Limited Driving Privileges

When a person is arrested for Driving While Impaired (or some call it Driving Under the Influence), their license is immediately revoked for a period of 30 days if they refuse a chemical test or have a result over .08. After that, if the person is convicted of DWI they will lose their license for a period of one year. If they refuse the breath test they then also face a separate administrative revocation for one year. Obviously, the loss of a driver’s license is a tremendous inconvenience that can make day to day obligations very difficult to meet. Many people lose their jobs if they cannot drive. However, in many cases, the law allows a person who has lost their license to get a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) which will allow them to drive under certain conditions, usually to places like work or school.

What will an LDP allow me to do?

There are multiple different types of Limited Driving Privileges; they can range from very strict “High Risk Driver’s” which only allow to and from work, and then only with an Interlock installed, all the way down to a “speeding limited” driving privilege with few restrictions. The most important function of an LDP is to allow you to continue working or attending school despite the sudden loss of your driver’s license. The standard LDP will allow you to drive during “working hours” which North Carolina defines as: 6a.m. to 8p.m. Monday-Friday. Those hours can be altered at the court’s discretion to allow for people with irregular hours (night classes or people who work weekends), and that usually requires some documentation from your school or place of employment. Some LDP’s also allow a driver to drive for “maintenance of household duties” during working hours.
“Maintenance of household duties” is a term which is not well defined, but involves things like picking kids up from school, and going to the grocery and doctor’s appointments.

What do I need to do to get an LDP?

The LDP is available for both the initial 30-day suspension (after ten days) and the potential yearlong suspension that comes with a DWI conviction. And after 6 months in the case of a refusal. However, the conditions to qualify can be different if your Blood Alcohol Content was above a .15 at the time of arrest.

Pre-Trial LDP:

If your breath test at the time of arrest indicated a Blood Alcohol Concentration of above .08 (or if your refused the test), your license will be suspended for 30 days even before you have gone to trial. After the 10th day, most people become eligible for a limited driving privilege as long as they meet certain criteria:

  •  At the time of arrest you had a valid driver’s license or one that had been expired for less than a year.
  •  You have had no DWI convictions within the last seven years, and have not been charged with another one since your license was revoked.
  •  Proof that you have obtained a substance abuse assessment and are complying with any treatment recommended.
  •  Pay a $100 LDP fee to the clerk of court

Assuming you meet all of these criteria you will be able to get a limited privilege for the remainder of your initial suspension. After 30 days you must go to the clerk of court in the court where you were charged and pay a $100.00 Civil Revocation Fee (a CVR fee).

Post-Trial LDP:

If you are found not guilty of DWI, your license will be restored (after 30 days and you pay the CVR fee) and you will be free to drive normally. However, if you are convicted, you will lose your Driver’s license for a year. As long as you have not had a prior DWI in the last 7 years, you can reapply for a limited driving privilege, under similar criteria as the pretrial LDP, if you would like to drive at all during your mandatory one-year suspension.
If your BAC was above .15 when arrested the process is slightly more involved. In addition to the normal requirements you must provide evidence that you have installed an “interlock device” (rented by Smart Start or Monitech) in your car, which will prevent you from driving your car without first giving an alcohol free breath sample. Your license will also be suspended for 45 days after your conviction before you are allowed to secure an LDP, and the driving will be further restricted with no “maintenance of household” driving allowed.

I refused an alcohol test when arrested, can I get an LDP?

Yes. Refusing a breath test when arrested for DWI triggers a one-year license suspension from the DMV. But in spite of what others tell you, it is not automatic. You have a right to an administrative hearing at the DMV to appeal the refusal revocation. If you lose the administrative hearing (or fail to request one within ten days of notification of the suspension) then your license will be suspended because of a refusal. You are not eligible for an LDP for the first six months. After that six months of refusal suspension your attorney can apply for a limited driving privilege if you otherwise qualify. To get this limited privilege you must also meet one additional prerequisite: you must have completed a recommended treatment program for alcohol.