To Fight For Your Rights
How to Get a Limited Driving Privilege After a DWI - Part 3
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.
Robert Ingalls: All right, so let's say I'm supposed to be on Providence Road, and I get caught on 485 near Ballentine. What's going to happen to me at that point?
Bill Powers: Well, there's the practical matter as what's going to happen, and there is some discretion I think in law enforcement to decide whether or not to issue a warning or indeed arrest you. I think in a worst case scenario, you could be charged with driving while license revoked or suspended, or failing to comply with the restrictions on your license. I think some reasonable minds may differ whether that is the same as not wearing your glasses when you're supposed to be driving versus wholeheartedly not compliant with the spirit of the limited privilege.
I don't think this is one area that I would encourage people to challenge their luck on. I would say err on the side of being conservative and making sure that you stay on the path and direction that the court orders. Having said that, most privileges, when you see them, again, as a practical matter, have your home address, have your workplace or workplaces, and maybe where you go get treatment, your assessment agency and recommended treatment, and there's a certain latitude allowed to get there like what happens if you're on ... We use Providence Road. What if there's a wreck on Providence Road? Are you supposed to stay there on Providence Road until they clear the wreck? It's probably not safe. If you're being directed, if the officer is telling you, "Go over here for the detour," and you say, "No, I'm violating my privilege," there's a practical aspect of it. It's easy to focus on these ultra-narrow exceptions, but I think as a big picture, it's better to be a little bit more conservative.
Robert Ingalls: It sounds like what you're saying is you could land yourself in jail if you're not careful.
Bill Powers: Oh, absolutely.
Robert Ingalls: Got you. All right, so I want to back up to something you said a moment ago about the difference between post-conviction and pre-conviction.
Bill Powers: Right.
Robert Ingalls: Tell me a little bit about that. Like what are the differences there?
Bill Powers: Well, I tell clients this in a pretty regular basis that I'm explaining the law, not necessarily defending the law. There are some laws I just fundamentally disagree with, and when you have been charged with driving while impaired, it's a charge. You're not being convicted, and contrary to my personal opinion ... Now, this is not my legal opinion. This is my personal opinion. I think taking someone's driver's license for an extended period of time prior to being convicted is a punishment of sorts.
Robert Ingalls: I would agree with you on a personal level as well.
Bill Powers: Right. Now, the general assembly, not so much, and the courts have said, "Well, we're closed, but we haven't crossed that line yet." Fundamentally, when you're convicted, things are different. You either have admitted responsibility through a plea or you've been found guilty either by the court or a trial, and a judgment has been entered against you, and then you're subjected to the court's will. I think people fail to also recognize that there is a second agency involved, and that has to do with DMV.
Now, you asked the question, "What's difference?" Well, a pretrial limited privilege is not said to be a punishment. It is meant to get your attention. It's meant to make you maybe do a timeout. I got to learn to stop doing these hand motions when we're on this podcast, but imagine like the referee does the best for every timeout. Stop. Get an alcohol assessment. Take a look at what's going on in your life, and during the next 30 days, we're going to limit how much you can drive, the when's, where's, and why's.
That's different than a post-conviction limited driving privilege, which has specific ... The specific purpose is there is a punishment aspect of it. It's not just rehabilitation or helping you maybe take a look at yourself in the mirror, but there is a punishment aspect. There is a consequence to having been convicted driving while impaired, and so they're very similar. In fact, the forms are almost identical. One says pretrial on it. One says limited driving privilege, but they ... and that's why also why I say it's a punishment at someplace because it's the same form. Largely the same form, but there are hyper-technical legal differences. The key or takeaway from this is that they're both serious. They both have negative consequences if you don't comply, and they really long-term can affect your life and your livelihood to be able to get around and take care of the things if you don't follow the rules.
Robert Ingalls: Now, sometimes, I'll see people with little blowing machines in their car that they have to blow into to start the car and things like that. Is that part of post-conviction like after they've convicted, or do they ever get that when it's pretrial?
Bill Powers: Presently, and the reason I say this is these laws are developing over time and the legislature is not ... I don't think is in session right now, but it's probably about to be, and I hear rumblings of possible changes. Generally speaking, presently, it is limited to post-conviction limited privilege, but put an asterisk right there because there are times with DMV that in order to obtain a restoration of a license through DMV and not necessarily to court, they're related, but separate, it could be a condition of restoration.
That device, a lot of people call it the blow and go, is actually called an ignition interlock device. It's very, very similar technology that we use on the handheld device on the side of the road referred to now as an alco-sensor. It's very similar to the device we used downtown to test your breath called the ECIR2. The EC, for the record, stands for Electrochemical, my apologies, as in a fuel cell, so all these use fuel cell devices.