To Fight For Your Rights
How to Get a Limited Driving Privilege After a DWI - Part 4
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.
Where we see most of them and indeed in that context is post-conviction, and we tend to see them when someone has a certain reading, namely, a .15 or higher. Now, there are some ... The reason I preface that is that last year, we were at North Carolina talking about lowering that down to all DWIs and anyone that gets a .08 or higher was ... They were proposing that they would get an ignition interlock device, so that did not pass. We're got stuck in committee, but the idea is out there that anyone that gets a conviction of driving while impaired should have an ignition interlock device. There are reasons for doing that and reasons for not doing that, but presently, it's if you have a .15 or higher.
The second aspect of that though is you cannot drive for a period of time. You're not otherwise eligible to get what we call ignition interlock limited driving privilege, it's a mouthful, for 45 days, and that is intended as a punishment. I have client say, "Well, Bill, I need to drive. What do I do for those 45 days?" My response is, "You cannot drive." Even if a judge says, "Well, I'm going to give the person a privilege. I'm going to go ahead and fill it out," the DMV will kick it back. They'll disallow it, and people give me the strange look, and I say, "Well, they can do that. They can supersede or overwrite a judge if it's not authorized under a law.
We also see them with DMV restoration hearings where there have been a series of I'm going to say alcohol-related events. Maybe a series of DWIs over the years. I've seen them lately commonly ordered as a condition of restoration where someone has been found to be a willful refusal. They've gone that minimum sometimes a year, minimum six months revocation for willful refusing. That's a whole another ... We could do a whole another podcast on that, but I am seeing it more frequently with civil restorations as well, and that's again separate and apart from maybe the ankle bracelet that you would wear prior to court, which is also a fuel cell technology. The answer is yes, all of the above. Sorry.
Robert Ingalls: No, it's good. Now, after you've gotten license suspended, is there any type of waiting period based on how long you were suspended before you can apply? Things like that?
Bill Powers: Well, it depends on the basis of the suspension. If you have an ignition interlock limited driving privilege, so post-conviction ignition interlock privilege, yes, there's a 45-day hold before eligibility. If it's a condition of restoration as part of a civil DMV proceeding, you get a hearing, and they say, "We want you to do X, Y, and Z." There normally would not be a further period of suspension and revocation, but that's assuming ... or I don't want to miss the point that you probably ... The whole reason that you're having a hearing in the first place is that you were suspended and not supposed to be driving.
In fact, one of the things in hearings they do and we present to the DMV hearing officer is your record. Sometimes, we present witnesses that attest to the fact that you've not been driving at all. You've had no moving violations, let alone being convicted, which is a whole another issue, and secondly, not been drinking. We actually have ... We bring people who have valid licenses and have known you for a period of time, and they have sufficient contact with you that they can give testimony and saying, "I've not seen the person drive nor have I seen them drinking."
There are hold period restrictions. The DMV could very easily say, "Well, we want you to get an alcohol assessment first. We want you to comply to the treatment." Courts can do that as well. I have seen courts not issue a limited driving privilege until they've done their community service. Otherwise, comply of the judgment, so there are all kinds of options for the court and DMV. Strictly speaking, does there have to be ... Well, there has to be the 45-day one and ignition interlock device. There has to be normally without some administrative relief, the 10-day suspension unless you challenge the civil revocation, the 30-day suspension, and then after that, it's a lot of discretion.
Robert Ingalls: Okay.
Bill Powers: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Robert Ingalls: Sometimes, I hear people say that their license has been suspended permanently.
Bill Powers: Right.
Robert Ingalls: Does that mean permanently? I mean, can they not drive forever at that point?
Bill Powers: Well, there's permanent, and then there's permanent. This is one of those areas too that as a practitioner, it's mind-boggling because I try to explain what I consider to be just incredibly silly laws to not silly people. There is something called a permanent suspension or a lifelong suspension, and we see that with habitual driving while impaired. It's the death penalty, the death sentence for your driver's license.
We had a law in North Carolina that after a certain period of time, even on habitual permanent revocation, you could get some relief. It was a long time, and that law had a sunset provision. Basically, it was set for a set period of time, and then after that expiration of time, the general assembly said the next general assemblies, whenever that would have to be, could either re-institute the law or not, and they let that die.
Right now, presently, no, there's not that type of habitual driving while impaired penalty or felony DWI. There's not. There are permanent revocations or suspensions that don't really mean permanent. I don't know why they use that term, but they do, and when I first started practicing law in 1992, there actually wasn't offense called "driving while license permanently revoked," and it required ... They had a mandatory minimum 30 days active in jail if you were convicted, and that got changed ... I remember when that one went into effect, but that got changed.