breath while you're driving around on that, and so I tell people, when we prepare the things, I read it over to them beforehand, and then I read it over with them again. I'd say, "Remember, this is limited. There are restrictions, and if you don't follow those restrictions, there are consequences. One, they'll take the license, and two, you're probably subjecting yourself to a whole new set of problems and criminal charges, and maybe problems with DMV as well."

Robert Ingalls: It leads me into my next question. If you had that limited privilege, so let's say that you work on Friday nights doing whatever, if you are coming home from work, is there a particular route that they're going to hold you to?

Bill Powers: Wow, great question. Yes, they can do that. A lot of people don't realize that there could be route restrictions, and there's actually a space. It is something I've had judges say, "Bill, I want to know the route. I want to know not only what time they leave to go to work," and we normally ... They're given some grace period if they work at 7:00 a.m. and they get off at 7:00 p.m. They're given a certain amount of time to leave the home and a certain amount of time to get back home, and then I've also had judges say, "I want to know the specific route. I want you to ... You turn right on the Carmel Road, and you go up to Providence. Turn left."

Yes, they can do that, and there's a tremendous amount of discretion to forward it to the court. Frankly, I don't disagree with that, judges signing a piece of paperwork. Now, you've not been convicted of anything. I want to point that out on a pretrial privilege. On a post-conviction privilege, different story, but you've been accused of a pretty serious offense, and they are signing a piece of paper that says, "I'm going to allow you to drive. I'm going to trust you that you're not going to do this again," and it's on them at least politically and publicly if something bad happens and you're violating the privilege. You're going to see the news report. "Why are judges allowing people to drive around? They had a pending charge."

Robert Ingalls: Sure.

Bill Powers: They don't always understand that you're being charged and not being convicted on pretrial privileges, but I understand why judges look at them very carefully. They want to make sure that you're following through with what they think is appropriate given the nature and circumstances of your case.

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