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Do You Lose Your License for DUI/ DWI In North Carolina?

If you’re facing charges for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI), you may be wondering, “Do I lose my license for DUI/ DWI in North Carolina?” The answer is yes – depending on the severity of your offense and other factors, you could lose your driver’s license for a year or more.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the different types of impaired driving convictions that can lead to losing your license. We’ll also explore ways you can often get limited driving privileges or fight to reduce or dismiss your charges.

So if you’ve been arrested for DUI/ DWI in North Carolina, don’t despair – there are still steps that you can take to protect your driving privileges!

DWI/ DUI Arrest

North Carolina state traffic laws provide a blood alcohol content BAC limit of .08 on a breathalyzer test. However, for school buses and commercial drivers, the limit is .04 BAC. And for underage drivers, no alcohol whatsoever is allowed. The limit for under 21 drivers is .00 BAC.

Even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the maximum legal limit, you can still face charges for DUI/ DWI. The prosecutor’s office may bring a case against you with proof that impairment from a substance impeded your capability to drive safely – which could lead to an arrest and potential conviction.

A DWI/ DUI arrest can result in having your license suspended as an administrative suspension with your charges. It can also happen later if your DWI/ DUI resulted in a conviction. That’s why it’s crucial to bring on an experienced DWI/ DUI attorney to ensure a negotiation with the DA’s office before any criminal trial.

DWI/ DUI Conviction

If a police officer pulls you over for suspicion of impaired driving, you can face DWI/ DUI charges. A DWI/ DUI arrest can bring jail time, even for a first offense depending on the circumstances.

However, an arresting officer may act in ways that are not legal during DUI arrests. For example, they could set up a sobriety checkpoint immediately outside a bar and stop everyone who leaves it.

With a skilled DUI defense lawyer, you will know if the police officers had a legal basis to pull you over. The important thing is to act quickly and call a defense attorney immediately.

By law, there is no requirement for you to take any field sobriety tests (tests at the roadside). However, if an officer arrests you and takes you to the station, refusing chemical tests or breath tests can result in the immediate suspension of your license for an entire year.

DWI/ DUI cases can also bring other DWI/ DUI penalties

Driver’s License Suspension

An impaired driving license revocation often involves mandatory penalties, including a specific amount of time you may lose your license.

These are the statutes in North Carolina that allow for removal of your legal ability to drive motor vehicles:

• G.S. 20-13.2: consuming alcohol/drugs or willful refusal by driver under 21

• G.S. 20-16(a)(8b): military driving while impaired

• G.S. 20-16.2: refused chemical test

• G.S. 20-16.5: pretrial civil license revocation

• G.S. 20-17(a)(2): impaired driving or commercial impaired driving

• G.S. 20-138.5: habitual impaired driving

• G.S. 20-17(a)(12): transporting open container

• G.S. 20-16(a)(7): impaired driving out of state resulting in N.C. revocation

• G.S. 20-17(a)(1): DWI/ DUI manslaughter conviction or second-degree murder involving impaired driving

• G.S. 20-17(a)(3): felony involving use of motor vehicle, involving impaired driving

• G.S. 20-17(a)(9): felony or misdemeanor death or serious injury by vehicle involving impaired driving

• G.S. 20-17(a)(11): assault with motor vehicle involving impaired driving

• G.S. 20-28.2(a)(3): The laws of another state and the offense for which the person’s license is revoked prohibits substantially similar conduct which, if committed in this State would result in a revocation listed under any of the above statutes. (1)

The DMV can revoke your driver’s license in North Carolina for many reasons, including administrative license suspension without a judge weighing in.

A judge may also suspend your license without a preliminary hearing if you commit specific offenses. Suppose your license will be suspended due to drunk driving or other substance-impaired driving. In that case, you may avoid a lengthy automatic suspension with the help of an experienced DUI lawyer.


In a license suspension, the DMV may temporarily withdraw your driving privilege for a specific period. You may apply for reinstatement once you fulfill the terms of the suspension.

If the DMV revokes your driving privileges, they terminate your license. Unlike a license suspension, with a revocation, you must attend a DMV hearing and meet the terms and conditions set forth at that time to get reinstatement of your license.


If you face a DWI/ DUI charge for a blood alcohol content above the legal limit, administrative suspensions or revocations may be around the corner.

With a first DUI offense, you will often face an immediate 30-day civil revocation. If you pay your $100 fine after 30 days, the DMV will restore your privileges.

However, at 10 days, your attorney can petition the court for a limited driving privilege or “hardship license.”

A limited driving privilege usually allows you to drive during the daytime on weekdays for purposes such as work, school, and household maintenance.

The DMV suspends a driver’s license for at least a year if you’re convicted of driving while impaired (DWI/ DUI). The DMV may permanently revoke your driving privileges depending on your charges and conviction.


The NC DMV sends you notification when they suspend your license. When you receive notice, you can request an administrative hearing. A DWI/ DUI case hearing is your chance to plead for reinstatement of your license.

When you request a hearing, you can keep your driver’s license and driving privileges until the hearing. You can submit the DMV Driver License Hearing Request Form to request a hearing.

Often, a court may allow you to drive with a “hardship” license or ignition interlock device. The court may allow hardship licenses in some instances. A hardship license is a court order signed by a judge that enables someone with a suspended license to drive, even though they have a DWI.

The DMV sets rules for who can apply for a hardship license and how long it lasts. Even if you’re eligible for a hardship license, a judge is not obligated to grant you one.


NCDMV must receive a certificate of completion for a DWI substance use assessment and treatment (DUI School) approved by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services for a driver subject to G.S. 20-17.6 before ending your license suspension period.

Once your DMV suspension ends, you can apply for a license at an NCDMV driver license office to reinstate your driving privileges. You may need to bring your proof of insurance at the time of reinstatement.

DUI/ DWI offenses in North Carolina can have several consequences for drivers, including license suspensions or revocation. How long you can lose your license depends on how many offenses you have and how serious the violation is.

To get your license reinstated, you will usually need to attend a DMV hearing and meet certain conditions set forth by the court. You may also be eligible for a hardship license or ignition interlock device. After fulfilling the terms of your suspension, you can apply for reinstatement at an NCDMV driver’s license office.

If You Have Prior DUI Convictions

With a prior DUI conviction, you can end up with more severe consequences.

Depending on the number of your prior convictions, a temporary driver’s license may be out of reach for you. Subsequent DUI offenses can bring up to 3 years in jail and a requirement to wear a continuous alcohol monitoring device.

Our Experienced DWI/ DUI Attorneys Can Help

Whether you face charges for DWI/ DUI or have already been convicted of DUI/ DWI, our legal system can feel confusing and exhausting. With a DWI/ DUI lawyer from Scharff Law, your options open up.

We work with you to find any law enforcement rights violations and offer a free consultation to ensure you find the help you need. Whether you’re hoping for a temporary license or a DWI/ DUI probation, we have answers and can help you find solutions to the charges you face!

Get in touch today to start finding your way forward!