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Can I Get a Hardship License in North Carolina?

North Carolina has many unique rules, especially when it comes to traffic laws and citations. When you have a suspended license, it can seriously impact your ability to keep your job, make it to mandatory appointments, and otherwise make ends meet. Unless you live in an urban area with good public transportation, being without a vehicle can cost you your livelihood and make it impossible to move on from your mistakes. If having a suspended license causes an undue hardship for you or your family, you may be able to apply for a hardship license under North Carolina law so consider speaking with an experienced Raleigh DWI lawyer to learn more.

What Is a Hardship License?

A North Carolina hardship license provides limited driving privileges (LDP). It goes by many other names, such as a “paper license” or “Cinderella license,” but they’re all the same thing. A hardship license is a court order, signed by a judge, that allows 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 under no obligation to grant you one. Eligibility requirements for a hardship license include:

  • Completion of a substance abuse assessment
  • Payment of a $100 Civil Revocation Fee
  • Proof of car insurance via form DL-123
  • Documentation of employment or school schedule
  • Payment of $100 court costs for the license

Who Can Get a Hardship License in North Carolina?

Not everyone can receive a Cinderella or hardship license. The following criteria may help determine if you can receive one:

  • You received a license suspension after an arrest for a DWI and breathalyzer revealing a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. The standard procedure for DWI is a Civil Revocation of your license, which takes your driving privileges away for 30 days. However, you may be able to receive limited driving privileges after 10 days with a hardship license.
  • Your received a license suspension for a DWI because you refused a breathalyzer at the scene. Here, the same Civil Revocation rule applies, but the DMV also imposes an additional 1-year license suspension for refusing the breathalyzer. You may be eligible for limited driving privileges 6 months into the suspension.
  • You received a license suspension for a DWI following a blood test. If the blood test revealed a BAC in excess of .08, your license suspension will take effect 30 days from the date of the blood test result. You may apply for limited driving privileges 10 days from this date.
  • You had a level 3,4, or 5 level conviction for a DWI. This automatically suspends your license for 1 year. You may receive limited driving privileges for the full year unless your BAC exceeded .15. In this case, you may have an ignition interlock system installed on your car, and you will be required to drive with this device. You must also wait at least 45 days to apply for a hardship license.

If you were under the age of 21 at the time of your DWI, you will not qualify for limited driving privileges, even if you turned 21 by the time of your conviction.

North Carolina hardship licenses provide limited privileges to those who lose their license following a DWI. Not all people will be eligible for this license, which allows you to drive to and from school or work. Even if you do qualify, a judge may choose to not grant you one, which highlights a need for an attorney to represent you throughout the process. A skilled Raleigh criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities following a DWI conviction.