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Dysart Willis

How soon can you drive again after a DWI in North Carolina?

The last thing you need as a college student with the holidays approaching is to lose your driver's license due to a DWI. You may worry that not only will this complicate your plans to go back home but also your ability to get to work and school.

Is it possible to get your license back, and if so, how long will it take? The answer depends on your circumstances, but knowing the basics of North Carolina law can give you a general idea.

The difference between revocation and suspension

First, you must understand the difference between a license revocation and suspension. The former happens when you lose your license indefinitely and usually occurs to people who have multiple DWIs under their belt. There are still ways to get a license back, but it is complicated and lengthy.

A suspension is a temporary loss of license for less severe offenses, such as a first-time DWI. With the help of an attorney, you may be able to receive limited driving privileges so you can at least get to work, school and any mandatory alcohol or driving classes.

How long you will lose your license

If this is your first DWI conviction, you will lose your license for a year with no option of a hearing to contend the suspension. This is why it is imperative you have a qualified lawyer defend you so do not receive a conviction. If you lost your license due to refusing to take a chemical test to detect intoxication, you also lose your license for a year. However, the court allows you a pre-hearing in which you can fight to keep your license.

The more offenses or additional charges you have, the longer the suspension will be.

Requirements for regaining your license

How soon you can regain your license depends on the severity of your crime. Regardless, you will have to meet certain requirements, in addition to time, before receiving a reinstatement. These may include installing an ignition interlock device, going through a substance abuse assessment, paying fees and attending a driver improvement clinic.